An economic analysis of fresh-water fish marketing on the landing beaches of Lake Victoria (Kenya)
The understanding of the marketing problems of such an important fishery as Lake Victoria provides a framework within which the management, production and institutional roles can be handled. The efficient production offish as a source of proteins and a source of income as well as a means of earning foreign exchange is largely dependent on efficient distribution. Fishery research needs to ensure that information on economic, social, political and natural factors are well understood. This study aims at satisfying an economic information which is necessary for the development of a fishery. The formulation andiinterpretation of the functions used, the examination of other aspects of the fishery, and the derivation of policy implications are thus aimed at filling an important information gap. The understanding of the nature of the fishery resource and how the fishing indusfry as a whole functions is incomplete without determining the best means of influencing the system to attain the desired objectives. These objectives centre around man whose , welfare need be improved through proper utilisation and development of such natural resources. The results of this study indicate that fishermen's receipts from the sales of their catches are constrained by lack of preservation and transportation facilities for their highly perishable commodities. Seasonal anj/or bad roads inhibit the smooth flow of fish trade. Impassable roads, especially during the wet days militate against the freshfish trade. This increases the risk of fish spoilage leading to increased processing of fish. Processed fish is less renumerative than fresh fish. The fishing effort is therefore not well rewarded. Lack of preservation and transportation facilities furthermore, weaken the bargaining powers of fishermen vis-a-vis the fish mongers. The fishery, being multi-species, has experienced a major change in the composition of t0e landed catches over the years. These changes have important implications on the performance of the marketing system, and hence on incomes accruing to fishermen. The traditionally more preferred species have increasingly become scarce whereas an exotic fish, Lakes niloticus has become dominant. This fish is less .preferred by consumers within the Lake Basin who.form the major market for the Lake fish. Furthermore the fish is highly perishable and bulky. It is therefore expensive both to process and to transport. Co-operative societies in most developing nations are seen as important development tools with regard to the marketing of such commodities as fish. Fisheries co- operatives in Kenya;are relatively more successful in Turkana, Naivasha and Coast regions. There are many such societies along Lake Victoria and their involvement in marketing the fish is still small. Their weaknesses stem from small financial bases, and lack of proper management. These societies, however, seem to hold the key for the improvements necessary in the marketing system. Being accessible to loans and assistances in one form or another from various organizations, the societies need to provide some of the essential facilities and then engage in aggressive marketing of fish. Incentives, through better prices, need be given to the fishermen to induce their maximum participation as members.of the societies. The pooling of fishermen's resources through such co-operation is necessary for improved marketing and development of the fishery as a whole.