The Government in partnership with other development partners has secured Ksh 14.9 billion to promote the aquaculture sector in the country.
The funds targeting farmers in at least 15 counties is intended to accelerate production in the aquaculture sector by economically empowering fish farmers to improve their returns and output that meets the demands of the domestic market.
Through the initiative the government intends to double the current per Capita fish consumption in the country from the current 4.5 kg per person annually to over 10 kg per person by the year 2030 .
This however will entail working towards reviving aquaculture and thus indicate a huge indicates a huge consumption gap and a potential market for the Kenyan fish farmers that needs to be filled.
Speaking during the commissioning and handing over of vehicles for the project dubbed Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP), Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that fish farmers will benefit from soft loans and other farm inputs.
“Small scale fish farmers will benefit from soft loans to be extended under this project that is funded by the Government and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The CS explained that the project presents great opportunities for over 35,500 households accounting to 213,000 beneficiaries who include smallholder aquaculture farmers, input suppliers, aggregators (Independent Aquaculture Aggregators), processors through Public-Private-Producer-Partnerships (PPPP).
He said the project was part of the key components of the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) 2018-2022 designed to achieve 100 per cent food and nutrition security.
Counties to benefit under the project include Nyeri, Meru, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Kiambu ,Kajiado and Machakos in the Central and Eastern region and Kakamega, Migori, Homa Bay, Busia, Kisii, Kisumu and Siaya in the Western Region.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture has a big potential and there is already a significant gap between the current fish demand of 600,000 metric tonnes and 150,000 tonnes national fish production.
Although the project delayed for one year, the CS said it will be implemented in the next 10 years and this will ensure small scale farmers and farmer groups fully adopt fish industry as part of enhancing food and nutrition security.
Munya who commissioned and handed over 16vehicles for the aquaculrue programme at Kilimo house noted that the vehicles will be hand-over to the first six counties under ABDP implementation namely Nyeri, Meru, Kirinyaga, Homa Bay, Kakamega and Migori Counties and the ABDP Programme Coordination Unit.
The remaining 9 Counties under ABDP will receive similar support in the next Fiscal Year, he said adding that under the project key concern include support to County-level extension service provision, support to smallholder aquaculture farmers to acquire inputs and rehabilitation and construction of production units.
“ Capacity building for aquaculture value-chain players will complete the link between producers and markets for farmed fish and be able to create structured markets and institutions in the aquaculture value chain”, the CS said
According to the CS the small holder farmers will be organized into small holder aquaculture groups to support counties in making the mini fish processing plants in Meru, Nyeri, Kakamega and Migori
“ They will develop into aquaculture business hubs, support over 5,500 youths through aquaculture support enterprises (ASEs) through MSMEs related interventions and support over 63,900 women to form viable aquaculture related enterprises”, Munya said
IFAD Country Director Esther Kasulu – Coffin said that the aquaculture sub-sector supports over 60,000 people directly, as fishermen, and over 73,000 fish farmers with close to 70,000 stoked fish ponds.
“The sub-sector supports about 1.2 million people directly and indirectly, working as fishers, traders, processors, suppliers and merchants of fishing accessories and employees”, she said .
Kasulu emphasized that besides being a rich source of protein especially for riparian communities, the sector is also important for the preservation of culture, national heritage, and recreational purposes.
The Country Director has however cautioned on the usage of the vehicles saying they should be used for the intended purpose and not diverted to other projects.
Principal Secretary Fisheries, Prof. Micheni Ntiba said as a department they will continue to support the national Eat More Fish Campaigns and urged the Counties to also replicate the same to ensure the government reaches the global average of 20kgs per person per year by the time the ABDP programmes comes to an end.
The Government of the Republic of Kenya has realized the key role played by Fisheries and Aquaculture sub-sector and launched a large-scale aquaculture support programme under the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) during the period 2009 – 2013 to promote smallholder aquaculture fish production through targeted support for input supply, fish production, post-harvest management and related activities.
The ESP achieved a rapid expansion in the productive infrastructure in the Subsector, including regions of the country with little history of fish production or consumption.
By Wangari Ndirangu