Aquaculture: a promising solution for food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition in Kenya
Food insecurity remains one of the most visible dimensions of poverty. The increasing population amid competition for land and water resources means that the global demand for food will continue to increase. In Kenya, the food insecurity trend is worrying as the population is expected to hit 55 million by 2020 against an annually declining arable land per capita and consequent increase in food prices. The Kenyan agricultural sector has failed to either eliminate or reduce malnourishment for poor populations as the annual national production for both staple food and livestock products fall short of national consumption levels. The nutritional deficiency levels remain high among a significant segment of the Kenyan population. With increasing food production challenges such as dwindling capture fisheries and impacts of climate change becoming more eminent, solutions to food insecurity and malnutrition in Kenya must bring about quick results in food availability by stimulating more own-food production. Aquaculture has so far been recognized as an important opportunity to enhance household food security in developing countries. The existing literature reveals scattered but increasing evidence of the contribution of aquaculture to nutritional security through direct fish consumption and income stability among vulnerable groups through involvement in aquaculture value chain linkages. This paper reveals the status of food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition problems and discusses aquaculture initiatives as the remedial solutions. This paper also provides a framework for examining aquaculture’s value chain linkages to food and nutritional security and national economic growth by elucidating key pathways concerning the role of aquaculture in household food and income systems. The authors advocate for clear and sustainable national policies for aquaculture development to address food insecurity and poverty questions more sharply. More empirical evidence should be collected on the varied aquaculture opportunities to improve the income, employment and food consumption levels within the poor households.
Key words: KMFRI, MDGs, Aquaculture, Food insecurity, Poverty, Kenya, Malnutrition, Fish, Agriculture