Kenya is investing Sh14 billion in the fisheries sector under a new programme to bridge the deficit created by the controversial ban on China fish imports.
The aquaculture business development programme, a partnership between the government and The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is aimed at addressing the scarcity of fish in the country.
This comes barely a month after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that fish imports from China will be banned.
“We are implementing a new fisheries model aimed at addressing the current challenge that the country has faced over years,” said Sammy Macharia, assistant director of Fisheries.
The project will educate farmers in 15 counties on fish farming as a business.
It is aimed at raising the number of fish that farmers catch from a low of 100 tonnes a year to 1,000 tonnes, according to Mr Macharia.
Kenya has an annual deficit of 800,000 tonnes which is expected to persist as the largest fish source, Lake Victoria, suffers from depleted stocks.
The Economic Stimulus Programme started by former President Mwai Kibaki’s regime to bridge the deficit did not achieve much as farmers abandoned the farming.
The government anticipates that Kenya’s fish production will rise following the recent creation of a Coast Guard to stop illegal fishing that has seen the country lose up to Sh10 billion every year to foreign fishermen.
Kenya is yet to attain full potential of fishing in the Indian Ocean.
Under the Exclusive Economic Zones, local fishermen are allowed to fish up to 200 nautical miles from Kenyan shores. However, they operate at below five nautical miles for lack of appropriate fishing gear.
This has given room to developed nations with advanced gear to exploit the coast.
Leaders from all over the world are meeting in Nairobi for the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference that seeks to tap the potential of marine resources.