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Khadim Tine: "Oyster farming can help preserve mangroves."

Oyster farmer from Senegal at FAO’s Science and Innovation Forum

20 October 2023, Rome - Oyster farming can help preserve mangroves, said Khadim Tine at FAO’s Science and Innovation Forum debate on addressing climate challenges. An interview with this oyster farmer from Senegal, who is actively involved in efforts by the global fish value chain development program FISH4ACP to make Senegal’s oyster more productive and sustainable.

What was your message to the Science and Innovation Forum?
“Preserving mangroves is close to my heart because I come from a fishing village in Senegal. With the oyster spat collection system that I have set up, we contribute to the conservation of mangroves. When we talk about protecting mangroves, we also talk about preserving coastal areas, the line of defense against the sea. It is also about biodiversity, because mangroves are breeding grounds for many fish species.”

How does the oyster spat collection system help preserve mangroves? 
“I work with women oyster farmers. We use oyster spat collector trays to capture the oyster spat in the marshy waters where we work. This allows us to do the oyster farming. Previously, wild oyster harvesting could involve cutting and damage the mangrove roots on which the oysters grow. Since that is no longer needed, we are now contributing to preserving the mangrove – a win-win partnership between the women and myself.”

What attracted you to oyster farming?
“I followed a rather particular path. I am a cook by training. In 2012, I had the opportunity to work in a restaurant in France, at La Tremblade in the Marennes-Oléron basin. It is one of the largest oyster production areas in Europe. That’s where I’ve seen oyster farming done in a modern way. So, I thought to myself, why not improve the situation in my country? 

“There is a huge market in Senegal. Demand exceeds supply. If we develop oyster farming, women will benefit the most. In Senegal, 95% of the people involved in harvesting oysters are women. This will feed many families.”

How has your oyster farm evolved?
“The farm, called “La Cabane Penchée”, was launched five years ago. It’s a family business. My wife does the accounting, and my sister does the sales. I’m the first Senegalese to set up a modern oyster farm. But it wasn’t easy. It took two years to get our first good harvest. This year we hope to produce six tonnes."

What is your involvement in FISH4ACP’s efforts to make the Senegalese oyster value chain more productive and sustainable? 
“Since the arrival of FISH4ACP in Senegal, I adhered to the initiative to promote the development of modern oyster farming. We have created the national network of actors of modern oyster farming, which I have the honor to lead. We will train many young people in oyster farming. I know they will be interested, because it is productive work, which can also have a great economic return.”

What are your future plans?
“My plan is to help the Senegalese oyster sector grow. To modernize oyster spat collection, to also have other production areas, in Saint-Louis in the north, for example. Basically, it is to be able to grow quality oysters in Senegal with the most modern and productive methods.”