Analyzing the role of subsidies in growing the Kenyan aquaculture sector
Food insecurity remains a critical issue across much of sub-Saharan Africa. In certain parts of the region, fish is sometimes the most accessible or affordable source of animal protein. Yet many wild fish stocks are threatened or in decline, and Africa is the only continent in which per capita fish supply is decreasing. To ward off future supply shortfalls, regional governments are investing in their aquaculture (fish farming) sectors using a variety of policy tools, including fish feed subsidies. This project studies (a) if subsidized feed affects farmer performance and (b) if subsidized feed crowds out private sector suppliers, thereby affecting the development of the entire supply chain. We explore this topic in Kenya, as the country instituted a feed subsidy in 2009 in order to provide aquaculture entrepreneurs with the financial cushion needed to enter (and remain in) the sector. Studying the efficacy of subsidies is of particular interest given (a) the level of public funding involved and (b) observed heterogeneity in usage of subsidized feed during a 2012 exploratory trip. To explore these questions, we will collect farm-level cross-sectional data, conduct interviews with private feed producers and perform feed quality analyses. The project is part of a larger study on the East African fisheries industry, which will also examine the land tenure dimensions involved in aquaculture development, as well as interactions between wild fisheries and aquaculture.