• The Sh15 billion Aquaculture Business Development Programme is aimed at increasing fish production.
• Fisheries Principal Secretary Micheni Ntiba says the programme targets counties with high potential.
Fish farming will be commercialised in 15 counties following the signing of a Sh15 billion Aquaculture Business Development Programme between the government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The ABDP is aimed at increasing fish production in counties with high potential, Fisheries Principal Secretary Micheni Ntiba said on Tuesday.
Ntiba spoke during the signing of performance contract with ABDP coordinator Sammy Macaria in Kisumu.
Nyeri, Meru, Kirinyaga, Kakamega, Homa Bay and Migori are already piloting the project ahead of the rollout in nine other counties in two weeks' time.
Already, secretariats have been set up in Kisumu and Nyeri to oversee the implementation.
The programme aims to increase incomes and improve food security and nutritional status of communities.
"We want commercial fish farming. We not only want people to produce fish for their food but also for export. Fish is a big commodity for trade to create wealth and jobs in the country,” Ntiba said during the signing ceremony attended by Livestock and Fisheries executives from the target counties, among them Kisumu's Gilchrist Okuom.
The fisheries sector has the full potential to increase income generation and grow the country’s gross domestic product.
“With the project, we hope that we are going to increase fisheries productivity from aquaculture from the current less than 30 metric tons per year to 100 metric tons, and 450,000 metric tons in a short while,” the PS said.
He was optimistic that the country can produce one million tonnes of fish.
He said 42 per cent of Kenya borders the Indian Ocean. As such, there is a need to farm the ocean as other countries do.
“We are putting up a state-of-the-art mariculture centre in Kwale to enable Kenyans to farm in the sea,” Ntiba said.
The centre will provide technical services and quality fingerlings to farmers while quality laboratories in Kisumu, Nairobi, and Mombasa will be key in fish production.
The PS urged the 15 counties and their 180 subcounties to focus on commercial fish farming to achieve the objective.
"This money should not go to waste. It must give positive impacts on the livelihoods of Kenyans," he said.
The programme has two components, with the first aimed at promoting viable aquaculture business activities through group and enterprise mobilisation.
The second component consists of training and support, investment in productive infrastructure, and transfer of technology and business skills. It will also promote climate-smart technologies and practices, and environmentally sustainable forms of production.
This component will further improve the efficiency of the whole aquaculture value chain, with a concentration of programme effort and resources on operations that either include smallholders directly or demonstrably benefit the majority of small-scale producers.
“This includes strengthening the policy and regulatory framework, public infrastructure, extension capacity, priority research, quality assurance services, fish health and surveillance services, and access to financial services,” Ntiba said.
The approach blends public and private sector investments in the aquaculture value chain, with whole-community initiatives to promote good nutrition and food security.