As the Covid-19 outbreak threatens to decimate the Kenyan economy, one group of Kenyans has found cause to celebrate after their earnings actually went up owing to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The group consists of Kenyan fishermen who have had a bumper month following the decrease in imported Chinese fish into the country.
A report authored by Reuters on Monday, March 23 highlighted that fishermen were selling 90% of their catch, from the standard 50% that they would sell before.
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A kilo of Nile Perch previously retailing at Ksh250 was going for Ksh350 representing a 40% increase in the earnings of the fisherman.
Maurice Misodhi, a 38-year-old fisherman expressed the joy that he and other fishermen felt on account of the unexpected boom in business.
Having worked the lake for two decades, Misodhi stated that he had a great month in sales with customers eager for every fish he is able to catch.
“As fishermen, we can now smile, not because people are suffering from Coronavirus, but because we can now sell our fish, and at a good price,” Misodhi stated.
He attributed the change to the Chinese lockdown that had affected their ability to export goods such as fish into the country.
Mary Didi, a fish trader who had previously relied on Chinese suppliers states she has been pushed to buy from local fishermen.
"The supply at the Chinese importers has gone down, and many of my customers were also scared of the Chinese fish, thinking they would contract the virus. To keep the business running, I had to turn to fish from the lake," Didi stated.
Bob Otieno, the chairman of the Dunga Beach Management Unit where Misodhi is based, echoed the sentiments of the two, providing that sales had gone up.
As per his account, fishermen had previously been forced to eat, trade or ultimately give up more than half their catch as they competed with Chinese imports.
“We used to have many fishermen sell their catch at low prices because of competition from the Chinese fish,” Otieno stated.
According to the National Trade Centre, Kenya imported Ksh2.3 billion worth of frozen fish from China despite sustained complaints by fish farmers and fishermen that the cheap imports were killing local fish industry.Women dry the fish popularly known as 'omena' on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kisumu County on April 26, 2018.Daily Nation
Christine Adhiambo, the government’s assistant director of fisheries for the lake region, had however stated that the country was likely to face a fish shortage as the fate of Chinese imports remained uncertain.
“Kenya cannot satisfy its local fish demand. That is why we heavily rely on supplements from China," explained Adhiambo.
2019 government data shows 180,000 tonnes of fish were produced in Kenya against a national consumption of about 500,000 tonnes, with the deficit covered by Chinese imports.
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