The government has committed Sh 15 billion to be spent on Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP), the Principal Secretary for Fisheries Micheni Ntiba has said.
The programme which will run for the next eight years will see the country increase its fish production through aquaculture from the current 1,700 metric tons to 450,000 metric tons per year by 2030.
He said unlike the 2009/2010 Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) which was 100 per cent funded by the government but failed the new one will see farmers contribute 30 per cent.
“Unlike the ESP where fish farmers were funded for everything 100 per cent leading to a failure of the program, the ABDP will only support them at 70 per cent so that they can feel they own it,” Ntiba said.
The official who was speaking when he officially opened a three week course for 46 Trainer of Trainers on the project implementation at the Sagana International Aquaculture Training and Research Centre, Kirinyaga County, Ntiba said due to the massive exploitation of lake fish, aquaculture farming was the future for the sector.
He said the fish in water bodies such as lakes and oceans had reached their maximum productivity and consumers could no longer expect anything new.
“This being the scenario the only escape route we have found ourselves in is that which will make our country produce 450,000 metric tons of fish by the year 2030 and to 750,000 metric tons in subsequent years up to 1 million tons and this can only be through intensified aqua-culture farming whose huge potential was yet to be exploited,” the PS said.
He said having cold water fish farming like at Kiganjo in Nyeri County and with huge rivers that flow from Mt Kenya, more efforts should be made to improve on how to exploit their fish production potential.
Ntiba said all the counties around Mt Kenya region as well as those in Western Kenya were among the 15 identified to undertake the ABDP project.
He added, “in order to attain the 450,000 metric tons of fish through aqua-culture farming we are set to introduce Aqua- Ponic farming in all schools where fish eating will be encouraged and practiced as a source of food and good nutrition.”
He said aqua ponic farming was also set to be introduced in homes since it was less labour intensive and cost effective.
Ntiba also said presently fish eating per person as at last year in the country stood at 4.6 kgs while this was set to increase to 10 kgs by the year 2030.
The PS said the ABDP was also meant to bridge the wide gap that exists in fish production in the country which stands at 170,000 metric tons with a deficit of 350,000 tons per year hence the cheap imports from China for the commodity.
“With this new approach, it will now be upon the farmers to increase production two fold as a means to cut off the imports and save the sector as their income continues to improve,” he said.
The center which was built by the colonialists is also undergoing a face lift at the tune of Sh 200 million to bring the institution to the required standards.
By Irungu Mwangi