International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Republic of Kenya, and the country’s aquaculture sector

In June 2018, IFAD announced that more than 35,000 rural households in Kenya would soon be eating better and earning more money thanks to a financial agreement signed by the Fund and the Republic of Kenya in support of the country’s aquaculture sector.  The agreement was to provide financial support to the Aquaculture Business Development Programme and related activities designed to promote fish production in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner in 15 target counties.

The total cost of the programme was reported as US$143.3 million, including a $40.0 million loan from IFAD. The programme was structured to be co-financed by the FAO of the United Nations ($400,000), the Government of Kenya ($31.4 million) and by the beneficiaries themselves ($43.6 million). The financing gap of $27.9 million will be covered from future IFAD financing rounds or by potential co-financing partners.

The financial agreement, signed in Rome by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, and Harriet M. Nduma, Charge d’affaires a.i. of the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, will go a long way to improving food security and reducing poverty in rural areas where 75 percent of Kenyans live.

The programme’s goals are to assist thousands of smallholder farmers in becoming profitable fish producers or village-level providers of support services within value chains in counties that already have aquaculture-related infrastructure, adequate water resources, marketing potential, and high poverty rates.

The proposed approach blends public- and private-sector investments in the aquaculture value chain with community-wide initiatives that promote good nutrition and food security through education and better access to affordable foods.

The new programme will pay special attention to women and youth. For example, while women are engaged in most areas of fish value chains, recent studies show that men receive a larger share of the benefits. Youth unemployment is also very high in rural areas and it’s hoped the new programme will slow outward migration.

Since 1979, IFAD has financed 18 rural development programmes and projects in Kenya at a total cost of $819.3 million, with an IFAD investment of $376.3 million. These projects have directly benefitted more than 4.3 million rural households.

Fifteen county governments have been challenged to invest in aquaculture and build internal markets for fish to sustain an eight-year aquaculture project funded by an international agency to the tune of Sh15 billion.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is funding the project which is being implemented in top aquaculture producing counties including Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, Embu, Isiolo, Laikipia, Kirinyaga and Nyeri. Each county has been allocated at least Sh1 billion.

Fisheries Principal Secretary Prof Micheni Ntiba said the project will face serious challenges without a reliable local market and urged the county governments to partner with the private sector in implementing the plan. The PS said an aquaculture project that started in 2009 collapsed, noting that the current initiative is meant to revive it.

Photography: Courtesy of USAID South Africa

Written by: Aquaculture Magazine Staff

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