Aquaculture contributes to the attainment of food and nutritional security by providing high quality fish proteins and micro and macro nutrients thus minimizing hidden hunger. It also contributes to livelihood security by providing rural house-holds with an extra source of income. Fish produced and consumed in Kenya have traditionally been from lake Victoria.
The lake, however, is currently experiencing challenges of pollution, eutrophication, loss of biodiversity and invasion of water hyacinth.
Demand for high quality fish products is increasing locally and globally due to its high content of the nutritionally essential omega-3 fatty acids. The gap between per capita fish demand and supply will only be met through aquaculture.
Government intervention in aquaculture started in 1921 but despite many initiatives, aquaculture has not been fully mainstreamed into our farming systems. Its contribution to the national economy is small, and most aquaculture projects previously started by the government lacked sustainability and became non-functional within a few years of their launching.
Recently, the government identifying aquaculture as one of the sectors to benefit from the economic stimulus package. In this regard, 1.12 billion Kenya shilling was set aside in 2009/2010 budget for construction of fish ponds in 140 constituencies. The success of the current government initiative will depend on the extent to which factors that contributed to past failures and non-sustainability are identified and appropriate interventions instituted. Good seeds, high quality inexpensive feeds, disease management and quality control and value addition are important aspects in commercialization and sustainability of aquaculture programmes.
The overall objective of this project is to address the main factors that affect sustainability and commercialization of aquaculture. The approach adopted will be one of analyzing the fish and aquaculture value chains, identifying constraints and opportunities, and developing interventions at all the weak links at all levels of the chain.
Objective one: To engage stake-holders and carry out a baseline study to map out the status of aquaculture in the country, assess the main economic, social, production, gender, disease and environmental factors that affect the commercialization and sustainability of the sector and identify and document aquaculture value chain processes.
Objective two: To facilitate a gradual aquaculture commercialization process through facilitation of aquaculture best production practices.
Objective three: To develop and document appropriate fish processing and value addition capacities in participating communities.
Objective four: To disseminate research findings, build capacities in communities, establish
relevant partnerships and influence policy.