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Strengthening the aquaculture ecosystem in Kenya

13 March 2020

Strengthening the aquaculture ecosystem in Kenya

International NGO Farm Africa has received funding from the Open Society Foundations to build a resilient and inclusive policy environment for the development of Kenya’s aquaculture sector.

Demand for fish in Kenya is increasing rapidly due to population growth, rising incomes and increased awareness about the nutritional benefits of fish. But the country’s wild fisheries are struggling to meet demand.

Intervening in Kakamega, Busia, Homa Bay, Siaya and Vihiga counties, Farm Africa’s two-year Strengthening the Aquaculture Ecosystem in Kenya (SAEK) project, which is set to run until the end of 2021, will facilitate knowledge sharing in market systems, business development and finance, as well as supporting the lobbying of policies and strategies to spur growth in the aquaculture environment so that farmers are able to build thriving businesses capitalising on the rising demand for fish, an affordable and nutritious source of protein.  

Kenya’s nascent aquaculture industry is fraught with wide-ranging structural impediments in policy, market systems development, financing and environmental conservation. This has resulted in an inconsistent and non-inclusive policy environment, vague aquaculture strategies at different levels, inefficient market systems for smallholder farmers (particularly women and youth), limited financing options and low adherence to environmental regulations. These challenges are holding back many fish farmers from being able to keep their aquaculture businesses afloat.

With empowered associations of fish farmers being key to amplifying producer voices and undertaking evidence-based advocacy, the programme will work with the Aquaculture Association of Kenya (AAK) in a bid to strengthen the association’s institutional capacity to push for aquaculture reforms such as enabling policies in Nyanza and Western counties as well as nationally.

Aquaculture has the potential to spur socio-economic development by increasing employment and boosting incomes. Farm Africa will work with the five county governments involved to position fish farming as a strategic sector and develop progressive policies and implementation strategies.

Building on past studies (by international consultants) and taking into consideration emerging developments, SAEK will identify and disseminate opportunities for improved environmental and sustainable processes and facilitate advocacy by the Cage Culture Association of Kenya (CCAK) for a clear self-regulatory framework.

To implement the initiative, Farm Africa will work in partnership with Echo Network Africa (ENA), Kenya Female Advisory Organisation (KEFEADO), The Aquaculture Association of Kenya (AAK), County Governments of Kakamega, Busia, Homa Bay, Siaya and Vihiga, State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy, Victory Farms and Rio Holdings.

Farm Africa has been actively promoting the adoption of aquaculture best practices through piloting models targeting production and market systems as well as lobbying for enabling policies. The recently concluded Kenya Market-led Aquaculture Programme saw the total fish production of the 1,114 farmers taking part rising more than threefold from 249 metric tonnes (MT) annually in 2016 to 912 metric tonnes (MT) annually in 2019.