Researchers develop low cost kiln to curb fish post-harvest losses


Raphael Mbaluka of Sagana fisheries department smokes tilapia fish on a locally made fish smoking kiln at Aguthi in Tetu. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Marine researchers have developed a low-cost smoking kiln that reduces post-harvest losses in fish production.

This comes as a relief for communities that depend on fishing as an economic activity.

Due to a lack of cold storage facilities on most beaches along the lake, most fish harvested goes bad.

Christopher Aura, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) director for freshwater systems research, said despite fish smoking and drying being tried and tested preservation methods, post-harvest losses (physical and quality losses) remain due to the use of traditional and rudimentary equipment.

Head of fish quality control and post-harvest management Cyprian Odoli, however, said the new kiln has a combustion chamber, smoking unit and stackable smoking trays.

"It also has an optional shelter house to protect against adverse weather conditions," said Dr Odoli.

The modern smoking kiln has high capacity, uses less fuelwood and is user-friendly.

Enhance income

"The modern smoking kiln has proved to be a sustainable technology that can reduce fish post-harvest losses and enhance income since it is cost-effective and safe to use for fish smoking," he said.

Other regions

In addition, the kiln also produces quality smoked fish products with attributes such as good appearance, improved shelf life and appealing smell when compared to the traditional technology.

Now KMFRI wants to scale the technology to other regions whose demand would support the new technology.

"The low-cost smoking kiln, therefore, remains a technology to be upscaled because of its potential in reducing fish post-harvest losses and enhance income due to its ease of adoption by the fisher community," said Dr Odoli.

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