• The government can increase fish stocks through aquatic farming and stop the importation of fish from China
• Aquaculture failed due to unavailability of feeds and fingerlings and lack of extension services.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has urged the government to scale up aquaculture farming in the wake of dwindling fish stocks in Lake Victoria.
FAO fisheries coordinator in Kenya Alice Jesse said the country has the potential to produce fish through aquaculture. (Aquaculture is the farming of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms.)
Jesse said the government can increase fish stocks through aquatic farming and stop the importation of fish from China.
The FAO official was speaking in Kisumu during the closure of a training course for fisheries officers from Homa Bay, Migori, Vihiga and Kakamega.
She said aquaculture had failed due to challenges like unavailability of feeds with those available being expensive, fingerlings not readily available to farmers and also lack of extension services.
She said the government must be ready to address some of the challenges experienced during the implementation of the economic stimulus programme (ESP). The programme was initiated by the national government in 2010 to encourage aquaculture.
Jesse said FAO is ready to help the government by training field extension officers for them to guide farmers on the best ways to farm fish in ponds.
Fish consumers have been complaining over high prices of local fish due to diminishing supplies. They have resorted to cheap imports, especially from China.
This year, the ban on fish imports from China was lifted after a biting shortage.
The country imports approximately 1.8 million kilogrammes (1,800 tonnes) of fish every month. It produces about 135,000 tonnes annually against a demand of 500,000 tonnes.
Fish imports from China were worth Sh1.7 billion last year.
In 2016, the Kisumu county assembly adopted a motion on the introduction of fingerlings in Lake Victoria in collaboration with neighbouring counties.
The intention was to stock Lake Victoria with 10 million fingerlings of tilapia and Nile perch every year. This, however, came a cropper, hence the deficit and continued fish importation.