State inks deal with IFAD to build fish landing sites on Lake Victoria

Agriculture Counties Editor's Pick Kisumu

The government has secured Sh1.45 billion from the International Fund and Agriculture Development (IFAD) to construct fish landing sites in Lake Victoria.

The funding channeled through the Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP), will see some 10 ultra-modern fish landing sites constructed in Busia, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, and Homa Bay counties as the government moves to revive the fisheries sector.

Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Salim Mvurya said the State Department for Blue Economy and Fisheries has already signed the agreement with IFAD, adding that a technical team was on the ground to assess the sites ahead of the official launch.

“We have a team on the ground to fast-track this project. The team will work very closely with the county governments to ensure that all the requirements are met as we roll it out,” Mvurya said.

The sites, among them Gumbe (Busia), Wichlum (Siaya), Asembo (Siaya), Ogal (Kisumu), Asat (Kisumu), Nyandhiwa (Homa Bay), Nyakula (Homa Bay), Mainuga (Homa Bay), Got Kochola (Migori) and Sori (Migori), he said, come with ultra-modern facilities to support fisherfolk and other players along the fish value chain.

The CS said the sites will act as aggregation centers, to ensure that the fisherfolk have enough cold storage facilities to keep their catch as they scout for markets.

“We have taken a shift from the traditional way of fishing where farmers catch fish and sell immediately to earn a living. We are looking at fisheries as an investment. That is why we want our fishermen and farmers to delay selling their catch so that they have enough time to get the right price,” he said.

The infrastructure being developed in the four counties, he added targets to develop the fish value chain with the by-products from the fish being stored at the landing sites used to feed light and small industries to spur economic growth at the grassroots.

The project, he said was included in the Aquaculture Business Development Programme during the mid-term review, lauding IFAD for partnering with the government to revive the fisheries and blue economy sector.

“We have had extensive discussions with IFAD where we agreed to incorporate this initiative into the project to address some of the existing gaps,” he said.

To make the landing sites vibrant, the government, he added has embarked on forming cooperatives for Beach Management Units (BMUs) to ensure that fishermen pool and sell their fish as one unit to fetch good prices.

He said the government was on course to revive the fisheries sector in Lake Victoria, Indian Ocean, and other inland water bodies.

His Ministry, he said has set aside Sh400 million to support the establishment of fish cages in Lake Victoria to boost production.

Mvurya in addition said the government has spent Sh50 million to procure six boats to enhance security within Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha, and Lake Turkana as interventions to boost fish production continue.

Scaling up production, he said was not an option since the government had banned importation of fish from China.

“We are building capacity for our farmers and the fisherfolk to ensure that they produce enough to satisfy the needs of the market,” he said.

Speaking in Kisumu during a consultative meeting on the proposed ABDP development projects in Lake Victoria, Mvurya said he has presented a cabinet memo on spatial planning of the lake.

Once approved the exercise shall commence to map out all the existing blue economy activities that can be carried out in the water body.

IFAD Country Director Mariatu Kamara said the agency would continue to partner with the government to scale up investments in the fisheries and blue economy sector.

The fish landing sites initiative, she said was a timely intervention expressing optimism that efforts to revive the fisheries sector would bear fruits.

“Kenya which has emerged as a powerhouse in the East African region remains a priority country for IFAD. We will therefore continue to partner with the government and support such initiatives,” she said.

The roundtable meeting was graced by Siaya Governor James Orengo, Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr. Mathew Owili, Migori Deputy Governor Joseph Mahiri, and Busia Deputy Governor Arthur Odera.

Other Members of Parliament present included Rosa Buyu (Kisumu West), Raphael Wanjala (Budalangi), Milly Odhiambo (Suba North), Tom Odege (Nyatike) and Ojiambo Oundo (Funyula).

By Chris Mahandara

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