By Cally Imbayi
Fish farmers in the Lake Region Economic Bloc(LREB) which include Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, Kisii, Bungoma, Busia, Bomet, Vihiga, Migori, Homabay, Trans-Nzoia, Nyamira,Kericho and Nandi will have ease in storing, processing and selling their fish as a fish processing plant is opened in Kakamega.
The Kakamega County Fish Processing Factory that was commissioned on 12th July 2021 by the Swedish Ambassador Her Excellency Caroline Vicini is set to market fish produced by local farmers locally and to European Union (EU) Countries.
The Swedish Envoy revealed that the factory meets the standards to export fish to the EU market.
“EU has stringent rules and regulations on food sold in its market, but I am happy to note that this fish factory meets the standards to export fish to the EU market,” said Madam Vicini.
She encouraged fish farmers in the County to supply their fish to the factory saying the demand for fish is high and it is one way of earning income.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said operationalization of the factory will be a game changer in the fisheries sector adding that the plant has the capacity of processing 20 metric tons per day.
He said the county has 6,976 fish farmers with 9,988 fish ponds which can supply 1,798 metric tons of fish to the factory. This translates to Ksh 539 million.
“My Government has invested Ksh 20 million in the construction of a fish feed warehouse, an access road and a perimeter wall around this factory,” said Governor Oparanya.
He added that, “Das Group who are running the factory on a Public Private Partnership basis has pumped Ksh 40 million in this project to ensure the factory meets all standards and requirements for export to EU Countries.”
Oparanya noted that the County Government is supporting fish farmers in the County through fish feeds subsidy program where they get feeds at a half price.
He also said the factory will address the challenge of marketing that has been affecting fish farmers in the region and enable farmers earn more money. During his speech, he revealed that his county had earlier on been awarded a certificate for being the best Aquaculture County by the Aquaculture academy.
He attributed the success to hard work, dedication by County Fisheries Department officers and farmers.
“Kakamega is one of the counties with the highest potential for aquaculture in Kenya that is why my Government is diversifying into the enterprise to ensure farmers who have been struggling with sugarcane and maize farming due to poor yields earn more,” he said,
Oparanya said the factory had employed 93 people adding that its growth will see more locals secure employment. He thanked the National Government for starting the project through the Economic Stimulus Program to enhance the economic growth of the region.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Hon Eugene Wamalwa asked farmers to diversify to other farming practices apart from sugar cane and maize farming pointing out that Sweden through EU had initiated various development projects in the Western region.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae said Governors from LREB will greatly benefit from the plant as they will ensure that farmers in their respective counties supply fish to the plant.
Ongwae who is also the LREB vice chairman noted that Governors from the region graced the occasion to learn so that they can promote fish farming in their counties.
County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Cooperatives and Irrigation Madam Rachael Okumu said fish farmers had waited for long for the operationalization of the plant since it would turn around their fortunes.
Governors Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Dr Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Deputy Governor Prof. Philip Kutima (Kakamega),Kakamega County Secretary and Head of Public Service Madam Jacinta Aluoch, Chief Officer Mr Jeremiah Namunyu (Agriculture) and senior officers from both National and County Government were present.