Kenya needs an approximately 450 metric tonnes of fish per year to satisfy its local demand.
However, Fish farmers in the country produce 164 metric tons per year according to Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna.
The current global fish per capita stands at 20.5 kilograms with Kenya staggering at below 4 kilos per person in terms of fish consumption.
With the growing need of fish consumption, as a national food, owing to its nutritional value like the Omega 3 suitable for brain and heart development, the government has invested Sh 41 billion to support fish farmers to produce enough fish through the Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP).
Oguna urged farmers from 14 Counties where the programme is taking place to produce enough fish to supply to the four fish processing plants including the Kakamega, which has inked a deal to supply to the European Union and the Middle East.
Currently, Kakamega Fish factory is operating at a low production level of 5 tons per day with the capacity to produce more than 15 tons per day with availability of raw materials.
Oguna was speaking after inspecting the fish processing plant in the county where he said the government is working on mechanisms to reduce post-harvest losses of fish from 25 per cent to 15 per cent with targets of reducing it completely while also subsidizing the cost of fish feeds and fingerlings.
“We need to encourage many Kenyans to come and engage and participate in fish farming so that we can be able to enhance our production and bridge the gap between demand and supply of fish,” he pointed out.
The Government is also undertaking skill transfer in the growing of fish particularly in schools by investing Sh31 billion in various schools to be used as a training centre for learners to appreciate the importance of fish farming.
One of the schools where the training Centre has been established is Moi Girls Vokoli in Vihiga County.
The Government spokesperson noted that the World Bank partnered with the National government to invest Sh10 billion for training and purchase of fishing materials and equipment for fish farmers from coastal counties of Kilifi, Mombasa, Lamu, Kwale and Tana to enhance catching of fish in the Indian Ocean.
Kakamega County Commissioner John Ondengo said the project which is being spearheaded by the Development of Aquaculture Support (DAS) group in collaboration with the County government of Kakamega will improve the livelihoods of residents and their standards of living.
He said fish is an alternative farming enterprise that farmers from western Kenya can venture into instead of overreliance on sugarcane farming.
By George Kaiga and Moses Wekesa