Africa produces 9.9 million tonnes of fish a year and yet its share of global trade in this valuable commodity is just 4.9 per cent.
A new pan-African project has been launched to strengthen the continent’s great potential for increased trade in fish.
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Africa is endowed with plentiful fish resources in oceans, rivers, lakes, floodplains and fish farms accounts for just 4.9 per cent of global sector trade.
“More efficient trade could significantly improve income and nutrition for millions of Africans, particularly those 12.3 million that are directly employed in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors,” read a statement by Pan-Africa Project.
According to the organisation, trade was currently constrained by inadequate market and trade infrastructure and poor policy implementation.
“High transport costs, complex and unaligned trade rules and poor market information also prevent Africa from optimizing the social and economic benefits available,” added the organisation.
Stephen J Hall, director general of WorldFish said, Africa had the potential to develop its fishery sector and aquaculture to play a much greater role in promoting food security, providing livelihoods and supporting economic growth.
"Per capita consumption has fallen, despite Africa’s great abundance of aquatic resources. FishTrade will create the foundations for a more solid, productive and sustainable building-up of this great, continent-wide, resource," he said.
Hamady Diop, programme manager for fisheries and aquaculture at NEPAD added saying recent years have seen increased growth in aquaculture.
“FishTrade will provide the opportunity to learn from past successes and failures and governments will be given the right information to be able to create the incentives and infrastructure that investors need to meet local demand and penetrate higher value-added export markets.”
Steve Wathome, programme manager, Agriculture and Rural Development Delegation of the European Union to Kenya, European Commission said the EU is convinced that the FishTrade programme will significantly contribute towards the fisheries sector in Africa.
“Trade has been identified as one of the major challenges affecting growth of the fish sector in Africa, with challenges being notable with regard to intra-Africa trade and accessing global markets,” he said.
Ahmed El Sawalhy, director of AU-IBAR said trade plays a major role in the fishery industry as a creator of employment, food supplier, income generator, and contributor to economic growth and development in several African countries.
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“Domestic and intra-regional trade of fish (both marine and inland waters) is important with great potential for enhancing regional integration and food and nutrition security," he said.
“However, many AU member states still face several constraints in improving their fish trade and marketing sector. This project will enable alignment of policies at the continental level and open-up fish trade that we believe will have a strong effect on the alleviation of poverty in some of our poorest regions.”