Kenya, Uganda agree to ease fish exports to DRC after trade talks

Traders sorting salted fish from Lake Turkana at a depot in Busia. December 1, 2021. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Kenya and Ugandan authorities have signed a bilateral agreement that will facilitate the smooth flow of fish exports from Lake Turkana to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A delegation from Kenya and Uganda led by Kenya Fisheries Principal Secretary Francis Owino and his Ugandan Agriculture counterpart Maj Gen David Kyomukama toured Turkana County to identify challenges faced by fishermen in the region.

The delegation mapped out business opportunities in the fish trade in the region and discussed the way to resolve challenges faced by fishermen.

The team held a meeting at the Turkana County Commissioner’s office in Lodwar, before embarking on a trip to the shores of Lake Turkana to witness the type and size of fish recommended for harvesting and holding grounds.

In a closed-door meeting at the County Commissioner Mauthama Wambua’s office, Mr Owino said the two teams agreed to study the flow of fish from Lake Turkana to the Busia border point.

“We have engaged various key stakeholders from the Kenyan side regarding fish transportation across the border. We are optimistic that the mission will unlock the challenges faced by the fishing community in the region,” Owino said.

The delegation resolved to form a multi-agency team headed by Mr Muthama that will ensure compliance in the fish trade.

It includes the Kenya Revenue Authority and security and public health department. The team concluded the fact-finding mission last Friday and agreed to issue a joint communiqué at the Busia border point to share their findings and recommendations. Maj Gen Kyomukama said his team had joined their Kenyan counterparts in seeking a solution on how to structure the fish trade from Turkana through Uganda to DRC.

DRC is the largest consumer of Turkana fish. “I will ensure the smooth flow of fish from Kenya to DRC. We will improve the system as required. We want to improve the current system,” said Kyomukama.

He warned that the region stands to lose revenue if there is no sustainable fish trade between Kenya and DR Congo. Last year, traders said their salted fish valued at Sh200 million was rotting at the Busia border after Uganda banned them.

Kenyan exports to the DRC stood at Sh14.2 billion in 2020, up from Sh13.4 billion in 2019 according to Data Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

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