Potential for Women Fish Traders to Upgrade within the Fish Trade Value Chain: Evidence from Kenya
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Fishing is an important economic activity in Kenya which provides employment, income and food to a significant share of Kenyan population particularly the local community around Lake Victoria. Over the last decade the aggregate landings of fish from inland waters have increased tremendously within Lake Victoria contributing about 98% of production from Kenya’s inland lakes, and constitute about 93% of all fish landed in 2011. In spite of these enormous contributions, population round the Lake has remained relatively poor in economic terms. Moreover, gender and cultural barriers impede participation by women in some activities within the fish value chain. This paper investigates the location of women fish traders in the fish value chain and the rewards accruing to them. One of the major findings of this paper is that women traders in Lake Victoria are located in the lower nodes of the chain whose returns are low. In addition, women fish traders tend to operate in very micro-scale enterprises. Women fish traders are also challenged by cultural and gender constraints in terms of their potential to upgrade within the value chain. The paper recommends the need for affirmative action to empower women in the fish trade to upgrade. This can be achieved through tailor made training on business practices, assisting them to register as community based organization in order to link them with formal institutions; and finally to assist them acquire modernized technology that can help them grow.