Kakamega County Fish Processing Factory has been commissioned to market fish produced by local farmers locally and to European Union (EU) Countries.
In a colourful event held at the factory situated in Kakamega town, Governor Dr Wycliffe Oparanya said operationalisation of the factory will be a game changer in the fisheries sector adding that the plant has the capacity of processing 20 metric tons per day.
He said the County has 6,976 fish farmers with 9,988 fish ponds which can supply 1,798 metric tons of fish to the factory which translates to Ksh 539 million.
“My Government has invested Ksh 20 million in construction of a fish feed warehouse, access road and perimeter wall around this factory,” said Governor Oparanya.
He added; “Das Group who are running the factory on a Public Private Partnership basis has pumped Ksh 40 million in this project to ensure the factory meets all standards and requirements for export to EU Countries.”
He noted that the County Government is supporting fish farmers in the County through fish feeds subsidy programme where they get feeds at a half price.
The Governor said the factory will address the challenge of marketing that has been affecting fish farmers in the region and enable farmers earn more money.
He said four weeks ago the County was awarded a certificate for being the best Aquaculture County by the Aquaculture academy.
He attributed the success to hard work, dedication by County Fisheries Department officers and farmers.
He said: ” Kakamega is one of the counties with the highest potential for aquaculture in Kenya that is why my Government is diversifying into the enterprise to ensure farmers who have been struggling with sugarcane and maize farming due to poor yields earn more.”
Dr Oparanya said the factory had employed 93 people adding that its growth will see more locals securing employment.
He thanked the National Government for starting the project through the Economic Stimulus Programme to enhance the economic growth of the region.
Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Madam Caroline Vicini who was the Chief Guest revealed that the factory meets the standards to export fish to EU market.
“EU has stringent rules and regulations on food that is sold on its market but I am happy to note that this fish factory meets the standards to export fish to EU market,” said Madam Vicini.
She encouraged fish farmers in the County to supply their fish to the factory saying the demand for fish is high and it is one way of earning income.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Hon Eugene Wamalwa asked farmers to diversify in other farming practices apart from sugar cane and maize farming.
He pointed out that Sweden through EU had initiated various development projects in the Western region.
Kisii Governor H.E James Ongwae said as Governors from Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) will greatly benefit from the plant as they will ensure that farmers in their respective counties supply fish to the plant.
H.E Ongwae who is also LREB vice chairman noted that Governors from the region graced the occasion to learn so that they can promote fish farming in their counties.
CECM for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Cooperatives and Irrigation Madam Rachael Okumu said fish farmers had long waited for the operationalization of the plant, one of its kind in the region, saying it will turn around their fortunes.
The Governor later led the guests to visit one of the fish farms in the County at Eshisiru in Lurambi Sub County.
Governors; H.E Prof Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu), H.E Dr Wilbur Ottichilo (Vihiga), H.E Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and H.E Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Deputy Governor H.E Prof Philip Kutima and his Siaya counterpart, CECMs led by Madam Okumu, County Secretary and Head of Public Service Madam Jacinta Aluoch, Chief Officers led by Mr Jeremiah Namunyu (Agriculture), senior officers from both National and County Government were present.