The country’s annual fish demand has risen to 700,000 metric tonnes against the production of 120,000 metric tonnes annually.
According to latest data by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), CEO James Njiru said the only way the country could meet the rising demand was through aquaculture farming.
“Of the total annual fish catch in the country, 90 per cent is from fish captured in our lakes and ocean,” he said.
The researcher said the country needs to produce over 100 million fingerlings every year for the aquaculture sector to meet demand.
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This came as the government defended import of fish produce from China, noting that it assisted in addressing the demand.
“We have received complaints about imports of fish from China, but we also export some of our fish products to other countries and we should thus embrace competition,” he said. “China fish is not bad.”
Njiru further said that fish catch in various lakes was on the decline as more farmers entered into aquaculture, which was more productive and profitable.
Addressing the Press in Naivasha, he identified the provision of quality fingerlings and feed as the major challenges currently facing the sector.
“The government has set aside Sh12 billion for construction of a hatchery in Shimoni in the Coast to produce quality fingerlings,” he added.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation’s Jane Wamuongo said they were working with 24 counties under the Climate Smart Agriculture Project to boost fish production.
Of the 24, five counties including Lamu, Siaya, Busia, Kakamega and Marsabit would get support towards aquaculture farming.
“This programme is worth over Sh41 million and is meant to produce quality fingerlings,” she said. The coordinator of the Smart Agriculture project, James Singi, said World Bank gave Sh25 billion in support of the programme.