Kenya’s Lake Region Economic Block to benefit from US$1.1m fish processing plant

KENYA – Kenya’s county government, Kakamega, has commissioned a fish processing plant with a capacity to process 30 metric tonnes of fish per day, providing a ready market for farmers in the 14-member Lake Region Economic Block (LREB).

The facility which has been under construction since 2009, received initial financial backing of Ksh. 60 million from the National Government with the county government spending another Ksh20m.

To propel the finalization of the project, the investor running the factory, DAS Limited invested Ksh40 million.

“The County Government appreciates our partners, the National Government through the Economic Stimulation Programme (ESP) and the DAS Group Kenya Limited, for investing over Kshs. 40 million (DAS) to upgrade this facility to ensure it meets all the requirements qualifying it to export fish to the much-coveted European Union (EU) market,” said Kakamega County Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

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Other than eyeing the export market, the factory will meet the growing local demand of fish, with Kenya’s per capita consumption set at 4.5 kg.

The processing plant which began operations this month will be supplied by the county’s 6,976 fish farmers and 9,988 fish ponds, which have the potential to produce a total of 1,798 metric tonnes of fish in a seven-month production cycle.

Kenya’s per capita fish consumption currently stands at 4.5kg

The factory will not only provide a market for fish harvested by farmers in Kakamega and Western counties but also the entire Lake Region Economic Bloc.

Establishment of the fish industry is aimed to enable the farmers to diversify from over-reliance on sugarcane farming which over the years has been facing a myriad of challenges including lack of reliable market.

“With high population density, most farmers have small parcels, meaning agriculture can only be at subsistence level. Fish farming offers the best alternative as it requires less space with high returns,” Oparanya said.

The opening of the factory comes barely four weeks after the Aquaculture Academy awarded Kakamega as the best aquaculture county in Kenya.

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With Kenya’s appetite for fish growing by the day, the sector is attracting investors from both local and international players.

Kenyan aquaculture farm bags investment

Recently, East Africa’s largest commercial fish farm, Victory Farms, has received a multi-million-dollar mezzanine debt investment from social impact investor specializing in the African agriculture sector, AgDevCo.

The investment will support the company’s continued growth and impact, including the construction of a feed mill and expansion into new countries in the East Africa region, growing its foot prints beyond Kenya.

Founded in 2015, Victory Farms operates a vertically integrated business, with its own hatchery, nursery ponds and deep-water cages in Lake Victoria, plus a processing plant and a distribution network comprising 45 wholly-owned retail locations.

Its direct customers are several thousand market women who buy fish in small batches from Victory Farms’ outlets, before cooking and selling them in local food markets.

The company is currently selling 1.5 million fresh fish per month, which are grown using the best aquaculture practices from around the globe, without antibiotics.

With this transaction, AgDevCo becomes the largest investor in Victory Farms to date, alongside the founding shareholders and external investors DOB Equity, Msingi East Africa, Ceniarth, CIVF, MCE Social Capital and DEG.

Kenya is endowed with a vast network of aquatic resources comprising freshwater lakes and rivers and an extensive ocean resource base.

Aquaculture has grown rapidly in the country over the last one decade and plays an increasingly important role in national fish supply.

Freshwater fish account for close to 98% of Kenya’s reported aquaculture production. Kenya is currently ranked 4th major producer of aquaculture in Africa, according to FAO.

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