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Small Fish Farming Opportunity Can Wipe Out Malnutrition

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY 

Pioneering work to boost diets across the global South is turning to the smallest of fish. While small in size, tiny fish are packed with nutrition when eaten whole, as they are in many cultures. Often these fish come packed with vitamin A, iron, zinc, calcium, protein and essential fats – all necessary elements to eradicate malnutrition and hidden hunger, especially among women and children.

It is estimated that 684,000 child deaths worldwide could be prevented by increasing access to vitamin A and zinc (WFP).

Iron deficiency is the most prevalent form of malnutrition worldwide, affecting an estimated 2 billion people. Iron deficiency is impairing the mental development of 40 to 60 per cent of children in developing countries (UNICEF). The World Health Organization says that eradicating iron deficiency can improve national productivity levels by as much as 20 percent.

Vitamin A deficiency affects approximately 25 per cent of the developing world’s pre-schoolers. It is associated with blindness, susceptibility to disease and higher mortality rates, and leads to the death of approximately 1 to 3 million children each year (UN).

This devastating evidence shows the need to find effective food solutions to eradicate these nutrient deficiencies. Access to affordable nutrient-rich food is also key to social and political stability. Already, there is serious unrest in many countries around the world because of food-price inflation.

Finding ways to boost nutritional health that are sustainable, low-cost and do not require substantial use of resources will have the best success in the poorest areas.

A number of studies suggest one solution may be eating more small fish. In many countries, these species are eaten as part of the diet, but often not in large enough quantities to address hunger and malnutrition. Small fish species are a remarkable food source because they are usually eaten whole, bringing greater nutritional benefits.

Small fish have a long history in human diets. Anchovies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchovy) are used  in many cuisines, for example.

A study conducted between 2010 and 2013 in Bangladesh and Cambodia by Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Senior Nutrition Adviser to WorldFish (worldfishcenter.org), found that the eating of small fish in both countries gave a significant boost to daily diets and massively improved nutrition and health. The project, called Linking Fisheries and Nutrition: Promoting Innovative Fish Production Technologies in Ponds and Wetlands with Nutrient-dense Small Fish Species, was supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

People in both countries still currently suffer from undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

In rural areas of Bangladesh and Cambodia it found 50 to 80 per cent of total fish consumed were small fish. The quantities consumed during each meal were small but they occurred in diets frequently. Typically, they were eaten whole, with the head, viscera (internal organs) and bones consumed. This meant consuming small fish packed a punch, giving the eater a dose of calcium, vitamin A, iron and zinc.

More specifically, the study found the iron-rich Mekong flying barb (Esomus longimanus) (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/169546/0) – eaten as part of a meal of rice and sour soup with its head intact in Cambodia – could provide 45 per cent of the daily iron requirement for a woman.

Malnutrition is also a serious problem in Bangladesh. Half the population lives below the poverty line and diets are poor in delivering necessary vitamins and minerals. This is damaging to peoples’ physical and mental health.

The study found existing fish aquaculture methods in Bangladesh were inefficient. But new technologies provide an opportunity to increase the quantity of fish harvested and increase household incomes. By using highly efficient low-risk polyculture systems – basically combining small, nutrient-dense fish with high-value fish such as carp or freshwater prawn – it is possible to significantly increase the quantity of fish produced.

Another one of the new techniques includes increasing pond depth, which conserves broodfish (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broodstock). Broodfish are the mature fish used for the production of eggs or sperm and are also called spawners.

The study estimated a production of 10 kilograms per pond per year of fish spread across the 4 million small ponds in Bangladesh has the potential to meet the recommended dietary intake for 6 million children in the country.

The work in Bangladesh to boost the production of small fish has inspired similar initiatives in Sunderbans, West Bengal, India and in Terai, Nepal. Initiatives in Cambodia and Kenya have also developed meals for young children by combining powdered rice or maize with small fish.

And in Africa, some are calling for more use of aquaculture as an alternative to dwindling fish sources. For sub-Saharan Africans, fish can make up 22 per cent of the protein in their diet.

As populations on the continent quickly rise, marine fisheries are beginning to be over-exploited. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and WorldFish are calling for an aquaculture revolution on the continent to move away from the old approach of just using ponds located on farms. To make a real impact, both organizations argue, there needs to be a partnership between smallholder farmers and others to build a commercial fish farming sector.

“Per capita fish supplies in Africa are dwindling,” Malcolm Beveridge, director for aquaculture at WorldFish, one of the 15 CGIAR research centers (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) (http://www.cgiar.org/cgiar-consortium/research-centers/), that generate and disseminate knowledge, technologies, and policies for agricultural development. “In Malawi, they fell from 10 kilograms to 6 kilograms per person between 1986 and 2006. Aquaculture has the potential to increase supplies of this affordable nutritious food for poor and vulnerable consumers,” he told The Guardian.

Published: July 2013

Resources

1) Scaling Up Nutrition: Scaling Up Nutrition, or SUN, is a unique movement founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. It unites people – from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers – in a collective effort to improve nutrition. Website: http://scalingupnutrition.org/

2) The WorldFish Center: WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, non-profit research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture. Website: http://www.worldfishcenter.org/

3) Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation: Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) is a non-profit private research and advocacy organization created through a USAID project. Website: http://www.shrimpfoundation.org/

4) Aquaculture for the Poor in Cambodia – Lessons Learned: The project was implemented by the WorldFish Center with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Government of Japan). Website: http://www.worldfishcenter.org/resource_centre/WF_2769.pdf

5) Global Aquatics: The website design is a bit dated but it is packed with the basics on aquaculture. Website: http://growfish.com/

6) Practical Action: Extensive resources are available on aquaculture and farming fish, including experience and techniques from the global South. Website: http://practicalaction.org/farming-fish-and-aquaculture

7) Preserving fish safely: Tips on the top ways to preserve fish from the University of Minnesota. Website: http://www1.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/meat-fish/preserving-fish-safely/

8) Preserving food techniques: Many inventive ways to preserve food, from wild game to fish to vegetables and fruits. Website: http://www.thenewsurvivalist.com/food_preservation_techniques.html

9) Ugandan fish sausages enterprise: A pioneering business started by a young businesswoman. Website: http://katifarms.org/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D_A1VeiJWycC&dq=development+challenges+november+2012&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-november-2012-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021


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Ugandan Fish Sausages Transform Female Fortunes

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

What to do when your food production enterprise is just not making much money? It is a common problem in the global South, where farmers and fishers often struggle to survive and can face the threat of bankruptcy and destitution when trying to provide essential food for their communities.

Some fish farmers in Uganda – many of them women – were caught up in this dilemma, unable to find a way to make a good income from the fish they were harvesting.

But a lucky hire for one fish cooperative, in the form of a humble secretary, has turned into a business and food success story that is getting set to jump across borders in Africa.

Lovin Kobusingya is the former secretary and university graduate who, through tenacity and ingenuity, has built a business selling fish sausages that has become a hit in Kampala, Uganda in East Africa.

Through trial and error, Kobusingya came upon the idea of turning the fish into sausages. The product, basically unknown in Uganda before, became a tidy solution to the dilemma of how to sell fish at a premium price that could boost the income of the farmers.

She joins the growing number of female entrepreneurs in Africa. Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurship in the world, according to the World Bank, which says two-thirds of women in Africa are in the labour force.

The 29-year-old mother of two set up Kati Fish Farms (http://katifarms.org) and Kati Farm Supplies Ltd. and now sells 500 kilograms of fish sausage a day.

Located in the country’s capital, Kampala, Kati Farm Supplies Ltd. prepares and sells a wide range of food products made with chicken, beef, fish, pork, goat, lamb and honey.

Kobusingya is notable not only for her success as a food entrepreneur, but also for the way she has generated attention and excitement around her business and products.

According to Kenya’s Nation newspaper, Kobusingya boosted her profile by gaining customers in Uganda’s hotels.

She graduated six years ago from Makerere University in Kampala (http://mak.ac.ug) and originally planned to go into banking. Like many graduates, she found it hard to break into the sector and get a steady job. After a year of frustrating job hunting, she found a position as a secretary with a fish cooperative society.

“I got a job after a rigorous interview,” she told the Nation. “It was not well-paying.

“The most challenging part of the job was dealing with fish farmers, who were grappling with an unsteady market for their produce.”

Despite all the problems facing the fish industry, Kobusingya became inspired to do something about it. Rather than just hoping market prices would turn in favour of the fish farmers, she diversified the cooperative’s products to add value to the raw fish ingredients.

“Most of our members were women who had taken up aquaculture (fish farming),” she said. “At the time, this was still a novelty.”

It is a tale of trial and error, as Kobusingya tells it.

“We tried selling our products, such as fish feeds, and even selling directly to consumers. But I felt that there was something more we could do to help the farmers even more.”

Becoming frustrated with the constraints of her role, she decided to start the business on top of her day job. She started buying fish directly from the farmers, filleting it herself and selling it to customers.

Yet, still fish was not selling and going to waste.

Then the eureka moment came: make fish sausages. This had never been done in Uganda and she set about undertaking research on the Internet to learn how to do it.

“I assembled bits and pieces of information from the Net on how to make the sausages,” Kobusyingya said.

“Everywhere I went seeking more information, people thought I was out of my mind.

“Nobody had heard of fish sausages but I received support from the Uganda Industrial Research Institute in 2011. They helped me to develop a formula for the product,” she said.

With the new product developed, Kobusingya tried selling it to the hotels in Kampala. And this was the crucial moment when her fortunes changed: people were excited by the new and novel product.

The first orders earned her US $800 and with that jolt of cash, she was able to launch the product in February 2012.

Production started at 100 kilograms of fish sausage a day. By the third month, she was able to produce 500 kilograms a day. And because the product is so popular, she is running hard to meet demand from hotels, food outlets and institutions.

Expanding into selling smoked fish and frozen chicken and beef, she is now working with 470 fish farmers, most of whom are women.

“This business has motivated farmers throughout Uganda,” she said.

“The enterprise, now worth about Ush50 million (US $19,230), has 16 permanent employees,” she said.

She also took the fish sausages on the road and introduced them to the SmartFish trade event in Lusaka, Zambia, where they became a hit with attendees.

SmartFish (http://www.smartfish-coi.org/#!home/mainPage) is funded by the European Union through the European Development Fund and is implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission in partnership with regional trade organizations. The objective of the event was to increase trade within the region.

With her confidence further boosted by the positive international reaction, Koubusingya is exploring how to sell into Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

“I always knew I was a businesswoman,” she told The New York Times. “When I was in high school, I used to sell illegal sweets. And I made money.”

“I am very happy and proud” of being a female entrepreneur. “When I was young, they said: ‘A woman is a woman – a man should take care of you.’ But women are actually contributing a lot more than men. We always find ourselves multitasking,” when juggling work and a family.

Resources

1) SmartFish: The SmartFish Programme aims at contributing to an increased level of social, economic and environmental development and deeper regional integration in the ESA-IO region through improved capacities for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources. Website:http://fisheries.ioconline.org/smartfish.html2) Southern Innovator Issue 3: Agribusiness and Food Security: Packed with tips and tales on how to tackle the challenges of making food production pay. Website:http://www.scribd.com/doc/105746025/Southern-Innovator-Magazine-Issue-33) Uganda Industrial Research Institute: Uganda Industrial Research Institute is Uganda Government’s lead agency for industrialization. Website:http://www.uiri.org/4) A photo gallery showing the harvesting of the fish and the making of the sausages. Website:http://katifarms.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70&Itemid=90 

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: November 2012

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D_A1VeiJWycC&dq=development+challenges+november+2012&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-november-2012-issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021