August 23, 2005 (ENS): Africa must turn to
fish farming to maintain its supply of fish, leaders
from 26 African nations meeting here learned Monday.
A 32 percent increase of the African fish supply is
needed by 2020 just to keep consumption of the protein-rich
food at present levels, participants in the NEPAD Fish
for All Summit were told.
The three day Summit is a collaborative effort of the
Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD), chaired by Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo,
the WorldFish Center and the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Participants aim to chart a shared strategy for strengthening
fisheries development planning for Africa and increasing
investment in the sector to help eradicate hunger and
“African fisheries and aquaculture are at a turning
point,” says WorldFish Director-General Stephen
Hall. “There is a pressing need for strategic
investments to better natural fish stocks management,
develop aquaculture and enhance Africa’s fish
trade at every level. Regional and national research,
technology transfer and policy development also need
“An immediate investment of around $60 million
would kick-start a five-pronged strategy that can quickly
improve the contribution of fish to African food security,”
Aquaculture in Africa today is still a subsistence,
secondary or part time activity taking place on small
farms. Around the world, 30 percent of global fish supplies
come from aquaculture, but African aquaculture production
amounts to less than 0.2% of the world's total.
The WorldFish Center and its partners are making an
urgent appeal for help to boost the continent's fish
production through a five-point plan that is under consideration
at the Summit.
While developing aquaculture capacity, the plan would
support capture fisheries that will continue to provide
most of the fish for decades to come.
Central to the five-point plan is assistance to improve
fish market chains so they can avoid current post-harvest
losses to spoilage that now consume about one-third
of the catch.
Marketing and trade stimuli are needed to help the
fish trade grow, and decisionmakers need an information
system that supplies current information about changing
fish market structures, supplies and prices, the WorldFish
Addressing the opening session of the Technical Workshop
at the Summit Monday, Nigerian Agriculture and Rural
Development Minister Otunba Bamidele Dada said the Summit’s
targets include improved regional food security, sustainable
livelihood, management of natural fish stocks, and the
development of aquaculture production systems, as well
as enhanced fish marketing and trade.
The government is using the Summit to buttress its
employment generation and poverty alleviation programs
by creating awareness of how fisheries and aquaculture
could contribute to both food and livelihood security
for the poor, Otunba Dada said.
Dada announced that President Obasanjo has set up the
necessary machinery to harness the enormous potentials
and investment opportunities in the fishery subsector.
A presidential committee to develop a blueprint for
consideration on fisheries and aquaculture development
has already begun to work, he said.
In his brief remarks, the NEPAD Senior Agriculture
Adviser Professor Richard Mkandamire said that in the
countries that had developed aquaculture the program
had created jobs.
“For a relatively small investment, the international
community has an opportunity to bring about significant
improvement in the wellbeing and physical condition
of millions in Africa, Mkandamire said.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the only world region where fish
consumption is actually falling, according to WorldFish
Center Deputy Director-General Patrick Dugan. “The
main reason for this decline is the stagnation in capture
fish production combined with a fast-growing population,”
FAO Assistant Director-General for Fisheries Ichiro
Nomura says, "If we are going to meet the UN millennium
development goal of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty,
the contribution of fisheries and aquaculture needs
to go up significantly in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan
During the past 10 years, he said, Africa's fish production
has stalled and per capita fish supply has diminished,
dropping from 8.8 kg/per capita in 1990 to around 7.8
kg in 2001.
"Africa is the only continent where you see this
happening," Nomura said, "and the dilemma
it poses is that there are no affordable alternative
sources of protein. For a continent where food security
is so precarious, it's extremely worrying."
The WorldFish Center says small fish farms require
little financial investment, physical strength or education.
They offer a low-labor livelihood that can sustain both
the poor and the growing number of HIV and AIDS affected
households, especially those headed by widows and orphans.
“Small fish ponds are a valuable addition to
farms without substantially adding to the labor burden,”
says Daniel Jamu, the WorldFish Center’s program
director for southern Africa, adding that HIV and AIDS
affected families in Malawi, including many headed by
widows and orphans, have tried this approach with impressive
“Their nutrition has improved because they are
eating fish and they are using the income from selling
excess catch to obtain medical attention, including
HIV and AIDS care and medicines,” he says.
Called “rich food for poor people,” fish
contain combinations of proteins, vitamins and minerals
that help fortify people with HIV and AIDS against secondary
infections while increasing the effectiveness of retroviral
FAO's Nomura emphasized that the aim of the conference
is to draw the attention of African governments and
the international donor community to the need to invest
in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in Africa,
and to help countries in the region to start planning
together to strengthen fisheries and aquaculture.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All