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FISH4ACP turns all eyes on aquaculture in Africa

Online conversation on aquatic value chain development puts spotlight on Africa’s aquaculture business

7 July 2023, Rome - Aquaculture is booming business in Africa. It also provides jobs and is becoming increasingly important in feeding the continents’ growing population. The latest FISH4ACP virtual tour attracted a record number of people to an online discussion on Africa’s aquaculture value chain development.

“As wild fish stocks are on the decline, aquaculture is becoming critical for Africa to meet growing demand for fish,” said Peter Wekesa, Environment and Natural Resources Governance Expert of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) opening FISH4ACP’s seventh virtual tour on 14 June 2023. 

 “Aquaculture also has the potential to drive economic growth and to strengthen people’s livelihoods,” he added, “but support is needed to make aquaculture value chains more resilient and sustainable.”

 The online event took a record number of 470 participants - fish workers, value chain stakeholders, experts, donors and the development community – on a virtual tour from tilapia ponds in Côte d'Ivoire and in Zimbabwe to Nigerian catfish farmers and oyster producers in The Gambian and Senegal’s mangroves.

 Discussions with local stakeholders focused on aquaculture as a business, featuring initiatives that are ramping up production and support communities, while highlighting good practices and sustainable aqua-business solutions.

 “Capacity building is key for local women to improve their livelihoods,” said Funmilola Shelika, President of the African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET), underlining the value of training if women want to grow their business. Technology is crucial too, she added: “It helps you to evolve your business and become better at what you are doing.”

 “For young people, it’s all about training and finance,” said Augustin Millan, a fish farmer from Côte d’Ivoire and the country’s National Young Fish Farming Entrepreneur Champion. He added: “Africa has abundant natural resources for aquaculture - now a new generation should get access to practice it.” 

 Funmilola and Augustin entered into a lively debate with experts on the challenges that small-scale fish farmers face in running their businesses. The active participation of the audience demonstrated just how much interest aquaculture in Africa is attracting. 

 “You need to have the will to stand on your own feet,” said Ana Menezes, Aquaculture Officer at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), explaining that FAO has moved away from considering small business as a subsistence activity and is now taking a more commercial approach. “Training also needs to deal with economics and finance, so that you can build your business plan and go to a bank to get a loan.”

 “Aquaculture has a bright future in Africa,” said Xinhua Yuan, FAO’s Deputy Director for Aquaculture in closing the event, adding: “All the young people we’ve heard today show that the knowledge and the energy are there.”

 The virtual tour is an online conversation on aquatic value chain development hosted by FISH4ACP, a global initiative led by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aimed at making aquatic value chains stronger.