ABUJA, Nigeria, 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
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 poverty.
“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 improvement.
“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,” said Hall.
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
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
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 Center says.
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
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 Africa."
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
“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,”
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 drugs.
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.
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