Aquaculture farmers in Migori County of Kenya have benefited from pod liners and fishing nets, courtesy of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
According to Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Mr. Lawrence Omuhaka, the donation will go towards boosting production of fish in the county.
Speaking during an event that brought together the national government, county government and farmers, Omuhaka said that the fishing gears would steer food and nutrition goals of Vision 2030 which is among the Big Four Agenda of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
IFAD, in partnership with the national government, distributed 390 pod liners and 390 fishing nets to selected farmers in all the eight sub counties in the region.
Migori agricultural extension officers also received five motorbikes to assist their mobility while visiting aquaculture farmers.
IFAD also gave out three laptops to help in gathering, recording and storing of information on pods, the fish production and other necessary data that would help improve the production of fish farming in the county.
Omuhaka said that the Aquaculture Business Development Programme (ABDP) is supported by IFAD and the national government to steer Migori County and the Nation at large economically in line with the dreams of Vision 2030 of achieving food security and nutrition.
The CAS pointed out that due to health issues, many people have started to embrace the diet of white meat that included fish for a healthy living.
He said that Kenya’s demand for fish was growing at a higher rate while the supply was greatly reducing.
“By the year 2021, the demand for fish in Kenya will be 3, 360,000 metric tons. Lake Victory will never increase in size but the population will keep on growing. For us to be able to meet the demand, we must transform aquaculture to satisfy the local consumption and exports,” said Omuhaka.
At the same time, he explained that the government had put in place necessary measures and initiatives in the agricultural sectors to ensure the development of the social economic status of the society through funding such projects like the ABDP.
Omuhaka congratulated Migori County for demonstrating a huge potential in the agricultural sector especially in aquaculture farming. He said that the Aquaculture Business Development Programme would directly support 23,700 small aquaculture farmers who would be able to produce individually one ton of fish annually.
National Programme Coordinator for ABDP Mr. Sammy Macaria urged the farmers to invest in two fishing pods in order to achieve the one ton annual production.
He said that the Aquaculture Business Development Programme would support the youth to start aquaculture farming so that they could turn it into a business venture to improve their living standards.
Macaria said that distributed fishing liners and nets aid would help to curb the pre harvest losses.
He said that the nets were designed in a special way that would prevent birds and other fish predictors from feeding on fish.
The official further acknowledged that the distributed fishing nets and liners were 300 square meters and were capable of producing about a half a ton of fish annually.
The Principal Secretary, State Department for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and The Blue Economy Dr. Francis Owino who also graced the occasion, said the government was in the process of coming up with the cage farming regulations by the end of September this year that aimed at regulating cage fish farming in the lake.
He said that the Aquaculture Business Development Programme would help to ease the overfishing pressure in Lake Victoria.
Migori Governor Zachary Okoth Obado applauded the Aquaculture Business Development Programme that aims to create sustainable development goals to ensure that the county and nation at large is food secure by 2030.
He, however, urged the national government and partners to also invest in feed formulation and production which he said was the biggest predicament in the agricultural sector.
Apart from Migori County, the Aquaculture Business Development Programme will also be implemented in 15 counties in Western, Central, Nyanza and Rift Valley regions.
By Geoffrey Makokha