KENYA – The Kenya Fish Marketing Authority (KFMA), a government agency, has unveiled an ambitious plan to significantly enhance the contribution of the fish industry to the national economy.
With a strategic goal to expand the sector’s contribution by 80% from US$204.4 million to US$1 billion in the next five years, the KFMA is gearing up to revolutionize the country’s fish and fisheries products sector.
Hon. Martin Ogindo, Chair of the KFMA Board, expressed the authority’s commitment to meeting this target by intensifying efforts to boost fish production and consumption nationwide.
Despite the numerous health benefits associated with fish, including being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B2, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium, there are still pockets of resistance among consumers.
To achieve this ambitious goal, Ogindo outlined several key strategies, including harnessing research and technical expertise for evidence-based decision-making, introducing new value-added fish products, reducing post-harvest losses, and tightening quality assurance standards for fish products.
“It is encouraging to see that fish is gradually finding its place on menus across the country, even in areas where it was previously overlooked,” Ogindo stated during a visit to JKUAT, where he explored opportunities for technology transfer in the blue economy sector, including fisheries resources.
“We are confident that streamlining the industry’s value chains will propel the nation towards achieving this target in the coming years.”
Professor Daniel Sila, Principal of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (COANRE) at JKUAT, highlighted the university’s efforts in sustainable exploitation of blue economy resources, including innovations in aquaculture and human capital development.
JKUAT, KFMA’s innovations in omena value chain
Meanwhile, JKUAT, Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology, is currently collaborating with KFMA in a research project focused on upgrading the value chain of silver cyprinid fish, locally known as omena.
The collaborative project is part of a broader regional initiative called “Strengthening Agricultural Knowledge & Innovation Ecosystem for Inclusive Rural Transformation & Livelihoods in Eastern Africa (AIRTEA),” funded by the EU and coordinated by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).
Notable achievements include the deployment of hybrid (solar and biomass) greenhouse fish drying units at Dunga Beach in Kisumu County and Marenga Omena Beach in Busia County, reducing post-harvest losses significantly.
KFMA CEO, Eng. Samuel Onyango, identified challenges facing the sector, including low technology adoption, uneven distribution of gains, a lack of value-addition technologies, and poor beach access roads.
Despite these hurdles, fish production in Kenya reached 163,702 tons in 2021, with per capita fish consumption standing at 4.5 kg/person/year, below the African average of 10 kg/person/year and the global average of 20 kg/person/year.
The ongoing development of value-added omena-based products under the EU-funded project led by Prof. Ojijo and his team is expected to promote fish consumption throughout the country.
Kenya boasts 445 documented fish landing points, presenting vast potential for integrated product innovation and value addition in the industry.