By George Munene
The Sh2.5 billion Kabonyo-Kanyagwal fisheries and aquaculture research center in Kisumu is set to increase Kenya’s fish fingerling production and distribution by seven million annually.
This will make Kenya a leading player in African aquaculture, revolutionise Kisumu’s fish sector, and provide thousands of jobs for the county’s residents.
The Kabonyo Fisheries Center of Excellence which is constructed in conjunction with the Hungarian government will receive a further Sh1.5 billion in funding and upon its completion will involve the development of a Nile Perch and development center, an aquaculture resource center and the Kenya Fishing School.
The project’s first phase which has been approved by the cabinet is slated for completion in February 2023 at a cost of Sh1 billion.
According to Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Kenya’s fish harvest has decreased from 200,000 metric tonnes in 2000 to about 150,000 metric tonnes in 2022.
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The quality of fish seed has been fingered as a major cause of dwindling fish stocks in the country. “Before farmers purchase fingerlings, they have to know how long the fish will take to grow which is determined by genetics, and the sex composition of the seed. The situation we have now is unscrupulous traders just trawl for fingerlings by the lake which they sell at the same rate as authentic fish fingerlings. This leads to stunted fish which cause massive losses for farmers,” explained Aquatic Scientist Philip Raburu.
Speaking at Kabonyo Sub-Location, Kisumu County, Mining and Blue Economy Cabinet Secretary Salim Mvurya said that apart from being a center of excellence, the project will also supply other aquaculture interventions in the country and supply over seven million fingerlings annually to farmers.
The CS further noted that the government had constructed the Lwanda Kotieno fish land site for Sh124 million with a similar project ongoing at Mulukoba in Busia and other more money is being sought for the construction of Ogal, Wich Lum, and Asat beaches.
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According to the State Department of Fisheries, Kenya imported 14.8 million kilograms of fish from China worth Sh2 billion–a 25 per cent from last year. This means the Southeast nation controls 83 per cent of of aquatic trade in the country. Other import nations include Uganda, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Kenya is estimated to have a shortfall of 360 million kilograms of fish within the next three years which will result in a decline in per capita average consumption of fish to 3.5 kg/person/year compared to the global average of 16.3 kg/person/year.