MIGORI (Xinhua) --
For the remote fishing communities living near
Lake Victoria in Western Kenya, capturing fish is one step but
selling it at a good price while fresh is the greatest
electricity is a major problem making it a dream for these
communities to own freezers to preserve their catches before
they reach the market.
To beat the odds,
some of the fisherfolk at Muhuru Bay in Migori County have found
a collective solution; investing in four ice fish boxes as a
group called Ngore Mtakatifu Women Group.
Each of the boxes
can hold 800 pieces of fish for three days which allows each of
the 35 members of the mixed-gender group to maintain the quality
of the fish and retain its market value.
“The fisherfolk are
often forced to sell off their fish at a throw away price just
to avoid making losses because fish gets spoilt quickly if not
preserved,” Lucas Odhiambo, the groups chairperson told Xinhua
“But the boxes are
helping a great deal. We can store enough fish and sell it at
once at a good profit,” he said.
traders take advantage of the fisherfolk when they know they are
short of alternatives.
“You will rather
sell a piece that costs 4 U.S. dollars for 2.5 dollars instead
of making a total loss,” he said.
options such as the ice fish boxes gives them not only an
upperhand to negotiate for better rates but also exploit
alternative markets within the country.
He said preserving
and marketing the fish collectively is cheaper and more
profitable than doing so individually.
Their market is
mainly at the capital city, Nairobi, which the chairman said is
consistent and reliable.
non-connection to the national grid disadvantages the remote
fishing communities for they are put off the system that would
power freezers to maintain the freshness of the fish.
“Fishing is our main
economic activity. That’s where we get money to educate our
children. It is therefore important that we get the necessary
support to boost our fishing activities,” he said.
But their livelihood
is also under threat due to overfishing resulting from an
increased number of fishers at the lake, he said.
Lake Victoria is a
shared resource among three East African countries-Kenya, Uganda
and Tanzania-and it is home to tilapia and Nile Perch, the fish
species which bring a source of living for at least 35 million
people from the three nations.
A 2012 study by
SmartFish, one of the largest regional programmes for fisheries
in Africa, implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC)
jointly with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO),
attributed unreported illegal and unregulated fishing on the
Lake Victoria waters in the three countries to the drop in the
Nile Perch stocks.
According to the
study, the total biomass of the Nile Perch declined to the
lowest recorded estimate of 298, 394 tonnes in 2008 from 1.4
million tonnes in 1999.
To counter the
falling stock of the fish species, Odhiambo said fishers have
adopted use of fish cages which are floated on the lake.
Each holds 2,000
pieces of tilapia and take eight months to mature.
really a threat to us and we are very concerned. It is
diminishing our livelihood and that is why we have embraced fish
cages. That is our way of cushioning ourselves from total lack
of fish to sell,” he said.
“There are many
people nowadays capturing fish in the Lake Victoria that
overfishing has become very common here and we don’t know what
will happen in the future,” he said.
On security of the
raised fish, Odhiambo said the area fishing community values
respect for fellow members’ property that nobody steals fish
from the cages.
Just like fish is a
cash crop for his community so is coffee for some in central
Kenya but in comparison, the latter have struggled with
protracted theft cases darkening their days of hardwork to earn
government hopes to have connected 70 percent of the Kenyan
population to electricity by end of 2017.
If extended to this
remote Muhuru Bay in the Lake Victoria environs, it is a
development that would save the fishing communities costs of
Low cost solar lamps boost fortunes of fishermen in Lake