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Stronger kapenta fisheries will help reduce poverty in Zambia and safeguard Lake Tanganyika's aquatic life

FISH4ACP value chain analysis can show the way to sustainable development of small pelagic sector

6 December 2022, Mpulungu, Zambia – The outcomes of an in-depth analysis of Zambia’s small pelagic sector were presented today to public and private sector stakeholders, gathering to discuss ways to make this fishery stronger and more sustainable in a bid to produce better food, reduce poverty and preserve Lake Tanganyika’s aquatic resources. 

 “Kapenta is an important source of healthy food for many people in Zambia and provides an income to our fishing communities,” said Evans Mutanuka, Assistant Director of Fisheries at a meeting where the results of an analysis of Zambia’s small pelagic value chain were presented to around 60 sector representatives. He added: “If we want to secure this fishery for future generations, we need to improve production and lessen the pressure on fish stocks.” 

The value chain analysis was carried out by the fish value chain development initiative FISH4ACP in collaboration with WorldFish. It shows that small pelagic fish, including sprat and sardine, locally known as kapenta, make up around 30 per cent of capture fisheries production in Zambia.  

With an estimated yearly production of 28 000 tonnes, small pelagics also provide nearly half the jobs in Zambia’s fishing industry, a share that is even higher for women, who mostly work in fish processing and trading. But their incomes hardly allow them to feed their families: most workers on the kapenta value chain live below the poverty line, the analysis found, with women earning a yearly average of USD 200.  

The study also shows that fishers are concerned about declining catches and smaller kapenta size, as well as about growing numbers of fishers and the use of nets with mesh sizes that are too small. Post-harvest losses are an important cause of low incomes for women, according to the analysis. A lack of capital exposes them to risks that include engaging in fish for sex transactions.  

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 (EU) 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. 

During the two-day meeting in Mpulungu on the shore of Lake Tanganyika around 60 private and public sector stakeholders will validate the outcomes of the value chain analysis and discuss the best ways to ensure that the kapenta sector contributes to better incomes, healthier food and responsible fishing.  

“FAO is happy to support this sector-wide dialogue towards a blue transformation of kapenta fishing in Zambia,” said Suze Percy Filippini, FAO Representative in Zambia. “FISH4ACP is a true example of FAO’s agenda to transform the food systems in the countries that we serve by achieving the four betters: better production, better nutrition, better environment, better life.” 

This dialogue is the first step towards an upgrading strategy for the kapenta value chain in Zambia expected early next year, she explained. This strategy will explore opportunities for cooperation with Tanzania, she added, where FISH4ACP is also supporting the small pelagics value chain.