The private sector has been urged to invest in fisheries and the blue economy since these sectors hold millions’ worth of unexploited prospects.
State Department for fisheries, aquaculture and the Blue Economy Principal Secretary, Prof Micheni Ntiba said being a key component of fisheries, aquaculture holds great opportunities for investment, which would in turn benefit fish farmers and the economy
He spoke during the National Agriculture Summit which brought together representatives from the national and county governments, farmer organisations, research institutions, private sector, NGOs and development partners and was convened by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa).
The fisheries PS noted that there is an expansion in global consumption of fish, which has been driven not only by increasing production, but also factors such as reduced wastage and postharvest loss alleviations.
“Aquaculture has contributed significantly in the growth of fish production as by 2016, it constituted approximately 47 percent of the total global fish production of 171million tonnes, and these figures are bound to increase and likely surpass those of the other sources such as lakes,” said Prof Ntiba.
Fisheries resources, he said, play a key role in food and nutrition security as fish accounts for 17 percent of global protein source.
In Kenya, the total fish production is 167,000tonnes from both aquaculture and capture fisheries. The per capita fish consumption stands at 4.7kg per person per annum, which is lower than the average rate for East Africa Community and African continent –7kg and 10kg per person per annum respectively.
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“The country targets to increase its per capita fish consumption to 10kg per person per year by 2030. And our strategic actions to achieve this include increasing production from aquaculture, small scale fisheries and industrial and semi-industrial fishing operations as well as reducing postharvest losses. Essentially, fish for our tables will largely come from farmed fish resources,” said Prof Ntiba.
The country, he noted, is expected to have a fish deficit of roughly 400,000tonnes per year as consumption increases, necessitating increased production especially through aquaculture.
He listed approaches including increasing area under aquaculture from 1873ha to 3375ha, increasing smallholder productivity from 225 to 1050kg/farmer through improved seed and feed availability and cost reduction of inputs as key elements that his state department is working on to address the expected shortfall.
Others include increasing fish cages especially in dams in the country from 3000 to 10,000, stocking irrigation canals and dams, promoting intensive aquaculture systems, distributing 100,000 high performance brood-stock to hatcheries for multiplication, and developing an aquaculture development plan.
He also cited increasing capture fisheries’ production as well as that of the marine and inland fisheries and supporting development of aquaculture fish market outlets across the country.
“The county governments need to mobilise farmers, provide extension services, create market linkages, provide access roads, encourage fish consumption and promote fish quality sanitary standards and programmes. And the private sector has a key role to play in promoting the ideals of aquaculture as well as other investments in the blue economy,” he added indicating that the fisheries sector alone has the potential of providing up to 10million jobs directly and indirectly.
He also cited farming in the sea –seaweed farming, ocean cage fish-farming and mariculture, among others as other components that require private sector investment.