Small Farmers Could Help Africa’s Fishing Crisis, Report Says

Small Farmers Could Help Africa’s Fishing Crisis, Report Says

With production lagging behind demand in Africa’s over-exploited marine fisheries, some governments are looking to small farmers to collectively develop fish farms.

Fish is a vital source of protein in Sub-Saharan Africa, providing an estimated 22 percent of protein intake, according to a report in The Guardian.

Aquaculture can fill the gap, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture and WorldFish Research organizations, the report says, but it will only work if there’s a paradigm shift away from old approaches which use farm ponds.

For real impact on overall fish production and access, they say, there needs to be a greater emphasis on smallholders joining forces and helping to develop a commercial fish farming sector. 

Historically, aquaculture development in Africa has operated through small on-farm ponds. This will continue to have a place but it isn’t meeting the overall supply gap, the report says.

Aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa is growing and showed seven-fold growth between from 2000 to 2010, much of it in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and Namibia.

“Smallholders are extremely important in Africa, but you have to operate on a certain scale in aquaculture,” said Rohana Subasinghe, senior aquaculture officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. “So smallholders will need to work together in clusters, so they can be more empowered and operate as a group with better market access.”