21 counties targeted in Sh29bn initiative to boost fish farming

Fish farming

Workers at Victory Farms load fish from a cage into a  boat at Rowo Beach in Suba Sub-county, Homa Bay County, in January last year.  

Photo credit: George Odiwuor | Nation Media Group

The national government is targeting 21 counties with a Sh29 billion initiative to help small-scale businesses engaged in aquaculture.

The initiative, comprising 12 projects, is set to be implemented by the Ministry of Mining and Blue Economy. The Cabinet Secretary, Mr Salim Mvurya, said five of the 12 projects are aimed at exploring and utilising aquatic products, marine life, aquaculture, and blue biotechnology.

The main objective of the projects is to enhance the management of priority fisheries and mariculture while increasing access to complementary livelihood activities.

“The initiative is expected to create more opportunities for fisherfolk. This will have a positive impact on their livelihoods and the local economy. Additionally, the establishment of ports will provide better access to markets, leading to increased profits,” Mr Mvurya said.

The projects will be a welcome relief to fish farmers as most continue to harvest immature cage fish for sale at a throwaway price to avoid losses due to increased deaths.

Mr Mvurya said only five of the twelve planned projects have been accounted for. One of the projects is the Sh1 billion Kabonyo Fisheries and Aquaculture Service and Training Centre of Excellence (KFASTCE) which is being implemented in partnership with government of Hungary that has provided the funding for the first phase of the project.

“The KFASTCE project will comprise the development of the Nile Perch Technology and Innovation Centre, the Aquaculture Resource Centre, and the Kenya Fishing School.”

“These facilities will serve as a training ground for fishers and mariculture farmers, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve their practices,”he said.

Jointly funded

The Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) is a Sh14.9 billion project funded the Government of Kenya and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

It is being implemented in Nyeri, Meru, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Kajiado, Machakos and Kiambu counties in the Central/Eastern region and Kakamega, Migori, Homa Bay, Busia, Kisii, Kisumu and Siaya counties in the Western region for a period of eight years.

The Kenya Marine Fisheries Socio-Economic Development Project (KEMFSED), a five-year project jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of Kenya at a cost of Sh10 billion and that is being implemented in Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu counties.

Construction of the Sh2.6 billion Shimoni fish port is estimated to take two years by the Kenya Ports Authority.

A vessel monitoring system has been installed to monitor industrial fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Ministry of Mining and Blue Economy recently launched six 12-meter patrol boats and four rigid hull inflatable boats donated by the Government of Japan through a Sh306 million grant.

“We have established a multi - agency team comprising of Kenya Fisheries Service, Kenya Coast Guard Service, Kenya Maritime Authority and county governments on monitoring, control and surveillance,” said Mr Mvurya.

The CS added that his ministry has piloted cage farming among vulnerable women groups in Siaya County.

“The ministry has plans to expand the pilot to the rest of the riparian communities. The governments of Kenya and Uganda have put in place a framework on Lake Turkana fish exports to the Democratic Republic of Congo. A unique variety of tilapia known as mango tilapia is a delicacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Mr Mvurya.