Kenyas Diverging Aquacultural Sector: A study on small-scale fish farmers struggels and upgrading oppetunities and how these can impact food security

Rasmus Bentzen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Hunger is still a major concern in Kenya with roughly 11.1M Kenyans suffering from hunger in 2014. A potential sector that could help solve part of this issue has been identified as the aquaculture sector. With the use of Neilson & Pritchard’s Global Value Chain framework together with a philosophical viewpoint of critical realism an in-­‐depth understanding of Kenya’s aquaculture sector have therefore been sought throughout this thesis with specific focus on the struggles currently facing small-­‐scale fish farmers. These findings were used to explore different paths for the Kenyan aquaculture sector with inspiration from Petersen & Plenborg’s concept of value drivers. The different aquaculture scenarios each leading to a distinctive forecast of output were further used to estimate each paths potential impact on food security in Kenya. Here two methods were used; the estimation of self-­‐sustaining households together with FAO’s Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) ratio, which required the application of various statistical methods. Fish farming was found to be an important way to help improve the livelihoods for small-­‐scale farmers and their families in Kenya. Various struggles were however still experienced especially in regard to acquiring high quality fish inputs while achieving optimal knowledge on best practice farming techniques further proved difficult. The result of these struggles was illustrated when comparing the yields and feed conversion rates to various other countries where the Kenyan farmers could be seen to be substantially behind countries like China and Vietnam. These two countries’ export to Kenya further resulted in the Kenyan small-­‐scale fish farmers being excluded from all high-­‐end markets. For Kenyan small-­‐scale fish farmers to overcome these various struggles all the findings pointed towards the Kenyan government’s necessary role in creating an enabling environment so farmers could reach new upgrades. Enforcement of new quality standards for fish inputs, a revival of the farmer groups feed mills and hatcheries together with increased best practice knowledge being distributed was therefore found to be needed in order for fish farmers to reach new upgrades. These potential upgrades would in turn enable fish farmers to increase their Gross Profit seven fold. Various indications unfortunately pointed to a bleak outlook for the government’s future support of the aquaculture sector especially driven by a divergence among the 47 counties since the devolution took place in 2012. The development path Kenya has been perceived most likely to follow were therefore the scenario Status Quo, which would mean a decrease in aquaculture output from today’s levels. The potential impact this chosen path would have on food security measured as the PoU was estimated to roughly 213,000 more Kenyans that would be suffering from chronic hunger in 10 years time relative to the Optimal scenario. A larger impact on food security was seen from the estimated number of self-­‐sustaining Kenyans with the figure being 0.17M people by 2024 for Status Quo (lower than today) relative to 1.3M in the Optimal case.

EducationsMSc in Applied Economics and Finance, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages158