KENYA – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is implementing a US$150 million (Shs15 billion) aquaculture project in Kenya that seeks to boost fish production in the country.

Funded by the IFAD, the eight-year project will be implemented in top aquaculture producing counties the country including Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, Embu, Isiolo, Laikipia, Kirinyaga and Nyeri, according to a Business Daily update

Fisheries Principal Secretary Prof. Micheni Ntiba challenged the county governments to partner with private sector in implementing the plan in building internal markets in order to sustain the aquaculture project.

Speaking during the Fuga, Kula, Uza Samaki campaign, an initiative that seeks to grow the local market, Micheni urged the county governments to support the programme by allocating complementary funds to aquaculture.

“Without consuming the products we will not succeed because outside markets are controlled by other factors. We have to build our internal markets if this project is to succeed,” he insisted.

Kenya has an annual fish demand of 500,000 tonnes compared to 148,300 tonnes produced in 2018, leaving an annual deficit of about 350 000 tonnes.

The aquaculture project comes as a boost to the eeast African nation which is also trying to plug the deficit by promoting aquaculture through the Economic Stimulus Programme.

Aquaculture provides up to 24 per cent of the country’s total fish production, with the balance coming from rivers, lakes and Indian Ocean.

In 2018, Lake Victoria in the western region of the country accounted for 66.1 per cent of the total fish landed with an output of 98,200 tonnes while marine fish landed increased by a paltry 4.1 per cent to 24,200 tonnes.

However, according to the department of fisheries, the catch from Lake Victoria has been dwindling over the years as a result water pollution and restrictions fishing in neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania.

On the other hand, lack of adequate expertise and fishing technology as well as inadequate investments in deep water fishing, especially in the Indian Ocean, have been attributed to the continued low share of marine fish landing.

The fishing industry in Kenya recorded a 4.5% increase in earnings to US$240m (Kshs 24 billion) in 2018.