Boon for Kenya’s fishing industry as govt approves US$20M Kisumu fish project

KENYA – Kenya’s fishing industry has received a major boost following the approval of a KES 2.5 billion (US$20.35 million) Kabonyo-Kanyagwal fish project.

The project located in the country’s lakeside county Kisumu is set to increase the country’s fingerling production by seven billion annually.

The new Kisumu-based fisheries and aquaculture research centre is funded by the Republic of Hungary and the government of Kenya and is sure to make Kenya a leading player in the aquaculture sector in Africa.

The first phase of this project will be commissioned by Kenya’s President William Ruto in February 2023 and will cost KSH1 billion, according to Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Salim Mvurya.

Phase II of the project will receive a further 1.5 billion in funding and upon completion, the facility will supply the nation with several aquaculture interventions.

Besides fingerling production, other components of the project include the facilitation of training and research, a Nile Perch multiplication centre, and the Kenya fishing School as communicated by the CS.

The Kenyan fish production and harvest have declined from 200,000 tonnes in the early 2000s to 90,000 in 2021 according to the Kenya Fisheries Service (KFS) board.

Separate data from the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) reports a decline from 200,000 tonnes in 2000 to 150,000 in 2022.

This figure is expected to drop further due to the rise of illegal fishing and it requires concerted efforts to save the once very lucrative sector, Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy PS Francis Owino said.

According to the State Department of Fisheries, Kenya imported 14.8 million kilograms of fish from China worth Sh2 billion, giving China control of 83% of the aquatic trade of Kenya.

Aquatic Scientist Philip Raburu also added, “Before farmers purchase fingerlings, they have to know how long the fish will take to grow which is determined by genetics, and the sex composition of the seed.

 The situation we have now is unscrupulous, traders just trawl for fingerlings by the lake which they sell at the same rate as authentic fish fingerlings. This leads to stunted fish which cause massive losses for farmers.”

Within the next three years, Kenya is estimated to have a shortfall of 350 million kgs of fish which will result in a decline in per capita average fish consumption from the standard global value of 16.5 kg/person/year to 3.5 kg/person/year.

Once fully operational, the new fish project may prevent this scenario from happening by providing farmers with an adequate supply of high-quality fingerlings.

Cabinet secretary Salim Mvurya said that apart from being a centre of excellence, this project aims to revolutionize the Kisumu fish sector and provide job opportunities for the county’s residents.

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