By Peter Oliver Ochieng
A fish processing plant worth Ksh120 million (about EUR 937, 500) has been commissioned in Kakamega County to address challenges that farmers have been facing in marketing their fish.
Speaking during commissioning of the plant at Lutonyi, Shieywe Ward in Lurambi Constituency, Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, Kakamega Governor said it has a capacity to process 30 metric tonnes of fish per day, urging farmers to pull up their sleeves in as far as fish production is concerned.
“This factory will address the challenges fish farmers have had in marketing their fish. The plant has a capacity to process 30 metric tonnes of fish per day. Therefore, there is need for farmers to increase fish productivity for adequate supply to the factory,” he said noting that Kakamega County has 6, 976 farmers with a total of 9, 988 fish ponds.
“This has a potential to produce a total of 1, 798 metric tonnes of fish in a seven month production cycle. This tonnage translates to Ksh539 million (about EUR 4.2 million). This in itself indicates how fast fish farming has grown in the County.”
The Governor said fish farming comes with a myriad of challenges, among them high cost of fish feeds, marketing of fish and fish products, predators and high cost of fingerlings. To this end, his administration has put in place a host of strategies to counter the challenges, he said.
These include supporting operationalization of the fish factory, organizing various groups that are practicing fish farming to form Cooperatives so that marketing of their produce can be easy, stocking and introduction of fish cages in dams to enhance production and promote entrepreneurship, and working together with Lake Region Economic Block (LREB) to produce and sell their fish to the processing plant thus providing them with an avenue for export.
LREB comprises of 14 Counties, namely; Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Vihiga, Nandi, Bomet, Kericho, Nyamira, Kisii, Migori, Homabay, Kisumu and Siaya.
The Swedish Ambassador to Kenya, Madam Caroline Vicini who was the Chief Guest during commissioning of the plant, said that the European Union (EU) has a stringent criteria on its importations especially on foodstuffs. “I am delighted that the Kakamega Fish Processing Plant meets the required standards of exports to the EU.”
The construction was supported by the National Government to a tune of Ksh60 million (EUR 468, 750), County Government of Kakamega at the cost of Ksh20 million (EUR 156, 250) and the DAS Kenya Group’s contribution of Ksh40 million (EUR 312, 500).
Funds from DAS Group, a fish processing Company were channeled towards upgrading the facility so as to make it meet all the requirements that qualified it to export fish to the much coveted European Union market.
The County Government of Kakamega will soon set up a fish feeds warehouse for production of fish feeds, in a bid to boost the capacity of fish production in the area.