The government has embarked on efforts to promote fish farming in rural areas in order to bridge over 300,000 tons annual fish production deficit.
Through the Aquaculture Business Development Program (ABDP) that is being implemented in 15 counties in the Central and Western region, the government targets to produce 7,000 tons of fish annually with the capacity set to be scaled up in the coming years.
Fisheries Principal Secretary Dr. Francis Owino said the programme that covers over 7,000 farmers offers the only solution to addressing fish deficit in the country, given the dwindling fish production in lakes and inland waters.
The country’s annual fish production capacity is 400,000 tons against a demand of 600, 000 tons.
“The deficit is quite high and our capture of fish from lakes and inland waters is dwindling because of other uses of those waters like sports, transport, and the blue economy. The future now lies with aquaculture,” he said.
He was speaking at Kamwangi in Gatundu North Sub County when he issued pond liners, predator nets as well as extension service equipment such as motorbikes and laptops to over 500 fish farmers across Kiambu County.
The PS said they will continue supporting farmers with fingerlings and fish feeds as well as increase the number of farmers in the programme so as to increase fish production capacity.
He was upbeat with the uptake of the programme saying in the next three years, the fish production deficit would be bridged.
The Programme Coordinator Sammy Macharia said designated fish markets had been put up in each county so as to keep off brokers and motivate farmers in their ventures.
He said in some counties, through public private partnerships, they have established fish processing plants for value addition and storages while others have ready markets for onward sales.
In Kiambu County for example, the market has been set up in the Ruiru modern market.
Macharia at the same time said through support of cottage industries, they are working to ensure the cost of fish feed is reduced so as to ease production costs.
The farmers led by Evelyne Muthoni lauded the programme and government support saying fish proceeds would complement their earning from crop production.
Currently, the county has about 1,500 fish farmers with the county government targeting to increase the number to over 5,000 in the next three years.
By Maureen Kyalo and Muoki Charles