KENYA – A team of researchers from a public university in Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), have bagged a Ksh.31m (US$267,000) grant from the European Union to implement a project entitled Upgrading of Silver Cyprinid.
The project aims to promote the economic value of silver cyprinid fish, locally known as Omena, through a two-pronged approach i.e., preventing post-harvest loss and promoting its consumption.
The silver cyprinid is a small freshwater fish with a silvery colour and luster that can grow to a maximum length of 9 cm.
Also known as the Lake Victoria sardine, it is widespread throughout the basin of Africa’s largest lake, both on the Kenyan shores and in Uganda and Tanzania.
To ensure success of the project, the researchers are set to collaborate with locals around the Lake Victoria beaches in order to create solutions that will be adopted and thus ensure sustainability.
The fish is a source of livelihood for more than two million people in terms of employment, income and provision of nutrition, ranking as the most important fish segment as it also makes up 72 per cent of the lake’s total landings.
Silver cyprinid fishery is valued at US$200 million against a total Lake Victoria fishery valued at US$600 million, reports KBC. It accounts for 35 per cent of the estimated per capita fish consumption in Kenya.
The market demands for the fish is also growing from Zambia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Malawi, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa for both human consumption and as raw material for production of animal feed.
A fun fact according to the reports is that silver cyprinids are the only indigenous fish species that have remained abundant in Lake Victoria after Nile perch and tilapia.
It reproduces throughout the year with two peaks, the first in August and the second in December-January.
Focus on silver cyprinid will pump life into the collapsing fishing industry in Kenya.
The East African nation produces 149 thousand metric tonnes of fish annually against a consumption of 450 thousand metric tonnes.
This according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics prompted the country to import fish worth Ksh 1.5 billion (US$12.95m) in 2020 to bridge the gap.
To boost productivity, Kenya and Hungary have partnered in a new Ksh 5 billion (US$43m) project that will embark on restocking the fresh water lake with Nile perch fingerlings.
The parties have started a Nile perch breeding project in Kisumu that will be used as a breeding site for the species to restock Lake Victoria.