China’s fish exports to Kenya hit the Sh1 billion mark for the first time last year, adding impetus to concerns that the Asian nation is flooding the local market with sea food to the detriment of local fishermen.
Kenya’s appetite for Chinese fish imports grew 60.2 per cent to Sh1.02 billion in 2015 compared to Sh624.1 million a year earlier, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
China deeply cut its fish imports from Kenya in the same period from Sh134.1 million to Sh94.5 million – representing a 29.5 per cent drop.
Fresh fish, chilled and frozen fish top the list of Chinese imports targeting Kenyan consumers, according to KNBS data.
Kenya also took in large amounts of smoked fish, dried and salted fish from the Asian country.
KNBS data indicates that the combination of local supply shortfalls and the surge in demand were the key drivers of the rising imports from low-cost markets such as China.
China mainly exports tilapia to Kenya, which is priced up to a fifth of locally produced fish, according to dealers.
One such dealer is Nairobi-based East African Sea Food Limited (EASF), whose manager Arnold Ganapathy acknowledged importing fish from China and promised to share the volume and value of the fish consignment ordered at any given time.
“We will find out from our officials in Mombasa before getting back to you,” said Mr Ganapathy on phone.
He had not responded by the time we went to press. Demand for fish, widely considered nutritious, has jumped in Kenya, outstripping supply.
Kenyans are on average consuming seven kilogrammes of fish per person yearly, up from two kilos in 2008, according to the Fisheries department, raising demand pressure amid dwindling supply.
Kenya’s fish production declined 14.3 per cent to 144,300 tonnes last year compared to 168,400 tonnes in 2014, KNBS data shows.
The biggest drop came from Lake Victoria – Kenya’s largest source of fish.
Credit: Business Daily