Women and children sun-drying omena on nets at Lake Victoria’s seashore, Kenya.
Photo: K. Schütz


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It would be difficult to imagine the diet of the local consumers around Lake Victoria without the silver cyprinid. The small fresh water sardine also plays an important role in women’s participation in Kenya’s fishery sector. However, in spite of intensive efforts, there is still a long way to go before they have achieved an equal role in the value chain.

he small fresh water sardine-like silver cyprinid (Rastrineobola argentea) is traditionally one of the most important fishery species for the food security of the local population around Lake Victoria. Next to the imported Nile Perch (Lates niloticus), it has become the second most important commercial species. With a surface of 68,000 km2, Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa. It is bordered by three countries: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Even though Kenya only governs six per cent of the lake’s surface, local catches of the silver cyprinid, known locally as omena (dagaa in Tanzania, mukene in Uganda) accounted for more than half of Lake Victoria’s total fish landings (456,721 metric tons) in 2011.

The development of the sector

Supported by international investment, the export-oriented Nile perch fishery has constituted the highest landings in volume and become a major source of foreign revenue. This development has significantly changed the traditional multi-species into target species oriented fisheries.

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