Nine county governments have signed a deal to kick off aquaculture projects under a Sh15 billion donor-funded project expected to run for eight years.
The nine counties are Kisumu, Embu, Machakos, Tharaka Nithi, Kajiado, Siaya, Busia, Kiambu and Kisii.
They will benefit from the Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
In an MoU signing ceremony at the ADBP headquarters in Nyeri town, Fisheries PS Prof Micheni Ntiba said 15 counties had benefited from the project.
“The first phase of the ADBP programme signed on six counties, now we have an additional nine counties bringing the total of 15 counties,” he stated.
Ntiba praised the programme donors but encouraged counties to include aquaculture programmes in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP) to fund the activities in a sustainable manner.
“We need to ensure the aquaculture development projects continue past the eight-year donor funding provided by our donor partners,” Prof Ntiba stated.
ADBP programme coordinator Sammy Macaria said the project is meant to support farmers to commercialise fish farming.
“The project is geared towards renovating existing ponds and link farmers to input such as feed and markets. It will also transform small scale farmers into commercial fish producers who create wealth and jobs,” Macaria added.
Prof Ntiba said the national government had learned hard lessons from the Economic Stimulus Programme from the challenges faced in establishing aquaculture.
“One of the key gains we should strive for in this project is to increase income and food security for the households involved in fish farming,” Ntiba said.
The PS stated that the county is currently producing a lot of fish but still not meeting the demand.
“Currently Kenyans consume 5kg per fish per year which is a low per capita consumption compared to global standards of 20kg per person per year. With aquaculture we have the capacity to produce up to 700,000 tonnes per year,” Ntiba stated.
He stated that the counties selected for the ADBP were dealing with fresh water aquaculture, and selected based on a criteria that will lead to the spreading of fish farming in their neighbouring counties.
Governors Anyang Nyong'o (Kisumu), Martin Wambora (Embu), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), alongside deputy governors Moses Mulomi (Busia), Martin Moshisho (Kajiado) and James Okumbe (Siaya) each signed the deal with IFAD.
Nyong’o said aquaculture is critical to the future of fish farming and value addition is the next step to boost production.
“We need to grow our fish in modern ways to satisfy the needs of our people. One of the ways we can diversify the incomes of our farmers is through value addition in fish, smallscale enterprise such as leather production,” Nyong’o said.
Governor Njuki said fish is not a popular meal accepted in Tharaka NIthi county.
“These cultural barriers can be broken down by value addition because it diversifies ways to encourage consumption among communities that do not eat fish,” he explained.
He noted that he had abandoned commercial fish farming because of expensive input and lack of market.
“If we do not make fish input affordable, then aquaculture will not be a viable option for our farmers,” he warned.