By Cheki Abuje
Aquaculture industry players attending an SPS/TBT requirements training in Nakuru County have expressed their satisfaction by hailing European Union (EU) for its concerted effort to help the Kenyan fish farmer improve in on-farm fish farming through EU-Kenya Standards and Market Access Program (SMAP) partnerships.
The players who included Aquaculture Association of Kenya secretariat, AAK county Chairmen, Secretaries and Treasurers, Producers, Vendors and processors made the remarks during a three day workshop that also addressed among other things best practices, workers’ health, safety and relations in the fish export industry.
However, it was observed that Sanitary & Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers in Trade (TBT) are the major hurdles for Kenya’s on-farm fish to access the European Union market. Speaking during the workshop, Senior Assistant Director of Fisheries Daniel Mungai confirmed, saying the SPS and TBT requirements are crucial and challenged the industry movers to meet the EU requirements before the country starts exporting pond fish internationally.
Addressing the participants drawn from five Counties of Kajiado, Kakamega, Kisii, Nakuru and Kiambu, the experts said Kenya has a great potential in the fish industry for both local and international market. According to statistics from Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI), more than 48,000 metric tonnes of pond fish were harvested in 2013 with overall 23,501 metric tonnes of capture fish realized at the same period at a value of more than Kshs. 5billion.
Mary Opiyo, KEMFRI Scientist based at Sagana Fisheries station, allude that fish production in Kenya is not done to the full capacity. Said Mary “our farmers have not exploited the available opportunities for mass fish production due to current limited market. This is to avoid wastage that could result into losses”. She added that once Kenya signs an agreement with European Union to export fish, the production will be massive.
On-farm fish farming in Kenya is practiced at individual and cooperative levels with a minimum and maximum of 1-100 ponds ownership respectively. Reliable sources disclosed to Africa Science News that a fish farmer in Meru has 52 ponds, whereas Bidii self help Group in Luanda- Vihiga County is running several ponds at its disposal.
However, European and American markets regulatory requirements remain the biggest challenge the farmer, trader and exporter has to overcome. The players were nonetheless, upbeat to fulfilling the requirements of MRLs, saying the training has amply empowered them to overcome the challenge. “We have got it right, and we shall do it right” posed a farmer, referring to information they have received on SPS/TBT requirements in international Trade.
The sector drivers appreciated European Union, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) under Standards and Market Access Program (SMAP) in collaboration with AAK for facilitating the workshop. Lack of information and information access has been a stumbling block for Aquaculture farmers to expand the sector. Farmers can now acquire knowledge freely courtesy of European Union funding.
The jubilant participants exuded confidence in the growth of the Aquaculture farming in Kenya as a result of the trainings, adding that the workshops are timely as the Country is about to start exporting pond fish to European and American market. Kenya waits to sign export agreement with EU later this year.