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Zambia poised to strengthen Lake Tanganyika small pelagics fisheries

FISH4ACP supports value chain development to improve food security, reduce poverty and safeguard aquatic life

12 April 2022, Mbala, Zambia – FISH4ACP, an innovative programme investing in fisheries and aquaculture value chain development in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, was launched today in Zambia to help make its small pelagics sector stronger and more sustainable in a bid to bring better food, reduce poverty and preserve Lake Tanganyika’s aquatic resources. 

 “Zambia is a major producer of small pelagics, a sector that provides a lot of jobs and a healthy meal to many people in our country,” said Anna Songolo, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock at an event in Mbala close to Lake Tanganyika that marked the start of FISH4ACP in Zambia. “However, innovative solutions are needed to make the small pelagics sector more productive and sustainable.” 

With an estimated yearly production of 11 000 tonnes, small pelagics like sprat sardine, or kapenta as they are locally known, make up some 30 per cent of capture fisheries production in Zambia. Almost half of the jobs in Zambia’s fishing industry are in the small pelagics sector, a share that is even higher for women and youth. Overfishing and post-harvest losses, however, hamper growth and sustainability in the country’s fisheries sector.  

Zambia is one of 12 countries covered by FISH4ACP, a global initiative led by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) with funding from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) aimed at making fisheries and aquaculture value chains in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific more sustainable. 

"In supporting innovative solutions to make the kapenta value chain more productive and sustainable, FISH4ACP will contribute to tackling constraints to the sector in Lake Tanganyika, such as overfishing and low profitability," said Matthias Reusing of the EU Delegation to Zambia. He added: “We are confident that FISH4ACP will unlock potential for sustainable fisheries in Zambia and foster sustainable food production."

“What’s innovative about FISH4ACP is the approach of looking at sustainable development from the economic, social and environmental angle,” said Suze Percy Filippini, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representative in Zambia. “In Zambia, this can bring significant benefits to small-scale fishers, processors and traders, contribute to economic growth and help tackle some constraints to more productive and sustainable Lake Tanganyika fishing.”

The event today opened a two-day discussion with some 40 stakeholders of the Lake Tanganyika kapenta value chain in Zambia from the private and public sector. FISH4ACP aims to involve them form the start to ensure that its work is well grounded in the realities of small pelagics fisheries and responds to the needs of the value chain actors.  

“Stakeholder involvement is key to deliver meaningful results to the livelihoods of the communities that we support,” said  Masiliso Phiri, FISH4ACP’s National Professional Officer in Zambia, adding: “FISH4ACP demonstrates how FAO is transforming food systems in the countries that we serve by achieving the four betters: better production, better nutrition, better environment, better life.” 

She explained that FISH4ACP will start activities with an in-depth analysis of the small pelagics value chain to help actors better understand it and to plan the road ahead towards a more productive and sustainable sector. At the same time, she added, the initiative will explore opportunities for cooperation with Tanzania, where FISH4ACP is also supporting development of the small pelagics value chain.