By Abel Muhatia @abelmuhatia
Agriculture Cabinet secretarty Felix koskei,on Monday 2nd March officially opened the Pan-Africa Project aimed at focusing on the potential of fish trade for increased nutrition and income at the African union Building based in Museum Hill.
The project,which is funded by the European union is intended to come up with new policies that would increase and open new market for the fish industry,reduce the transportation cost and strengthen regional collaboration.
“This project is to ensure that challenges facing the sub saharan Africa in fish trade,are tackled through enhancing market access” said Koskei in his speech during the the three day conference that started today.
Koskei also noted that Kenya is in the forefront in improving the fishing sector.He said the official control in production of fish from stakeholders is already in place.
“An international laboratory to deal with fish inspection is already under construction.Patrol Boats manned by armed security at Lake Victoria are operational and we are also awaiting the passing of a Fisheries development bill which is already tabled in parliament” added the soft spoken Agriculture secratry.
Soft and hard infrastructal issues,food security,trade barriers that include sanitary regulations and organisation of fishers are some of the issues to be discussed in the conference to improve the fishing sector.
Speaking during the event,principal secrertary for fisheries,Michemi Ntiba challenged Africans and especially kenyans to consume more fish inorder to increase the continents per capita consumption of fish which currently stands at a mean of 9.7 kilogrammes per year globally.
Ntiba said the process of organising fishers will help them understand the value of fishing management.Therefore,they will not view fish as any other product but as a global source of income.
World fish representative in the conference,Sloans Chimatiro,adviced agriculture ministers and stakeholders to be keen on an evidence generation process which will help in the reforms of the fishing sector.This will help them in a decision making process based on a concrete foundation.
Agriculture and Rural development delegation of the European union programe manager to kenya Steve Wathome ,said that a total of 5 million euros has been invested in the support of this project since it needs attention and responsible action.He expressed his faith that the programme will significantly contributes towards the fisheries sector as 10 million households rely on it as a direct source of income.
To solve the challenges noted down,New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) representative Hamady Diop articulated that Africa should grow agriculture products by six percent annually, and percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be subjected to the Agriculture industry.
The project implemented by Worldfish,NEPAD and the AU-IBAR has been launched to strengthen the continents great potential for increased trade in fish.