When Corona crises benefit fishermen in Kenya

Across Africa countries, the coronavirus epidemic is straining many sectors, leading to the shutdown of some companies and lockdown of many famous cities.

But not all industries suffer from it. In Kenya, sales of fresh fish in Dunga, a town on the shores of Lake Victoria, increased by about 40% in just two weeks, thanks to or due to the Coronavirus. Low quantities of frozen fish are now imported from China – the country where the epidemic started.

As a result, people express fears when it comes to buying products from China. These factors have increased customer demand for fresh fish from the lake. “In this region of Lake Victoria, the fishermen are pleased because they are receiving more customers,” says Maurice Misodhi, fisherman and manager at the Dunga Beach management unit.

He also explains that Dunga beach receives many residents of Kisumu located more than seven kilometers away. They come to buy fresh fish because they fear frozen fish from China because of the Coronavirus. Before the Coronavirus, local fishers struggled to sell their catch.

Fish from the lake costs about twice as much as fish from China. But according to Jackeline Nyaboro, a fish seller in Dunga, now customers are ready to buy the fish at any price, BBC Africa reported. “With the presence of the Coronavirus, sellers of fish imported from China are at a disadvantage. And I, who market fish from the lake, now have the advantage of selling fish at the price I want.”

In one of the local fish markets, some boxes of imported fish are still in stock. Kenya imported more than $23 million in frozen fish from China in 2018. Industry players around Africa’s largest lake have long complained that cheap imports are hurting local trade.

Chinese fish generally represented around 50% of the market, but this has declined since the onset of the coronavirus epidemic. However, the scarcity of Chinese fish is not good news for everyone. High local prices prevent some fish retailers like Caroline Ochieng from making a substantial profit.

“As a trader, the fish from China, we get it cheaply. But when it is lacking, we buy the fish from our lake, but it is very expensive,” she explains. Chinese fish have not been imported since November, and stocks are declining. There are concerns that local fishers will not be able to meet the new demand for fresh fish. But for now, they’re making the most of the boom in this business.

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