A large program of road improvement has been incorporated in Kenya's 1965–1970 Development Plan. The implementation of this program will help to bring most lake areas into easy communication with the main centres of population. It can be anticipated that the use of motor transport will increase and that fresh fish, which brings a higher unit price than dried fish, will be more widely distributed than it is at present.
The attention of the planning authorities has not, however, been drawn to certain areas where road improvements are required to enable fisheries to develop fully. Some of these are now served by footpaths only or by inadequate tracks which are negotiable to 4-wheel drive vehicles, or only with great difficulty to 2-wheel drive vehicles.
It is recommended that consideration be given to improving the following important feeder roads to the lakes and the sea coast, as and when additional funds become available:
Lake Rudolf - 80-mile link from Loiyangalani to S. Horr to bring the southern area of the Lake into full production. This road will also serve to promote the tourist business.
Lake Baringo - Last 12 miles of road to Kampi ya Samaki requires improvement to meet requirements for all-weather traffic of 2-wheel drive vehicles. This road will also serve to promote the tourist business.
(i) Port Victoria - Existing roads to this port need resurfacing to avoid major structural damage to the sub-surface and to make them all-weather roads. The road banks are overgrown. One mile of new road contruction is required to provide a link to the Lake shore. There are 150 canoes here. At present, the catches, an estimated 1,000 tons per annum, have to be headloaded or transported by bicycle to the road head.
(ii) Sio Port - The road to this port is good, except for the last few hundred yards to the pier, which are deeply gulleyed and are nearly impassable to vehicles.
(iii) Kisumu - New road construction of approximately one mile, from the old B.O.A.C. hangars to the main fish landing for Kisumu, and a turning circle at the Lake. The present access track is deeply rutted and impassable during the rains. Fish has to be transported by bicycle or headload to the tarmac road which leads to the market. This adds to the costs of the operation and affects the quality of the fish which is not iced.
(iv) Homa Bay - This landing needs a 400-yard access road from the nearby main road. Homa Bay is an important port with catches of up to 5 tons of fish a day.
(i) Shimoni - The last 12 miles of the road from Mombasa require a murram or tarmac surface. The road has a deep, loose surface of sand, with rocky sections, and is difficult to negotiate by transport other than 4-wheel drive vehicles. The road serves a fishery with present landings of 250 tons a year, which has a good potential for future growth. The catch is sold in fresh or iced condition to Mombasa. The condition of the road adds to the costs of transport. There are also tourist interests at Shimoni - residential clubs and sport fishing facilities -which would tend to benefit from the road improvement program.
(ii) Watamu - This is a small landing, 20 miles south of Malindi, which sells fish to the Malindi auction market. The present 4-mile access from the main Malindi road to the shore is single-tracked and has an uneven sharp coral surface which tends to increase tyre wear. Resurfacing or maintenance is required to reduce transport costs.
(iii) Ngemeni - This is a fairly large fishing village north of Malindi which also has started to deliver to the Malindi auction market. The 6-mile road to the Malindi road is single-tracked, has several blind corners, and there have been several accidents necessitating the scrapping of vehicles. The road requires widening, some realignment and regular maintenance, especially now that Lamu fish is being landed here for onward despatch by lorry to Mombasa.
(iv) Toll Ferries and Bridges - The lines of communication from Malindi to the south of Mombasa are cut by a free ferry at Kilifi, operated by the Ministry of Works; private toll bridges at Nyali and Mtwapa, and a toll ferry at Likoni. The charges for a lorry making one or more return journeys in a day can be considerable and add to the cost of the sea fish delivered to Mombasa.
It is suggested that some system designed to reduce the charges to the fish transporters be instituted.
No standards have been laid down to date for the operation of fish processing factories in Kenya. Some of the ‘quick freezing’ operations the expert was able to see during his survey do not measure up to the Code of Practice laid down by the White Fish Authority of the United Kingdom.
There is no system of inspection, and no-one on the staff of the Fisheries Department is technically qualified to do quality control work. Similarly, no inspection of frozen and other fish products for export is carried out.
The need for expert advice on fish freezing and fish processing operations clearly became evident in the course of the present survey. There are already six fish freezing plants in Kenya and many cold stores. Exports of fish products to several countries have started.
The expert recommends that:
a good all-round fish processing expert, qualified in refrigeration engineering, be recruited at an early date to advise processors on their problems and, where necessary, to assist them with the planning and installation of fish processing equipment. The expert should also try to stimulate the use of ice for the transport of fresh fish, and better handling and display practices amongst retailers. Initially, he should also advise on quality standards for export products but, as exports increase, an additional man with specific experience in quality control operations should be recruited;
fish processors be advised to show on the labels of their frozen fillet packages the lake of origin of the product they contain. This is in their own interests, as fish from certain lakes has a poorer flavour than fish from others. Nile perch is an example; the quality of this fish varies considerably from lake to lake. The consumer likes to know what he is eating.
The Fisheries Department places much importance on the conduct of such a campaign in Nairobi and in the areas immediately to the north and to the south-east, where 3,000,000 non-fish eaters live. The present survey has confirmed the vital need for such a campaign to enlarge the market for Lake Rudolf fish and for sea fish. In the area where the Kikuyu, Embu, Meru and Wakamba tribes live, there are at present few fish eaters. The only people who are used to eating fish are those who live near the rivers. In the lower stretches, they eat Barbus, tilapia and other species; in the upper stretches, they have taken a liking to the rainbow trout introduced there and to the not so expensive, but also classed as luxury item, eel, which occurs naturally and which is particularly preferred in smoked form. The Kikuyu, who live in the vicinity of the Sagana Fish Farm, also eat fish and there are many hundreds of members of the other tribes who have been employed or educated elsewhere and have become accustomed to eating fish.
So far, the trade has failed to develop outlets in these areas. A survey showed that Nyeri (population 8,000 in the centre of an area with a population of 250,000) and Machakos District, which is in an area inhabited by over half a million people, had no fish on sale in their African markets. Thika, a fast growing industrial town of 14,000 people only 25 miles north of Nairobi, has only 4 dried fish sellers in its new market which was built at a cost of £17,000, and which has excellent facilities for fish selling. The failure of the dealers to go into these areas is attributable to the absence of a significant demand for fish. Small quantities of fish sold in the Fort Hall area by itinerant fishmongers have been readily accepted by the Kikuyu.
It is necessary to build up local demand by vigorous campaigns, pointing to the nutritional benefits of fish, teaching fish cookery, etc., and to follow the campaign up by making available supplies of fish, if necessary, initially at subsidized prices. The demand for tea and coffee in the area has been stimulated by similar campaigns started under the aegis of the leading local processors of these products. Initially, it would be best to concentrate on one or two areas, e.g., Thika and Machakos, which would be suitable for these purposes. The former has good market facilities, a large Kikuyu working population with good earning power, a vigorous Town Council employing a welfare staff, etc. Educational institutions also might give some help. At Machakos is the Israeli/Kenya Institute, where social welfare workers are trained, and where domestic science is taught and cookery demonstrations can be carried out. The World Health Organization has a nutritional survey team working in Kenya and is organizing pilot feeding schemes and a tie-in to the fish consumption campaign could easily be arranged. The Ministry of Education eagerly seeks to improve diets in the schools, and has already co-operated with the Fisheries Department on an ‘Eat More Fish’ poster campaign launched by the latter.
Sales of species which have hitherto been unpopular also require pushing. This is particularly the case with sea fish, only one or two of which are known by most Europeans and Asians, and none by the up-country African. This could be done by the publication of recipes and articles relating to various species of fish. Promotion should be stepped up, especially when the fish are in surplus supply and are bringing low prices on the coast.
It is recommended that Kenya seek the assistance for a two-year period of an FAO/TA expert to build up the present fish promotion campaign which is of modest proportion and to keep it going in the areas concerned. Similar campaigns have been successfully conducted in Central and South America.
The expert employed to assist in this field could also advise on package and label design with respect to frozen sea and lake products. The packages are frequently deficient in some respect. Since the products are sold and displayed in competition with imported, often more attractively presented, products, any improvement would tend to lead to an increase in sales.