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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Kenya: combating illegal fishing and bringing youth back to agriculture

Talks with FAO Director General

18 February 2016, Rome – An international agreement to combat illegal fishing which a growing number of countries are ratifying focused today’s meeting between FAO Director-General and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett, in Rome this week.

“We need to combat illegal fishing and ensure that, by ratifying the agreement, Kenya becomes part of the global movement against this burden,” Bett said in remarks after the encounter.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to strip between $10 billion and $23 billion from the global economy, and their impacts undermine the way fish stocks are managed to make it a double concern around the world.

To help tackle the problem, FAO brokered the adoption in 2009 by its Member countries of the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

Bringing youth back to agriculture

The FAO chief also applauded the Government’s adoption of the National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (NFNSP), and encouraged the Government to move forward for an implementation framework to ensure coordination, particularly between agricultural development and health, nutrition and social aspects.

Bett said FAO is a “major partner for Kenya”, which has helped the country combating animal diseases, developing policies and regulating frameworks, and rising its agricultural productivity.

“Agriculture is the most important sector, which the government is using to rise the livelihoods of people,” he added noting that 80% of the country’s population still lives in rural areas.  

“We realized that the average age of people in agriculture is 62 years old, so we are bringing in the youth to agriculture, because we want to make agriculture sustainable. We need to improve the practices through mechanization and employment of technology, and making it “cool” so that young people want to come”.

Bett added that Kenya is also doing an effort to developing more aquaculture and encouraging our population to develop more farmed fishing.

He explained how the country is innovating by harvesting seaweed, “a new export opportunity for Kenya, as we are harvesting it and exporting it to the world,” he said.

FAO Director-General invited the Minister to attend the FAO Regional Conference for Africa to be held in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire (4 to 8 April).