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New Aquaculture Initiative for Kenya's Western Province


KENYA - Western Province is set to benefit from a new fish farming plan to boost local incomes and provide employment.

An initiative to expand fishing in Western province will be unveiled next week as part of the national economic stimulus package, according to All Africa.

Fisheries minister, Paul Otuoma, said that the sector is poorly developed in Western province, which has huge potential for rearing fish.

Fishing is only practised on a commercial scale in Budalang'i and Funyula constituencies, which border Lake Victoria. Between them, they generate about 300 million shillings (KES).

The 24 constituencies in the province are now earmarked to benefit from the fish farming plan that targets 4,800 fish ponds being dug in the region to raise different fish species.

This, the minister said, would help boost fish production in the province in order to more fully harness its potential.

"We are highly endowed with wetlands that are not being properly utilised and that could help in fish rearing," he added.

The project is expected to create 50,000 jobs in the province.

Dr Otuoma said fish farming would also open up other opportunities for the province's residents such as fish feed production and rearing of fish fingerlings.

He estimated that up to 16 million fish fingerlings would be required initially for the fish stimulus programme.

The need for cold storage facilities is also set to increase substantially in parts of Western Kenya as a result.

A team from the fisheries ministry is currently on a trip to Indonesia where fish farming has transformed fish production in the last four years, from one million tonnes in 2004, to seven million tonnes at present. Dr Otuoma said such trips would inform local initiatives in the province to boost fish production.

Analysts say that the ongoing expansion of the Kisumu Airport raises the market prospects of fish raised in the province.

Several fish processing factories would also come up in the region, thus creating several employment opportunities.

Estimates by the fisheries ministry indicate that Kenya has about 1.4 billion hectares of potential fish farming areas. From these, the country could generate KES 750 billion from the sale of fish.

All Africa reports that, at present, Kenya relies largely on fish netted from its water bodies, with little effort being made towards aquaculture. The country's fish production stands at 4,220 tonnes.