Exploring enabling factors for commercializing the aquaculture sector in Kenya

B. Obwanga, K. Soma, O. Ingasia Ayuya, E. Rurangwa, D. van Wonderen, G. Beekman, C. Kilelu

Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic


The aquaculture sector is expanding worldwide, driven by the blue economy and blue growth policy, based on principles of smartness, inclusiveness and sustainability, and the need to provide food and nutrition security to an ever-growing population. This trend is still at an early stage in Kenya. This report explores core enabling factors for commercialization of the aquaculture sector in Kenya, based on a structured household survey and a qualitative literature survey and through application of an analytical food system approach that includes the value chain and consumers. First, nine commercialization categories were identified: high, medium and low commercialization levels for each of cage, pond and tank aquaculture production systems. Second, an analytical farm household survey of 300 farmers was conducted in the counties of Kiambu (60), Kakamega (80), Siaya (80), Nyeri (45) and Kirinyaga (35) to analyse enabling factors in each of the nine commercialization categories. The enabling
factors explored are income (in Kenyan Shillings [KES]), fingerling production [numbers], fish feed (floating pellets [tons]), transport (% of farmers who have their own transport), market outlets (% per outlet category), share of fish meals consumed per household (%), risk taking/aversion (perception ranking) and trust in government (perception ranking). Third, a qualitative literature survey was conducted to review best practice in commercialization of the aquaculture sector in Kenya. The analyses show that enabling factors differ substantially across the nine categories. The main motivations of pond farming are to ensure food and
nutrition security; it is deemed successful when costs can be covered by generated income, even without further investments to commercialise. Pond farming is therefore the least commercialized segment of the aquaculture sector, although it has obtained the most subsidies in the past. Cage farming is expanding substantially in Lake Victoria, and regulations and planning to monitor environmental impacts are urgently needed. Given the high number of
new investors, cage farming is expected to contribute significantly to aquaculture supply in the future. Tank farming is a highly commercialized segment that depends on appropriate technology, which is expensive and accessible only to a few fish farmers. However, the efficiency in use of water, feed and land; the reduced risks of losses; and the possibly low distance to urban markets can make this segment a critical supplier of fish to a large consumer group in the future. Overall, it is advised that future investors in aquaculture in Kenya should be aware of the specific enabling factors of each category and should target the most critical enabling factors.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherCentre for Development Innovation
Number of pages54
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

Name3R Research report / Centre for Development Innovation
PublisherCentre for Development Innovation
No.3R Research report 011


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