CRISIS

Prices drop, Turkana fishermen appeal for help

Congolese buyers control prices, small tilapia price dropped from Sh10 to Sh1

In Summary
  • They say Congolese the biggest buyers for export who control the market and set low prices.
  • Fishermen say despite the scarcity of fish in the lake, prices are still low.
Kalokol fishmongers at the shores of Lake Turkana drying fish.
CRISIS: Kalokol fishmongers at the shores of Lake Turkana drying fish.
Image: HESBORN ETYANG

Fish dealers at Lake Turkana on Wednesday protested against the law price of fish in the market.

They said that despite the scarcity of fish, buyers in quantity are still setting low prices.

Fish dealers from the Democratic Republic of Congo are the main buyers of the fish for export.

Turkana fishermen also supply fish to Busia, Kisumu, Kitale and Nairobi.

It’s a crisis; we are incurring heavy losses. I can't pay bills because I'm forced to sell fish at throwaway prices. The price has drastically dropped yet we struggle daily to drop our nets to catch fish.
Fisherman Emmanual Ekai

Fishmongers led by Emmanuel Ekai, said the Congolese, the main buyers,  are controlling the market by setting prices.

He said they are incurring heavy losses as they are forced to sell their fish at any price because fish are perishable.

“It’s a crisis for us here; we are incurring heavy losses at the lake. I’m not able to pay my bills because I'm forced to sell my fish at throwaway prices to only pay tax. The price of fish has drastically dropped yet we struggle daily to drop our nets to catch fish, Ekai said.

The rice of small tilapia has dropped from Sh10 to Sh1.

Ekai has urged the Turkana county and the national government to intervene and set a reasonable standard price of fish to benefit fishermen, sellers and to boost the economy.

Fish dealer Mary Akiruon the shores of Kalokol, Lake Turkana, said she cannot pay her bills because of falling prices.

“The DRC has been the main buyer of the fish at Lake Turkana for export but now they want to take control of the market by buying our fish at very a low price. The government should ensure the price of fish is set,” she said.

Akiru said the falling prices force some fishermen to keep their fish in stores to at least weigh them for the market.

In November 2018, it was reported that fishmongers at Lake Turkana were counting losses because some DRC buyers pulled out due to the Ebola outbreak.

(Edited by V. Graham)