Food Loss and Waste in Fish Value Chains

Reducing Food Loss and Waste (FLW) in the 4th All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (AAPHCE)

The 4th All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (AAPHCE) is a follow up to the series of biennial events together diverse stakeholders including policy makers, private sector actors, development agencies, civil society, researchers, academics, farmers, processors to learn, share information, build networks and partnerships aimed at addressing the pertinent issue of postharvest loss reduction in the African context. With the theme of “Sustainable Postharvest Management: Boosting Intra-African Agricultural Trade and Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security”, the event was held on 19th to 22nd September 2023 and was hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with FAO as Strategic Partner.

FAO, as leading UN agency on reducing food loss and waste, hosted a side event on “Introducing the Code of Conduct (CoC) for food loss and waste reduction to African regional/sub-regional organizations and countries”. The objective of the side event was to introduce the CoC for food loss and waste reduction and agree on an action plan (roadmap) for FAO Regional Office for Africa (RAF) and Regional/Sub-regional Organizations to support the implementation of the CoC in Africa towards achieving Malabo and SDGs targets on food loss and waste.

In addition to the side event, presentations were done across several subthemes. Specifically, below is the list of presentations supported by FAO on addressing food loss and waste in the aquatic food value chains.


Assessment of Fish Loss in Dagaa Fishery Supply Chain: Case Study Tanzania Mainland

Contact person: Alistidia Paul Mwijage ([email protected]), Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute

Food loss and waste is a major global issue that occurs in the fish supply chain from production to consumption. Effective addressing this issue, require a clear understanding of the scope and causes of the losses at every stage of the supply chain of the target fishery. This study assessed fish losses in the artisanal fishery supply chain of small pelagic fish species locally known as “Dagaa” from Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa and the Indian Ocean. The assessment was conducted by using the questionnaire loss assessment method (QLAM) and key informant interview. 

The results revealed that at production stage, the total loss for fishers was estimated at 28% comprised quality loss of 22 % and physical loss of 4%.  Also, the total loss percentage revealed to vary based on the type of fishing gear whereby for fishers using seine nets the loss was substantially higher than those using ring net (p 0.05). The causes of losses included: no icing practices, product theft during selling, protracted holding time prior to selling, and inappropriate storage facilities. Additionally, processors and traders together , suffered the  total, quality, and physical losses of 21%, 10%, and 9%, respectively. Similar to fishers, the total loss percentage were significantly different among actors (p< 0.05). Specifically, the artisanal fish processors suffered a loss of 19%, wholesaler 36%, retailer of fresh Dagaa 39%, retailer of dried Dagaa 22% and the transporter 20%. These losses were caused by among others, spoilage brought by poor sunlight-dependent processing technology, improper storage infrustructure and packaging materials, fragmentation and predation by mice, birds, and insects. Use of cold chain systems at production and retail of fresh Dagaa, use of improved drying and frying technologies, improved wharehouse storage infrastructure, market expansion, and raising local market preferences and demand for Dagaa are recommended to reduce fish loss in Tanzania.


Addressing Food Loss and Waste in Aquatic Food Value Chains  using Multi-dimensional Solutions Approach

Contact person: Omar Peñarubia ([email protected]), FAO

Food loss and waste (FLW) is a manifestation of poorly functioning food systems. It is widely recognized that significant levels of FLW occur in the food supply chain from production to consumption. Reducing FLW is widely seen as an important way to reduce production costs and increase the efficiency of the food system, improve food security and nutrition and contribute towards environmental sustainability. Solutions however will require action by either the public and/or private sectors. Effective fish loss reduction does not often rely on a single factor or variable such as the introduction of a new technology.  This paper describes a multi-dimensional solutions (MDS) approach to fish loss reduction and draws on experiences from strategy development work in the United Republic of Tanzania. The MDS approach to FLW prevention or reduction is a tailored approach, appropriate to the socioeconomic, business and political context that takes a multi-stakeholder approach and considers or includes changes to some or all of the following: policy, appropriate technology, skills and knowledge, services and infrastructure, regulatory environment, social and gender equity, as well as good linkages to and knowledge of markets. All actors in the food value chain need to be involved if FLW levels are to be significantly curtailed. Setting-up multi-stakeholder platforms and frameworks to encourage all relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities, academic and research institutions, producer organizations, industry associations and consumer organizations to work holistically and collaboratively towards improving food systems to reduce FLW. These factors suggest that no single individual or group can sufficiently tackle this problem alone; collaboration is needed. A key aspect of the approach is data that helps measure FLW as well as data that helps design and implement solutions. A good source of information is the FAO Voluntary Code of Conduct for Food Loss and Waste Reduction (CoC FLW), which provides generic guidance for a multi-dimensional approach. The paper highlights the key steps in developing a MDS strategy and the importance of taking a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach in strategy development.


Enhancing cross-border trade for artisanal smoked fish in Western Africa

Contact person: Aina Randrianantoandro ([email protected]), FAO

In West Africa, the fisheries and aquaculture sector plays a crucial role in ensuring food security and nutrition, employment, income, and livelihoods for thousands of people. Fish trade also significantly contributes to the gross domestic product and aids poverty reduction in the region. Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) undertook a baseline study in five selected countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo) to assess the current state, challenges, and prospects of cross-border trade for artisanal smoked fish in the region. Although various fish species are traded, small coastal pelagic and inland species dominate, with about 90 percent traded as smoked or dried fish. Nonetheless, official statistics on cross-border trade in artisanal smoked fish in the participating countries are largely underestimated and do not reflect ground realities. In fact, albeit thriving, activities along the value chain are artisanal and informal. As such, there is some research and information gap as regards market characteristics and dynamics. The proposed paper highlights the main elements drawn from this FAO study. It also calls attention to several barriers and challenges constraining cross-border trade in the region, which are market, technical, economic, and social. Finally, the paper recommends a number of policy actions – at national and regional levels – to enhance the trade and commercial perspectives for artisanal smoked fish in Western Africa.