At a fish sale zone in Kimironko Market in Kigali, a lady pays Rwf9,000 for a kilogramme of fried sardine fish locally commonly known as ‘sambaza’ despite frowning at the high price. “Rwf9,000 for a kilogramme of sardine fish is a high cost, but I manage to cover it because I want such fish for nutritious food,” said the lady who preferred to be only identified by her first name, Francine. “We need support to get the fish at a lower price,” she appealed. Indeed, a kilogramme of fried sardine is between Rw8,000 and Rwf9,000 at Kimironko Market; while that of fresh (raw) one is Rwf4,000. Fish dealers who talked to The New Times said that the price differences between the fried and fresh fish is associated with the former’s preparation process (value addition) and the resulting expense. Overall, they concurred with the fish producers that the rise in prices is also caused by production drop in Lake Kivu where they have usually been bred. “Around January 2020, we were buying fried sambaza at Rwf6,000 a kilogramme and selling it at Rwf7,000; but now, we buy it at Rwf7,000 and sell it at Rwf8,000. The fish produce is small, which leads to rising prices on the market,” said Scolastique Mukamusana, a fried sardine trader. Joyeuse Umwubahirizwa, a fresh fish dealer, said that before the Covid-19 pandemic (in January and February, 2020), “we were buying fresh sambaza at Rwf2,500 and selling it at Rwf3,000 a kilogramme. Currently, we buy it at Rwf3,500 and sell it at Rwf4,000.” Célestine Simparinka, Chairperson of UCOPEVEKA – a union of fish farmers’ cooperatives in Karongi District – told The New Times that a kilogramme of sardine was Rwf2,150 in October, but has increased to Rwf2,350 currently, explaining that the price is determined by the available produce, and the investments made to get it. He said that in October, they produced 26 tonnes and 630 kilogrammes of sardine. However, he voiced concern that they were expecting to get more produce than the current capture. Talking about the factors underlying the decline in fish production in Lake Kivu, he underscored that poaching through use of destructive snares is one of them. “Some fish mongers use mosquito nets and illicit snares that are harmful to fish reproduction. Mosquito nets capture fish larvae and eggs, yet it is estimated that a kilogramme of fish eggs could generate up to 10 tonnes of fish once they develop and are ready for harvest – after three months,” he said. Solange Uwituze, the Deputy Director General of Animal Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) told The new Times that based on expenses required to produce them, sambaza are not expensive at the landing sites (from fishers), rather the increase [in price] is being noticed through the trading value chain. To get one kilogramme of dried or fried sambaza, she indicated, it requires 3.5 kilogrammes of fresh ones. She said that the prices of sambaza to fish mongers in Rusizi (District) are between Rwf1,800-2,500; Rwf1,800-2,000 in Nyamasheke, Karongi and Rutsiro; while it is Rwf2,000-2,500 in Rubavu. For Rusizi and Rubavu districts, Uwituze said, the price is influenced by Bukavu and Goma cities, pointing out that it is normally driven by the demand and supply. “In the value chain of sambaza, from the landing site there are many actors, so we are planning to organise this value chain to make this product affordable for consumers,” she said. Currently, Uwituze said that the annual production of sambaza is around 19,000 tonnes. On strategies to increase sardine production, Uwituze reiterated that they have introduced them in other lakes such as Burera and Ruhondo, and imposed a two-month biological break (when fishing is prohibited – to encourage fish reproduction), and fight illegal fishing which destroys even their eggs.