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Kenya Leads Aquaculture In East Africa

Education & academia

KENYA - Kenya is increasingly becoming a learning centre for development of aquaculture in East Africa.

Under the Economic Stimulus Programme, some Ksh3 billion ($37.5 million) has been put into the sector creating what has become a case study as the world struggles with dwindling fish stocks amid growing demand, reports The East African.

Addressing the Lake Naivasha Basin Investment Conference in Mwanza, Tanzania, Harrison Charo-Karisa, the chairman of Aquaculture Development Working Group and coordinator aquaculture research with the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) disclosed that in the 2009/10 financial year, the government injected Ksh 1.12 billion ($14 million) into implement the Fish Farming Enterprise Productivity Economic Stimulus Programme.

Under the programme, a national aquaculture suitability appraisal was conducted and suitability maps developed for each of the 210 constituencies, and over 9.5 million hectares of land was found highly suitable for aquaculture.

The programme developed a fish selective breeding programme with a current capacity of over 150,000 brood-stock, developed fish feed specifications, encouraged fish feed producers and improved the feed supply chain enabling the farmers across the 140 constituencies use quality fish feeds.

The programme constructed over 27,000 fish ponds in the target constituencies, stocked them with over 13 million fingerlings, increased the area under aquaculture from 722 hectares to 20,000 hectares and increased national aquaculture production from 4,220 tonnes to 12,154 tonnes.

This constituted about seven per cent of the national fish production in the first year. It is projected that the production will increase to over 20,000 tonnes in the short term to over 100,000 tonnes in the medium and long terms providing close to Ksh6 billion ($75 million) as direct earnings to farmers.

The programme has created direct employment for over 28,000 fish farmers, short-term employment for over 280,000 youths and indirect employment of over 140,000 other Kenyans, and created a national short term demand of 28 million certified tilapia/cat fish fingerlings and 14,000 tonnes of specified and formulated fish feeds.

The demand for fingerlings and feeds is expected to increase to 100 million and 100,000 tonnes respectively in the medium and long terms.

The private sector is expected to be the prime mover of the seed and feed industry with government only doing regulatory functions to ensure quality of the seeds and feeds.

In the 2010/11 financial year, the Ministry of Fisheries Development has been allocated a further Ksh3 billion ($37.5 million) under the Economic Recovery, Poverty Alleviation and Regional Development Programme to construct an additional 100 ponds per constituency in the original 140 constituencies and build some other 300 ponds per constituency in 20 new constituencies country-wide.

The ministry will also construct three shallow water-retention dams in 160 constituencies, support a private sector-driven fingerling supply chain, support a rural-based fish feed development programme and employ 480 fisheries extension officers.

It will also re-stock some of the country’s lakes and rivers with fish, procure pond liner materials for the arid constituencies, digitise all ponds countrywide using GIS technology, and establish 80 mini-processing and cold storage facilities to serve the 160 constituencies.

These small processing plants will serve as nerve centres for aquaculture products branding, value addition and marketing at the constituency level.

Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute is mandated to carry out research in all aspects of aquaculture development in the freshwater and marine environments.

The research challenges which have to be met for successful aquaculture include poor quality fish seed; lack of affordable quality fish feed; resulting from lack of formulations focussing on needs for different species and different fish stages, lack of a seed, feed certification and quality assurance system; inadequate value addition, processing and weak marketing strategies; lack of policy, strategy and regulation framework for the sector; weak culture systems research for increased production; so far pond culture dominate and weak extension and technology transfer mechanism.

To meet the above challenges, the ministry has established a National Aquaculture Research, Development and Training Centre in Sagana. The centre will be the hub of a network of regional centres of excellence for aquaculture research and development located in Ngomeni at the Coast, Kabonyo in Western and Nyanza, and Kiganjo in Central province.