What problem did it address, where?
In Ghana, smoking is the most widely-used method of preserving, processing and storing fish and is the most common activity for women in fishing communities. However, traditional ovens proved inefficient in capacity and fuel usage, causing poor-quality smoked fish and significant post-harvest losses. More fuel wood than necessary was used, contributing to forest depletion. Women suffered health risks from smoke inhalation, burns and exposure to raw heat. An improved fish smoking oven, developed by FAO and Ghana's Food Research Institute of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), was introduced in Ghana in 1969 where it quickly became popular: it is easy and safe to use, has a high processing capacity, uses little fuel wood, results in shorter smoking time and produces high-quality smoked fish.
The Chorkor was introduced in Ghana through training programmes and promoted by the participatory approach. In each community, ten women were chosen as processors and involved from the outset in the implementation process, which ensured its high acceptance and adoption rates in the country. They had to provide the required quantity of mud and water and participated in the construction of the oven base. One Chorkor oven was constructed for and owned by each of the ten processors. At least one mason and one carpenter were trained in each community to be responsible for the construction of additional ovens. As part of extension activities, presentations were made at workshops and seminars, a user's manual was produced in English and French, and a video cassette (with an explanation of construction and use) was prepared for fish smokers, extension agents and students.
Initially developed for Ghana, the Chorkor oven has been used in Cameroon, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia. It can be adapted for use wherever fish-smoking is part of post-harvest fisheries tradition.