Kenya has lifted a ban on fish imports from China due to an increase in demand in the local market.
The move comes months after President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive to stop all fish imported from China noting that they were strangling the local market.
According to President Kenyatta, there was no need for more imports when the local suppliers could as well satisfy the demand, but as things have turned out, that is not the case.
The President’s sentiments came amidst public outcry over unregulated importation of fish from China with fishermen lamenting on how the foreign fish had flooded markets and called upon the government to intervene.
Kenya imports approximately 1.8 million kilograms of fish every month. The local market produces about 135,000 tonnes annual against an annual demand of 500,000 tonnes. Fish imports from China hit 1.7 billion shillings last year.
According to the latest data from the Department of Fisheries, Kenya spent a total of 1.7 billion shillings on imports of fish from China in 2018, an increase to 11.8 percent from 1.5 billion shillings spent in 2017. The country imported 22,362 tonnes of fish from China in 2018, an increase from 19,127 tonnes imported in 2017.
Industry numbers show that the value of these imports has been rising steadily in the past four years as the Chinese take advantage of their cheaper supplies to gain a foothold in the Kenyan market.
Kenya has recently turned to China to meet its fish consumption demand, which has seen its fish imports from the Asian nation double in the past two years to hit 2 billion shillings in 2017 from 1 billion in 2016.
According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Kenya spent $22.17 million on fish imports in the first 11 months of 2017. The Chinese imports, which stood at $6.24 million in 2015, came at a time when local production was falling over concerns about dwindling stocks.