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Oyster production offers great opportunities for women in Senegal

FISH4ACP value chain analysis provides roadmap to support female oyster producers and preserve Senegal mangrove forests

13 October 2021, Dakar - An analysis of the oyster sector in Senegal shows the possibilities for women to increase their incomes and put better food on the table at home. Some fifty stakeholders reviewed the findings of the study and discussed how FISH4ACP can strengthen the sector and safeguard the environment. 

 “Oysters are an important source of income and of healthy food for women in the south of our country,” said Namsa Keita, technical adviser of the Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Economy at an event where experts and stakeholders discussed the findings of an in-depth assessment of Senegal’s oyster sector. He added: “However, we need to boost production in a sustainable way and protect the mangroves where oysters grow.”

The value chain analysis was carried out by FISH4ACP, a global initiative aimed at making fisheries and aquaculture value chains in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific more productive and sustainable, in collaboration with the Dakar Oceanographic Research Center-Thiaroye.

The study found that, despite a yearly production of an estimated 16 000 tonnes - most of which is harvested with some 400 tonnes coming from oyster farms - demand for oysters on the domestic market exceeds supply. Oyster farms offer the most promising option to sustainably increase production and bridge the gap that is currently filled with imports from neighbouring countries. 

Most of the work in oyster harvesting and farming is done by women from the southern provinces of Casamance and Siné-Saloum. According to the analysis they represent 90% of an estimated 13 000 people involved. Oysters are key to their livelihoods. They supplement revenues from agriculture and provide most protein after fish.   

 “Strengthening this sector is very much in line with EU priorities to generate income for women and to improve food and nutrition security,” said Irene Mingasson, Ambassador of the European Union in Senegal, adding that: “We also support FISH4ACP because it works to preserve mangroves. Their health is good for nature and crucial for the reproduction of many aquatic species, including oysters.”

During two days of debate, experts and stakeholders representing the oyster value chain discussed ways to support the sector, a first step towards a development plan that will set the agenda of FISH4ACP’s activities in Senegal.

“FISH4ACP will work to improve the livelihoods of female oyster producers and empower them to become stewards of their environment,” said Gouantoueu Guei, Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and FAO Representative to Senegal, who explained that FISH4ACP will help to improve product quality, expand oyster farming and develop marketing tools to add value and boost sales. 

Better services for the sector, ranging from inputs, transport, finance or sanitary services, strengthening women producer associations and improvements of the regulatory framework were among the options discussed to make the value chain stronger and increase prosperity, promote social benefits and safeguard the environment. 

FISH4ACP is an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) contributing to food and nutrition security, economic prosperity and job creation by ensuring the economic, social and environmental sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. FISH4ACP is implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).