Is Kenya ready to export farmed fish?

fish farming kenyaDefinitely, we have more than enough ponds and the fish species needed.

All the farmers need to do is raise and sustain their production.

The approval was given on July 30 last year, but it was published in the European Journal on August 1.

The fish breeds to be exported are tilapia and catfish.

To be listed for export, Kenya prepared and submitted a national residue monitoring plan for approval.

This was approved after we responded to issues raised with regard to competency of testing laboratories.

What are some of the sanitary requirements farmers must observe?

The fish should be safe from contaminants like aflatoxin, pesticides, disease-causing organisms and additives.

These sanitary requirements are listed in the Fisheries (Safety of Fish, Fishery Products and Fish Feed) Regulations, 2007.

They cover Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Hygienic Practices.

In addition, one needs to develop a food management system based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)/ ISO 22000.

What is the standard size of fish one should export?
At least 250g and above.

Big fish can be processed and sold as fillets.

Prices mainly depend on demand and supply, but a kilo of fillet can fetch between Sh750-Sh790 in export market while locally it goes for about Sh450.

How will the EU market boost small-scale farmers?

The EU is a prime market for Kenya’s fish and its products.

The farmers will be able to earn more by getting better prices.

Besides, accessing the EU market will definitely pave way for much more opportunities internationally.

What should the small farmer do to export fish?
Working in groups or working with organisations such as Aquacultural Association of Kenya (AAK) is the way to go.

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A small-scale farmer may not be able to solely sustain the market, but would conveniently do so while operating under a group.

Besides, he must be conversant with the sanitary and technical requirements of international trade.

Where can farmers learn about the EU requirements?
It is easier, first form or join a group in your region and then the outfit should enlist as a member of AAK because farmers in this association are currently being trained.

Consult the Fisheries Directorate or department at the local level for further information.

How many tonnes of fish do farmers produce from fish ponds?
The government gave the sector a big boost through the Economic Stimulus Programme from 2009-2012 by constructing and stocking ponds.

Support has also been provided for provision of feed-making machines and production of high quality seeds.

These initiatives helped to spread fish farming in the country and consumption.

Aquaculture production amounted to 24,096 metric tonnes contributing 14.3 per cent of the total fish production in 2014.

Farmers earned Sh5.6 billion from aquaculture last year.

How much is expected to go to the EU?

Total exports of farmed fish to the EU will depend on fish production and demand.

But farmers should not be scared that they will lack market because there are already many opportunities even locally and regionally.

How much fish do we export currently?
We have been exporting mainly Nile perch and ornamental fish.

In 2014, which is the latest data, a total of 6,290 metric tonnes of fish and fishery products were exported, earning the country Sh2.5 billion in foreign exchange.

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Nile perch led in the type of fish exported, at 4,980 metric tonnes or 79.2 per cent of the total exports.

Netherlands had the lion’s share of Nile perch products’ exports at 1,593 metric tonnes, followed by Israel and United Arab Emirates.

The main markets for marine ornamental fish were the EU, USA, China and Japan.

What challenges do farmers face and how can they be overcome?

The first is the high cost of production due to costly feeds.

Poor quality feeds is also a big challenge but farmers are now learning how to process their own feeds to overcome the two problems.

The government has further provided feed-making facilities.

To tackle challenges related to sanitary requirements, the government is holding trainings targeting farmers in all counties.

By RACHEL KIBUI

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