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FAO and partners move to support African aquaculture. Aquaculture production in Africa has remained low despite the vast potential that exists on the continent.  On average, fish farming only registers 2 million tonnes annually which is barely 2.5 percent of the global production estimates. The per capita consumption of fish is just under half of the global figures. Boosting the untapped potential in the sector can thus significantly accelerate the achievement of zero hunger on the continent.

Aiming at advancing the aquaculture sector in Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) convened representatives from African nations and leading experts from different global and regional organizations to advocate for the integration of aquaculture in national and regional policies. The dialogue held in Addis Ababa from 3 to 5 December 2018, aimed at raising awareness among decision-makers about the significant contributions of aquaculture to food security and nutrition, and poverty eradication in Africa.

Opening the meeting, Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the AU and UNECA, observed that despite the significant contributions of the fisheries and aquaculture sector to food security and nutrition, its value is underestimated or unknown in many African countries.

“As a result of being underestimated, aquaculture sector is not fully integrated into agricultural and food security and nutrition policies, strategies, plans and programmes,” he said.  Phiri added that moving forward, “Improved, reliable and accessible information on the fisheries and aquaculture value chain can help raise awareness of the impact of the sector on Africa’s food security and nutrition and poverty eradication.”

In her keynote speech, Maria Grazia Quieti, Founding Director, Master in Food Studies Policies for Sustainable Production and Consumption, at the American University of Rome, emphasized the fact that the existing demand for fish will only be met when countries safeguard and develop their aquaculture resources.

“An adequate aquaculture policy, based on knowledge-based participatory analysis, using communication, networking and learning, is crucial for a meaningful transformation of the sector,” she noted.

Dialogues like this consultative meeting are helpful to guide the mainstreaming of aquaculture within policy frameworks in Africa and the inclusion of the sector into national budgets.

Moving forward, recommendations

The outcomes of the meeting indicate that increasing the visibility of fisheries and aquaculture will contribute to the formulation of more specific policies, strategies, and the allocation of funding for the promotion of the sector. Aquaculture development should be inclusive of innovations and improvement in production, investment, access to information, and good quality and affordable input such as seeds and feeds.

Moreover, the meeting agreed that small and medium aquaculture enterprises should be well supported to promote commercial aquaculture and to generate profit, which in turn helps to ensure sustainability.

Participants agreed that governments should support the private sector to enhance investment in the sector. Public-private partnerships in aquaculture development are deemed necessary to achieve the goal of the 2030 agenda of food security and nutrition.

Validating guiding document for policy integration

FAO and partners reviewed and validated the draft document “Assessment of the integration of Fisheries and Aquaculture into Policies for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation: Framework and Application in African Countries.” The assessment will help lead research in the Aquaculture policy field.

The meeting also recommended a follow-up validation meeting before the COFI-Aquaculture Committee in 2019, as the document, once finalized, will assist African countries and regional bodies to improve the integration of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors into national and regional policies for achieving food security and nutrition, poverty eradication, and gender mainstreaming.