by Joy Nabukeya
KILIFI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s huge
aquaculture potential that has not been fully exploited has the
capacity to leapfrog the country to greater heights of economic
progress, experts have said.
The experts noted that
dwindling fish stocks in large water bodies like seas, oceans
and lakes, which is linked to climate change and
over-exploitation, demands a paradigm shift.
During an interview with Xinhua in the coastal town of Kilifi
recently, the experts urged policymakers to emulate Asian
countries that have invested heavily in aquaculture that promise
better economic and social outcomes to farmers.
Brendan Muli, a consultant at Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), said the Kenyan coast in particular can
become a leading producer of farmed fish subject to
establishment of adequate structures.
The mariculture expert cited China as one of the leading
producers and exporters of farmed fish, an indication that with
proper planning, Kenya could join the league of countries with
success stories on aquaculture.
According to IBIS World’s Fish Farming market research report
which provides the latest industry statistics and trends, China
has the largest aquaculture industry in the world, accounting
for about two-thirds of total cultivated aquatic products across
The report says that 2017 output for the fish farming
industry is expected to reach 20.2 million tons, or 40.9 percent
of total cultivated aquatic products and 30.1 percent of total
aquatic products in China.
"Over the five years to 2017, industry revenue is expected to
grow at an annualized rate of 4.8 percent, with an anticipated
2.5 percent growth in 2017 to 41.2 billion U.S. dollars,"
concludes the report.
The Chairman of Mtongani Conservation and Eco-tourism group
in Kilifi County, Elvis Ndundi, said the biggest challenge was
in getting enough seed alongside separating fish species from
"Fingerling collection is a strenuous undertaking because
this is what will determine the type of harvest a farmer will
have after three months," said Ndundi.
His organization has four big ponds and has also managed to
go deep into the ocean to put a big cage to trap red snapper
type of fish.
The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and
FAO contend that lack of quality seeds and feed are the main
drawback in fish farming, thus denying thousands of people an
opportunity to create wealth through this enterprise.
To address these bottlenecks in aquaculture, plans are in
place to set up hatcheries in Kwale and establish efficient
procurement system for seeds and feeds to ensure the enterprise
Kenya’s marine research agency has already unveiled plans to
put a multi-million hatchery on a 25 acre piece of land in
Shimoni, Kwale County.
James Mwaluma, the Assistant Director in charge of
Mariculture at KMFRI said that steady supply of seeds and feeds
underpins sustainable aquaculture.
"Inadequate supply of seeds and feeds has been the biggest
challenge in the expansion of marine fish farming," said Mwaluma.
"It was for this reason that KMFRI availed the land in
Shimoni for this purpose and gone ahead to request for funds for
a hatchery that is estimated to cost 10 million dollars," he
The Executive Director, Community Action for Nature
Conservation (CANCO), Hadley Becha said that friendly policies
and robust financing are key to fuel growth of aquaculture in
"The funds should not be for research alone, but should also
assist in determining the mariculture production and supply
sustainability; product quality and market, value addition;
business model training and capacity building; conflict and
environmental pollution mitigation measures; and more
importantly, commercialization," said Becha.
Muli agreed that aquaculture at the Kenyan coast will open
new revenue streams to farmers while addressing the crises of
malnutrition that affects vulnerable groups like children and
He urged the government to prioritize financing towards
aquaculture and educate farmers on its importance.
"The Kenyan Government should allocate more resources to
aquaculture in order to incentivize farmers to venture into it,"
He noted there is cause for optimism following plans by FAO
to set up two facilities in the north coast for crab farming and
another one for other species like milk fish.
Muli said that immense research has gone into fish farming
hence the realization that collecting fingerlings from the wild
was not economically viable.
He told Xinhua the FAO - funded hatcheries will address
bottlenecks in accessing feeds alongside efficient sorting out
of fingerlings to weed out predators.
"Marine fish have different feeding habits from their fresh
"All along farmers have been using fresh water fish feed that
has been found to be inadequate in terms of nutritional value,"