Why fishers of Lake Victoria look to the future with hope
Fishers in Lake Victoria are a happy lot and look to the future with the hope following the completion of modern boat landing sites and cold storage facilities in Luanda Kotieno and Sori beach at a cost of Sh280 million. Completion of the two projects-Lwanda Kotieno (Siaya) and Sori (Migori) are expected to improve the livelihoods of thousands of fisher-folks who depend on the fish trade.
Thousands of families directly or indirectly derive their livelihoods from fish farming on the shores of Lake Victoria, which is the second largest tropical water body in the world.
For over 20 years they have been losing a lot of fish products due to the lack of a cold storage facility in the fish landing sites.
Janet Atieno, 43 and John Amollo, 65, from Luanda beach, recall that fishing and, preserving their surplus catch has been a huge challenge for most fishermen on the shores of Lake Victoria.
But now, they have a reason to smile, thanks to the government’s construction of a Sh280 million fish landing site, with cold storage facilities, Banda and a mini processing plant.
Luanda Kotieno fishing landing site cost Sh140 million, while Sori beach landing site, cold storage and mini processing plant will cost a similar amount.
“Were expected to make up to Sh5,200 a day, we sometimes ended with only Sh2,500 or 3,200, yet we have to carry on without stop, says Atieno. But she is not alone. Many share her views. The lack of market for fish and the high cost of production coupled with poor storage facilities have discouraged many potential Kenyans from embracing aquaculture farming. Amollo who has invested in aquaculture hopes to construct a modern hatchery in the coming days so as to enhance his fish trade venture as he targets to reap big from the sale of fingerlings.
The fishermen said they wasted a lot of fish or threw away stale fish worth millions of shillings, as they piled pressure on the government to build them a cold storage plant. They are now pleased, at last, that the State has heeded their call. “We are now happy,’’ Amollo says. State Department for fisheries, aquaculture and blue economy Francis Owino has inspected the completed construction ahead of the official launch.
He termed the move as a milestone in the fishing sector Owino aimed at boosting fish production, reducing wastage and boosting fish supplies and circulation of money in the domestic economy. “This is the first ever fish processing plant which will handle surplus production, especially tilapia, Nile perch and other big fish species,” noted the PS.
The fishing industry in Nyanza has greatly grown over the last few years, with more investments going into fish caging in Lake victoria to complement local fish harvests. It is estimated there are over 5,000 fishermen trading in fish and so the plant will offer a ready market for fishermen in the area and the entire Nyanza region.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, in whose constituency Luanda Kotieno beach project is domiciled, decried post-fish harvest losses in the past, describing them as massive. He also decried wastage due to the lack of cold storage facility. He said the back-flow of water from Lake Victoria had also been a huge challenge in fresh efforts to construct a fish landing site in the area.
In 2018, when the government injected Sh48 million to construct a fish banda at the beach, it was drowned in water.