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Litare, the beach popular for shipping Omena

By Kevine Ogutu and James Omoro | August 5th 2021

Traders display omena type of fish at Riosiri market in Kisii County on 31/3/2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Ten minutes drive from Mbita mainland, through Mbita bridge, you come to Litare Beach.

The beach is not only the busiest fish-landing site in Rusinga Island, but the biggest producer of sardines, popularly known as omena.

The earth road, which starts a few metres after crossing Mbita bridge, is one of the busiest in Homa Bay County. It is filled with trucks and motorcycle taxis. All come to do one thing, and that is to take omena from Litare Beach to markets beyond.

"If you bought three buckets from the fishermen, by the time you are selling it while dry you gain an extra bucket," said Margaret Adhiambo, who has been in the trade for five years.

Litare Beach in Mbita Sub-county is littered with structures built of corrugated iron sheets, but this does not stop the business of getting fish from the lake at night and selling during the day.

The little-known beach along the shores of Lake Victoria is now getting popular because of the large-scale production of the small silvery fish species.

Omena has nutritional significance in the human body. It is rich in calcium needed for the formation of strong bones and teeth. It is also a source of protein needed for the repair of worn-out body tissues.

Litare is now the destination of many traders selling omena in major Kenyan towns such as Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa.

Litare's popularity as a producer of omena has been enhanced by the construction of the multi-million Mbita bridge. The bridge connecting the historic Rusinga Island to the mainland in Mbita town was completed in early 2017.

The bridge has opened the beach by enabling traders with lorries to access Litare for transportation of omena to major urban areas outside Homa Bay.

According to Litare Beach Management Unit Chairman Isaiah Pero, access of the landing site by the lorries has improved the sale of omena.

"Lorries can now access this beach and transport omena," said Pero. The omena is sold at between Sh7,000 and Sh11,000 per bag to traders.

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