By Hannington Odame

The unique value propositions of Model of Impressa Beach Management Unit (IBMU) is: ‘’We will offer safe and cold storage of fresh fish for fisher folks and traders, not just storage for dried fish”

Impressa Beach Management Unit (BMU) located at Kalokol village in Turkana Central in Turkana County was started in 2009. Its objectives are: 1) to strengthen the management of fish landing stations, fisheries resources and the aquatic environment; 2) to support the sustainable development of the fisheries sector; 3) to prevent and/or reduce conflicts in the fisheries sector; 4) to up lift living standard of fishing Community of IMPRESSA; 5) to ensure proper fish handling, hygiene and sanitation; and 6) attract investor/development partners interested in development activities within the BMU area of jurisdiction to consult the BMU’s office.

The BMU has dedicated leadership, with a focused chairman and secretary, who are able to identify and articulate issues to its members, County government, and development partners. The leadership of the BMU is elected by members of Impressa community comprising of 324 members, out of these, 184 are fishermen, 40 are boat builders, 60 are fish traders, and 40 are transporters. The 15 executive leadership members (comprising 12 males and 3 females) represent every sector of the fishing business (viz. fishing, transport, boat ownership, trade, other). Decision making is consultative and involves the wider community represented by the above executive members.

Our unique value proposition: ’We offer safe and cold storage of fresh fish for fisher folks and traders, not just storage for dried fish.” This will lead to the following benefits:

  • Increased volumes of fresh fish safely landed and marketed from the current 0.3 tons to 10 tons
  • Increased volumes of smoked, salted and dried fish from the current 2.7 tons to 10 tons.
  • Reduced post-harvest losses and waste from the current 35% to a much lower percentage.
  • Better pricing of fish.

The market of the fish from Lake Turkana can broadly be classified into two categories: Fresh fish and Dried fish. The customer segment for fresh fish are: Victoria Foods, Local retail traders, and Natogo Self Help Group. The customer segment for fried fish includes wholesale traders from DR Congo, Busia, Kisumu, Kitale. Customers from DRC account for 70 percent of dried fish sales while the rest account for only 30 percent. 

Impressa landing site in Kalokol on Lake Turkana presents itself as an area where fish traders (viz. Victoria Foods Integrated Plant, distributors such Natogo Self Help Group) come to buy fish from the fishermen. Nile Perch fish is mainly sold fresh to the end market while is Tilipia is sold fresh, stored in ice or split and dried. There is a big demand of dry tilapia from traders who come from central Africa. There is a huge demand for fresh Nile perch and also Tilipia from local traders and institutions). There is also potential on-line marketing of fresh fish. However, without refrigeration facilities and ice, the fish quickly gets spoilt.

Customer relations relates to maintaining existing customers and attracting new ones. To do so, we plan to get the right fish to market, at the right time and under good hygiene. This market fit will require market research to strengthen evidenced-based decisions to identify and match demand of new and existing customers; use of appropriate technology and innovation for sustainable fishing, hygiene and safe handling of fish, embracing social media to create demand for fresh fish among pastoralists as a new customer segment given the changing demographics (youth, urban population); and joining the Turkana County Chamber of Commerce to improve marketing skills and expand BMU’s markets through trade fairs and exhibitions.

Impressa BMU has the following key resources: social capital & intellectual property of 324 members with skills in fishing, boat making and navigation, net-making and repairing, fish handling and trading etc; capital investment in land, fence, buildings, office equipment, boats & engines, latrines, and financial resources with the bank savings of Kshs200,000 and potential earnings of Ksh200,000 per month from 4 boats & engines.

The following key activities are proposed to overcome weaknesses in the existing ones: Clean and safe handling of fresh fish at the landing sites to reduce sand; cold storage of fresh fish of 10 tons per day to reduce post-harvest losses & waste, storage of 10 tons of dried fish per day to increase prices of dried fish, and to improve data of fish landed and marketed fish.

Impressa BMU’s partners include: County and national government (permits and licenses); Banks & MFIs (loans, credit and financial services); National government agencies (roads, energy, water); LMS (capital investment); KEMFRI & WFP (capacity building in research and training); and traders (buying fish and supply fishing inputs etc).

The BMU will support the community through job creation for women and youth, increased volumes of fish marketed, and better pricing of fresh fish for various value chain actors namely, fishermen, boat owners, transporters, buyers, Victorian Foods etc). These will in turn result into improved food hygiene, incomes and livelihoods for the BMU members and the community.

Social costs include: Overfishing, Environmental pollution, and spread of communicable diseases. These can be mitigated by building capacity of BMU members to avoid the use of small nets to catch fish. The fisheries department usually enforces this by confiscating the small nets if found.  There is a plan to regularly train fishermen on sustainable fisheries and good fishing practices. This includes training fishermen on how to use pits for the bio degradable waste. The BMU will need to set up a collection point for plastic waste which can then be recycled or disposed of in a better way. The cleaning bay for the fish will need to be well constructed and fitted with clean running water and work tops that can be washed and maintained. The offal will be collected and buried in a pit to prevent spread of diseases.

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