A new training centre to support the development of small-scale fish processing in Ghana has been launched by the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with Development Action Association (DAA), and Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MOFAD).
The new training centre, under the management of DAA, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to agricultural skills development and empowerment in rural areas, is located at Kokrobite, in the Ga-South Municipality of Greater Accra.
The facility is aimed at providing support to national and regional government efforts at improving hygienic fish processing and reducing post-harvest losses among the estimated over 35,000 small-scale fish processors across the country.
James Lykos, Acting Director for Economic Growth at USAID Ghana, in his opening address highlighted challenges in Ghana’s fisheries sector including overfishing, unsafe fish handling practices, declining fish stock, illegal and unreported fishing, and polluted marine waters as threats to Ghana’s economic and social well-being.
“I would like to urge the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, to implement the closed season as proposed in the National Fisheries Management Plan (NFMP 2015-2019). The closed season in combination with other management practices, will result in increased landings by 90,000 metric tons by 2030,” he said.
According to James Lykos, fisheries management is not only vital for Ghana but the entire world as fisheries play a crucial role in supporting livelihoods, providing employment and driving social and economic development.
“The U.S Government’s Feed the Future, Agricultural development initiative equips Ghana’s fish processors; mainly women with information and skills on improved processing technologies”, he said.
Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, expressed the ministry’s profound gratitude to USAID for the immense support offered the fishing sector in Ghana particularly with the introduction of safe and hygienic fish processing methods using the new improved ahotor oven.
“Working together, the USAID, SFMP, MOFAD, Ghana Fisheries Commission (GFC) and Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), supported the development of two new initiatives that DAA will incorporate into its training; the Ahotor (Comfort) oven and ‘class one’ hygienic fish processing certification,” she said.
“The Ahotor oven uses 30 percent less fuel (firewood) which reduces pressure on coastal mangroves and increases profit margins, it produces less smoke to impact the women and children around the smokers and produces less cancer-causing elements in smoked fishing products.”
Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye added that, “The DAA training centre will train the women on the use of the Ahotor oven and the modules are based on fish hygiene, handling processing and preservation techniques that ultimately will improve the health of consumers and increase the value of their products.”
She also explained that the centre has the potential to train more than 300 women fish processors each year from all regions of Ghana to achieve the class one hygienic fish processing certification established by the Fisheries Commission. This she said, signifies that the women have achieved the minimum standards of hygienic fish processing and handling.
The certification is to also ensure that the women have implemented other health and safety programs such as fire management, improved business practices and standard small-business accounting practices.
Dignitaries present at the launch of the DAA training centre were; Brian Crawford, SFMP Program Manager, J.P Walsh (PhD), University of Rhode Island-Director of Coastal Resources, Nii Odotei, Chief Fisherman of Kokrobite and Nii Adeansah II, Chief of Kokrobite.