Contributed by Abebe Ameha, PhD
BENEFIT- ENTAG organized the Fifth Aquaculture Platform Meeting on the role of “Fish for Nutritional Security and Culinary Services” in Ethiopia. The platform meeting was held for half-day on 23rd November 2017 at Azzeman Hotel, Addis Ababa. The overall objective of the program was to promote the role of fish for nutritional security and as a business venture, and encourage fish quality standards as part of the aquaculture value chain in Ethiopia.
The general focus of the meeting was on addressing the various processes in the aquaculture value chain. Specifically, issues were revolving around the nutritional insecurity, preparation of fish food, supply and quality of fish products in Ethiopia.
The Guest of Honor, Mr Hussein Abegaz (Director for FRDD, MoLF) addressed the meeting in his opening speech, with emphasis given on the following message: “The potential for fish production from capture fisheries in Ethiopia is very limited as contrasted with the country’s ever-increasing human population and the high demand for fish. The per capita fish consumption in Ethiopia is less than 500 g. The government of Ethiopia and its partners are trying to develop the fish production and marketing sector through the GTP2. However, at all segments of the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, several challenges are hindering efficient implementation of development programs. Inputs for aquaculture (seed and feed), skilled manpower and financial requirements are the common constraints in the sub-sector. Nutritional requirements for children, women, the elderly and the work force of the country can in part be secured through sustainable aquaculture production systems. Fish culinary services have to develop as a new business venture with improved skills.” Mr Hussein wrapped his message by wishing fruitful deliberations during the panel discussion.
The key messages drawn from the meeting include the following.
- The National Nutrition Policy of Ethiopia by itself is a great achievement in terms of tackling malnutrition problems in many parts of the society. This and other policies alone can’t ensure the final targets of provision of proper nutritional requirements and generation of income. Fish production and post-harvest processes need significant support from the government and the private sector.
- Aquaculture development in Ethiopia requires special incentives from the government, for instance, in terms of tax exemption for imported fish feed. However, establishment of local fish feed processing industries as SMEs and large scale factories will be an ideal way out for this problem.
- Extension work in aquaculture development is currently not enough; this has to be strengthened to the extent where substantial impact can be seen.
- Fish culinary services at hotel and restaurants are regarded as one of the means to promote aquaculture development; in addition, new business opportunities are emerging as fish specialty restaurants.
- The challenges in developing Ethiopian aquaculture are complex and throughout the value chain. Extensive effort is needed to tackle each of the fish production, processing, storage, transport, and cooking activities through skill development and establishing model systems.
- The quantity, type (species) and quality of fish supplied to the end user is low. Nile tilapia and Nile perch are the most common fishes served in hotels and restaurants. More species of fish have to be produced in sufficient quantities and with acceptable quality standards. Fish cooking also has to follow appropriate procedures to maintain the nutritional content of the fish food.
The meeting addressed issues pertaining to aquaculture and fish marketing in the context of the National Nutrition Policy, food quality/standards control, demand/supply, and culinary services in Ethiopia. Oral talks were given by Dr Paulos Getachew, Assistant Professor at the Center for Food Science and Nutrition Research (Addis Ababa University) and Mr Fiseha Sisay, Executive Chef at the International Livestock Research Institute (Addis Ababa). Panel discussion was held with panelists from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Health Administration and Control Authority. Representatives of the Triangular Aquaculture Mission from FAO (Rome), China and the Netherlands addressed the meeting about their aspirations to involve in capacity building programs in Ethiopian aquaculture. Members of the Mission also indicated that they learnt a lot about the status and complex challenges in the aquaculture value chain.
A total of 51 participants attended the meeting, comprising of 19 from private companies, three from PSAs, 6 from government sector organizations, 6 from research and education institutions, 8 from non-government and international organizations, and 9 from ENTAG/BENEFIT.
For more information on BENEFIT-ENTAG 5th round platforms you can find the 5th platforms newsletter on the below link .