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1.1 Nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish
1.2 Characteristics of consumption in the region
1.3 Annual consumption of fish and shellfish
1.4 Gross market data
1.5 Specific market data
1.6 Information for the trade
1.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector

1.1 Nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish

First and foremost, increasing the per caput consumption of fish and shellfish in any country benefits health. Aquatic animals contain a high level of protein (17-20%) with an amino acid profile similar to that of the meat of land animals. The flesh of fish is also readily digestible and immediately utilizable by the human body which makes it suitable for complementing the high carbohydrate diets prevailing in almost all the countries of the region under survey. Compared with land animals (with some exceptions, such as shellfish), aquatic animals have a high percentage of edible flesh, and there is little wastage.

Aquatic animals are a source of minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorus as well as trace elements and vitamins. Marine species are particularly rich in iodine. The fatty-acid content is high in polyunsaturates and particularly those which are attributed to reduce blood cholesterol. There are also some indications that certain fatty acids in fish may provide protection against renal disease.

On a unit weight basis, fish is relatively expensive compared with the local prices of vegetables and grains, but it is frequently less costly than alternative animal protein sources. Where and when fish and other aquatic products are available they are the major animal protein source for the rural poor.

1.2 Characteristics of consumption in the region

Fish constitutes an important nutritional component in the diets of the people of almost all the countries of the region as described. Fish properly preserved, prepared, and presented in the right form is popular in most households. The appeal of an otherwise tasteless diet is greatly improved, and much use is made of fish and shellfish as soups and condiments, especially when smoked or dried. Almost all types and sizes of fish are highly acceptable to poor families and, when eaten with cereals or tubers, form the basis of their diet. Among some religious groups, such as the Coptic orthodox church in Ethiopia, fish plays an important role in fasting days when the eating of meat products is forbidden.

In a survey of 27 countries in Africa (numbering 470 million people) active in aquaculture activities in 1980 the average annual fish consumption was 10.5 kg per caput. Typical of all low-income countries, the consumption ratio of fish to meat was high, ranging from 0.2 to 2.9; European and Latin American countries, by contrast, ranged from 0.2 to 1.4. Recorded fish production, however, only contributed 0.3% to the annual consumption, compared with Asia (14.2%), Europe (8.7%), North America (4.7%), and Latin America (2.1%). Africa as a whole is a net importer of fish and, with the increasing population rate, national production is forecast to increase.

Based on further analysis of the aquaculture data available for all regions in 1980, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and others concluded that most aquaculture developed countries have a per caput fish catch which exceeds (sometimes even by far) the per caput fish consumption. On a world-wide basis the fish to meat consumption ratio is high in low-income countries and low in high-income countries (with the exception of Japan). Despite this, however, fish consumption in general is a function of income, and both in Asia and Latin America fish farming is correlated with fish consumption.

FAO went on to speculate that there would be an autonomous growth of the aquaculture industry when the threshold production is exceeded. In the case of fish, this is 50-100 g per caput per annum. Applying this somewhat inexact but useful indicator to the most recent set of aquaculture production statistics for Africa, the following countries (from a total of 52 which responded to the aquaculture production survey) have attained the threshold of 50-100 g per caput per annum, and are therefore functioning actively in the sector: Zambia (147 g). Central African Republic, (129 g), Congo (112 g), Zimbabwe (99 g), Ghana (57 g), Kenya (55 g), Mauritius (51 g), and Nigeria (50 g). Countries just below the threshold are Côte d'Ivoire (38 g), Gabon (28 g), Cameroon (22 g), and Togo (21 g).

Of the five North African countries included in the responses, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, only Egypt (1 042 g) and Tunisia (171 g) have attained the threshold. However, North African countries are not included in this regional survey as their aquaculture resources and activities are more related to those of other countries in the Mediterranean. Predominantly they only participate in programmes in that region, and their data are included in the Regional Survey of the Mediterranean.

1.3 Annual consumption of fish and shellfish

Total fish and fisheries products available to the population (427 million) of the 48 countries of the region as described was 3 590 543 tonnes (t) in 1984 (see Table 1). The per caput consumption was 8.41 kg.

Capture fisheries contributed about 71% to the total fish intake in the region but the contribution from aquaculture, according to the figures provided, was insignificant. In 1985, the year when more or less complete information on aquaculture production was obtained by FAO from 31 countries in the region, recorded production represented only 0.3% of the total fish catch. Its contribution to fish consumption would, however, have been much lower than 0.3% (Table 2).

Africa is a net importer of fish. In 1984 the region imported 1 056 041 t of fish, or 29% of its fish intake. The major fish importers in absolute terms (kg/caput of imported fish) were: Congo (22 kg). Côte d'Ivoire (13 kg), Liberia (9 kg) and Gabon (7 kg).

Within the region only six countries, namely Seychelles (47.5 kg), Sao Tomé-et-Principe (37.6 kg), Congo (33.4 kg), Gabon (24.3 kg), Senegal (22.6 kg) and Reunion (22.6 kg), which represent less than 2.5% of the region's population, had a per caput yearly consumption of more than 20 kg.

Twenty-four countries (31% of the population), consumed less than 5 kg/caput/y. The countries with the least consumption included: Ethiopia (0.1 kg), Swaziland (0.1 kg), Rwanda (0.2 kg), Niger (0.9 kg), Sudan (1.4 kg), and Burkina Faso (1.5 kg). No information was available for two countries: St. Helena and Djibouti. The remaining sixteen countries were moderate consumers of 5 to 20 kg/caput/y.

In some countries, such as Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Madagascar, and Nigeria, there are also differences in consumption between coastal/riverine and water "deprived" populations, and between urban and rural inhabitants. In either case the coastal/riverine and urban populations consume more fish.

From data of the FAO Food Balance Sheets for 1984 (Table 1), the cumulated meat plus fish per caput yearly consumption ranged from 5.16 to 74.32 kg. Fish represented about 40% of the cumulated intake. However, there were wide variations between countries, ranging from 0.77% for Ethiopia to 83% for Sao Tomé-et-Principe. Furthermore, certain low fish consuming countries compensated the "shortfall" in fish by consuming more meat. This is the case for Somalia 41.94 kg meat (2.0 kg fish), Botswana 24.99 kg meat (2.5 kg fish), Sudan 24.27 kg meat (1.4 kg fish), CAR 22.31 kg meat (5.3 kg fish), and Madagascar 14.2 kg meat (5.8 kg fish).

1.4 Gross market data

Data from the World Bank Atlas, 1987 (Table 3) indicated that the 48 countries in the region had a total population of 453 648 000 in 1985. About 21% of this population was concentrated in Nigeria (99 669 000). Five other countries had populations ranging from 20 to 43 million, which represented about 31% of the region's total population. These countries were: Ethiopia (42 169 000), South Africa (32 432 000), Zaïre (30 557 000), Tanzania (22 243 000), and Sudan (21 931 000). The population in nine countries, namely Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique was between 10 and 20 million, while that in 35 countries was less than 10 million. Data were not available for St. Helena, and Djibouti.

A characteristic of the region is the high population growth rates of 1.1-4.3% between 1973 and 1985.

In 1985, the Gross National Product (GNP) per caput in the region ranged from US$ 110 for Ethiopia to US$ 3 340 for Gabon. The GNP per caput (with % real growth for 1973-85) for 9 countries in the region with more than US$ 500 was Gabon US$ 340 (-0.6), South Africa US$ 2 010 (0.0), Mauritius US$ 1 070 (1.8), Congo US$ 1 050 (4.5), Botswana US$ 840 (6.4), Cameroon US$ 810 (3.8), Nigeria US$ 760 (-2.5). Zimbabwe US$ 650 (0.0), and Côte d'Ivoire US$ 630 (1.1). Eleven countries, namely Lesotho, Cape Verde, Liberia, Mauritania, Zambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Sudan, Guinea, and Sao Tomé-et-Principe. had GNP per caput of between US$ 300-US$ 600. Twelve other countries, namely Kenya, Rwanda, Comoros, Benin, CAR, Tanzania, Somalia, Madagascar, Togo, Burundi, Gambia, and Niger, had GNP per caput of US$ 200-300; the remaining eight countries ranged between US$ 110-170. Data were not available for 8 countries in the region, namely Angola, Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Seychelles, St. Helena, and Uganda.

Between 1973-85, 18 (37.5%) countries had a negative percent real growth, ranging from -0.2 for Sierra Leone to -3.8% for Zaïre. Real growth rate greater than 3% was obtained by only 5 countries, namely Botswana (6.4), Cape Verde (4.9), Lesotho (4.6), Congo (4.5), and Cameroon (3.8). The remaining 25 countries experienced either no growth, as in South Africa, or only moderate growth, ranging from 0.3% for Kenya to 2.0% for Rwanda.

1.5 Specific market data

Well-established marketing systems and distribution channels, dominated by "fish mammies" in West and Central Africa and by middlemen in East Africa, exist for the products of capture fisheries. The volume of aquaculture products in the region is small and almost all production, particularly fish, is sold fresh, either whole or in the round. Frequently it is sold alive on the pond side or in village markets, and therefore the total volume of aquaculture products is not recorded, or easily estimated.

In some cases, as in Ghana, fish producers select larger pieces for smoking or drying to add value to the products, but on the whole post-harvest handling and packaging practices are limited to molluscs and crustaceans, particularly in Kenya, Mauritius, Reunion, and South Africa.

Few distribution channels have evolved for aquaculture products in the region. In Côte d'Ivoire production from brackishwater net pens and cages is harvested and sold in Abidjan markets weekly. In Zambia production from corporate farms is given to estate employees, and the corresponding value is deducted from their wages. In Nigeria harvests from the Rock Water fish farm near Jos are sold in local hotels in the northern states of the country, and in Kenya production from Baobab farm (tilapia) near Mombasa and from Ngomeni shrimp farm are sold in local hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa. Production from trout farms in Kenya and Madagascar is sold to local tourist hotels.

Tilapias are the most popular species, although this may be because they are also the most readily available. In popularity they are closely followed by the various catfish species, and then the carps. Carps have low preference among ethnic and religious groups who do not accept pork. Other species, such as trout, and all the crustaceans and molluscs, are high-value "class" products which are usually sold on export markets or to the small exclusive markets associated with local tourism.

In general there is a strong preference for cultured products in the national markets over those from capture fisheries. In particular cultured products have a high priority among inland populations not accustomed to marine products; for example, among certain populations in CAR, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, given capture fisheries and aquaculture products of similar size, the preferences are for cultured fish.

Among consumers in certain countries there is a common complaint, justified or not, that fish from some lakes are seasonally prone to off-flavours. This is often evident in Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire, for example, by the scramble for cultured tilapia, given the equivalent price, despite its smaller size compared with tilapia from nearby Kossou Lake.

Fish pricing traditionally is guided by bargaining. The final price depends on many factors, such as the quantity available, the season of the year (with respect to the intensity of capture fisheries activities), the size and type of fish, and the quality, but it often includes the economic status of the buyer in terms of appearance and dress. Within this milieu of factors prices of fish are highly variable, not only within a country but also between countries. In general, fish farmers have taken advantage of those factors which influence pricing, particularly the freshness of their products and/or the fact that they can sell live products which command fairly good prices.

Aquaculture products are invariably sold either by numbers, often in heaps, or by weight. In general prices of aquaculture products are comparable to those of products from capture fisheries, and they have been increasing over the last decade. It is difficult to provide meaningful average prices for aquaculture products in the region. However, as an example, indicative prices per kg of product obtained in Côte d'Ivoire for fish products and protein-related products were as follows: tilapias (lake and cultured fish) - CFA.F. 500-600; Clarias spp. (freshwater) CFA.F. 600-700; tilapias (brackishwater culture) CFA.F. 600-800; and Chrysichthys spp. CFA.F. 900-1 200. By comparison, small frozen pelagics CFA.F. 400-550; other frozen fish CFA.F. 600-800; smoked/dried fish (CFA.F. 1 000-1 300); pork CFA.F. 1 000; beef CFA.F. 900; mutton CFA.F. 1 100, and poultry CFA.F. 850-1 000. In 1985 tilapias sold at CFA.F. 400-500/kg. The conversion rate of exchange was CFA.F. 450 and CFA.F. 280 to US$1.00 in 1985 and 1988, respectively.

Exports from the countries of the region are limited to crustaceans and molluscs. In 1985, about 40 t of freshwater prawns were produced from Malawi, Mauritius, Reunion, and Zimbabwe. In addition, there were about 35 t of marine shrimps from Kenya, 100 t of turtles from Réunion, and 2 t of oysters from Madagascar. Most of this production was exported. In the same year, South Africa and Mauritius produced about 200 t of molluscs (oysters and mussels), but the quantities exported are not known.

1.6 Information for the trade

The principal marketing information service in the region is INFOPECHE, although it does not differentiate aquaculture products as yet. INFOPECHE assists the fishing industry and governments in the region by establishing contacts between buyers and sellers of fish products, and providing technical information and advice on post-harvest aspects of fisheries, such as handling, processing, equipment selection, and quality assurance. INFOPECHE is based in Côte d'Ivoire and its working languages are French and English.

INFOPECHE is one of four regional services which, in addition to Africa, include a region of Arab countries, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America. This network of services produces a fortnightly news bulletin, called Trade News, in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. This deals with prices, cold storage holdings, short-term market trends, and business opportunities. The network also publishes a two-monthly magazine called INFOFISH International (incorporating Marketing Digest) in English, which contains articles of market analysis, new products, processing, packaging, equipment and other aspects of fisheries including aquaculture with summaries in the other three languages. Again, as yet, little information is relevant to aquaculture in the region.

A fifth member of the service is the FAO computerized system of fish marketing called GLOBEFISH. This database stores original information collected by INFOPECHE and the other regional services on such things as production and trade statistics, price series, the supply and demand situation, information on aquaculture, investment, joint ventures, and general economic data relevant to fisheries. Specific searches are made on request. FAO also produces Globefish Highlights, which is a quarterly analysis of medium trends. It is based on the information in the databank and is distributed as a supplement to the Trade News (above) in four languages.

Annual fishery statistics are also stored on an FAO database called FISHDAB. As yet aquaculture statistics are not separated.

Eurofish Report is a fortnightly review (published in the United Kingdom) of European fisheries and world fishing news. In addition to items of current news in the industry, including aquaculture, it contains data of supplies and prices of commodities, including aquaculture products, some of which are relevant to Africa.

Similarly, many of the international markets relevant to the interests of the region are covered by Seafood Business (USA), Seafood International (UK), Seafood Leader (USA), and Il Pesce (Italy). All these commercial publications are available through subscription and, in addition to prices and market trends, etc., often have relevant articles about aquaculture production world-wide.

1.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector

There are no technical assistance projects dealing specifically with the consumption of aquaculture products in the region. The main project in the region supporting fish trade, identifying markets, etc., is INFOPECHE. INFOPECHE was established by the Government of Norway and FAO initially to assist the member countries of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF), but subsequently all countries. However, as the North African countries work more closely with INFOSAMAK, and many countries are land-locked and have little interest in fish trade, the INFOPECHE regional project now works predominantly with countries of West and Central Africa.

INFOPECHE was established in 1985 as a regional project and part of a world-wide fish marketing and promotion network (see 1.6). It provides guidance for such investments and production decisions, and identifies important opportunities in export-oriented fisheries and aquaculture. INFOPECHE can, on request, provide specific advice with regard to handling and marketing of fish and aquaculture products.

Through FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme, projects on fish handling and marketing have been undertaken recently in Benin, Cameroon and Ghana, and in April 1988 the Consultative Meeting of Experts on Fish Handling and Processing in the Region took place in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, at which some aquaculturists participated. Finally, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is considering a US$ 10 million project for the development and modernization of coastal artisanal fisheries in Nigeria which has a major component on fish handling, processing, and marketing.

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