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    Local fish labs to boost Kenya exports

    Kenya is set to increase its fish exports thanks to a partnership with the Spanish government to build a Sh1b fish quality lab, insulating the country from long waiting periods for fish quality tests, which are normally done outside the country.
    The lab, to be erected on a five-acre  piece of land in Nairobi, but with branches in Kisumu and Mombasa, will be operation  in the next 12-18 months and will have the capacity to serve over 1m metric tonnes of fish per year. Its impact will not only be felt in a reduction in waiting times but also enhance the quality of fish both for export and local consumption.
    Production capacity
    In August last year, the European Union lifted a ban it had imposed on fish especially from Lake Victoria, citing quality and health standards. The lake produces close to 111,868 tonnes per year, accounting for over 70 per cent of fish produced in the country. Other key sources of fish includes ponds with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes while Indian Ocean and Lake Turkana produce 8,000 and 6,000 tonnes annually, this according to a data by the ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries.
    Huge post harvest waste
    Kenya produced 193,000 metric tonnes of fish last year with a market value of Sh10b but could not export especially to the high demand market in Europe due to low quality standards. With little access to the export market and a low domestic demand considering decimal 3.7kg fish consumption per person every year in the country, most of fish produced go to waste, hence losses to farmers. The Fisheries Department estimates that at least a third of fish produced per year in the country go to waste
    Good prices
    The fish quality lab is however expected to increase fish quality testing efficiency, allowing farmers to export more to the now opened rich EU market, earning them double returns.
    A kilogram of fillet goes for at least Sh800 in the export market double the amount fish farmers are earning from the low demand domestic market.

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