Conservation International’s Vital Signs program and the Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) have launched an initiative to develop Kenya’s first aquaculture data management platform to support growth, resilience and sustainability of the sub-sector. 

Funded by the Open Society Foundations, the online platform will host an array of integrated aquaculture data sourced from government, private sector, research institutions and other stakeholders. This is envisaged to boost decision making related to sub-sector planning, investments, regulation, governance and disease control, among others.

Currently, aquaculture data is inadequate, inaccessible and fragmentary, hampering the development of the sub-sector that has significant potential in enhancing food security, rural livelihoods and economic growth.

Data categories in the platform will include production, environment, economics, livelihoods and governance. Under production, data on capture species farmed, yield, disease prevalence, production systems etc, will be accessed, whereas information on water quality, ecological impacts etc. will be available under environment category.  Economics section will contain data on input costs, profitability, market share etc, while data on salaries and job creation will be captured under livelihoods segment.  Data on laws, policies, strategies etc. will be available under governance category.  

 The platform development was officially launched on 18th August, 2021, in a virtual event bringing together key aquaculture stakeholders, who will also be part of the platform development process. Initial discussions centered on data sharing, data gaps and platform design.  

“Our vision is to develop a useful and relevant data platform that enhances decision-making by sub-sector actors. Previously, we’ve built a similar decision-support platform for the Ministry of Environment that integrated data on wildlife, forestry, agriculture and socioeconomic development and other key indicators, ” said Conservation International’s Senior Director for Conservation Science in Africa Dr. Peter Alele, during the launch.

KMFRI Director General/CEO Prof. James Njiru said a data-driven aquaculture sub-sector can contribute to meeting Kenya’s growing fish deficit, as production in the capture fisheries declines or stagnates. He said that currently, aquaculture produces 30,000 metric tonnes (MT) of fish annually against the demand of 400,000 MT.

“Lack of aquaculture data and information sharing has become a barrier to realizing the immense potential of the sub-sector. The data management platform will help change this. It’s my hope that all stakeholders will work as a team to make the platform a success,” he said.

The Kenya Fisheries Service Aquaculture Director Dr. Simon Macharia said the government is investing in data collection technologies and personnel to improve data quality and integrity for the benefit of all aquaculture players.

Kisumu County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Gilchrist Okuom said the platform will be a “game changer” and expressed commitment by County Governments in scaling up data collection and sharing.

Conservation International Freshwater Director for Africa Leonard Akwany said availability of accurate aquaculture data through the platform will have multiple benefits to the sub-sector, including increasing access to finance, promoting a level playing field among operators, and reducing input costs.