Kenya flags off 1st batch of anchovies destined for Chinese market

KWALE, Kenya, June 23 (Xinhua) -- The first consignment of anchovies destined for the Chinese market was flagged off on Friday in Kenya's coastal county of Kwale, injecting fresh vitality into the local blue economy.

Senior government officials, local administrators and fishermen graced the ceremony to officially dispatch the inaugural batch of anchovies to China, harvested from the Indian Ocean coastline.

Salim Mvurya, cabinet secretary for mining, blue economy and maritime affairs, said the export of anchovies to the Chinese market will unlock the fisheries sub-sector and create new jobs for coastal youth.

"Today is a historic moment," said Mvurya, adding that the blue economy will open new frontiers for Kenya-China cooperation.

Mvurya stressed that the government will seek new investors, and empower artisanal fishermen through training and provision of modern fishing gear in a bid to ensure that anchovies are harvested in a sustainable manner.

The export of anchovies sourced from the Kenyan coast to the Chinese market is anchored on a bilateral agreement signed by the two countries in January 2022 aimed at facilitating bilateral trade in avocado and aquatic products.

Huawen Food (Kenya) Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Limited, a Chinese company that has established a factory for processing, drying and packaging anchovies bought from local fishermen in Kwale County, handled the shipment of the small fish to the Asian nation.

The first batch of anchovies from the Kenyan coast is expected to be showcased at the third edition of the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo slated for June 29 to July 2 in Changsha, the capital of central China's Hunan Province.

Liu Zhiyong, executive director of Huawen Food Limited, said the company, which was built on a 25-acre piece of land in the middle of a serene village on the edge of Kwale County, has been licensed by China's customs authorities to export dried and frozen anchovies to the Asian nation.

According to Liu, the construction of the factory has enlarged revenue streams for local artisanal fishermen, created new jobs, and boosted the ongoing efforts to inject vibrancy into Kenya's fisheries sub-sector.

Fatuma Achani, Kwale County governor, said she looked forward to a harmonious working relationship with the Chinese company to enhance the growth of the blue economy which is the lifeblood of coastal communities.

On his part, Daniel Mungai, director general of Kenya Fisheries Service, said access to the Chinese market will boost the growth of the fisheries sub-sector, which contributes an estimated 0.5 percent to Kenya's gross domestic product.

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