Unorganized structures in the aquaculture sector in Kenya have resulted in an overreliance on rudimentary production and processing technologies, high wastage of harvested fish and underutilization of fish and by-products, mismatch in demand and supply and ever-increasing costs of production. Empirical data on social networks have revealed that women and youth are increasingly playing important roles in production and productivity at the farm level, household nutrition decisions, access to an external resource and its management, management of household income, workload division and control over their time. Women empowerment along agricultural value chains has been a key Sustainable Development Goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It is on this background that the study was conducted to generate empirical information on gender dimensions and how gender influences production, value addition and opportunities in the aquaculture sector. Data collected from 321 farmers, 66 traders and 82 consumers using a semi-structured questionnaire was triangulated with focus group discussion, key informant interviews and a review of policy documents in Kirinyaga, Busia, Kakamega and Migori counties. From the results, gender was seen to influence roles during production, processing and consumption. However, limited access to capital and financing, land, labor and information were seen to favor men and this negatively affected the uptake of modern production and processing technologies which were limited to gutting and descaling by 78% and deep-frying by 89% of the farmers and traders. Women were the main decision-makers on household consumption, but their low disposable income meant limited consumption of fish by the families. The study concludes that despite gender inclusion playing a crucial role in development, inequality in the aquaculture sector is responsible for the sluggish growth despite government investment in the sector.
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RUFORUM Working document series