Stakeholders seek to review aquaculture's role in Africa's food security

Kenya Fisheries Director Lucy Obungu with African Union Director Dr Huyam Salih after the official opening of the 2nd General Assembly Congress of Aquaculture for Africa (ANAF) in Naivasha on Jan 15, 2023. [Courtesy]

Kenya is this week hosting the 2nd General Assembly Congress of Aquaculture for Africa (ANAF) as efforts to transform Aquaculture gain momentum.

More than a hundred delegates from all African states and representatives from regional economic communities are meeting in Naivasha for a three-day event that seeks to review Africa’s food security policies amidst major global disruption in the food supply chains.

Present at the event that has been hosted by the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) are development partners drawn from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and officials from the Kenyan Government.

The stakeholders will review ways of enhancing aquaculture development in Africa, to ensure there is sufficient fish production and empowerment of communities. 

AU-IBAR Director Dr Huyam Salih said the participants will also be looking into ways of promoting Africa’s aquaculture production and ways for governments to partner with the private sector, in a bid to eliminate existing challenges.

“Governments’ participation in their continental organisation and developing a work programme based on their common problems bestows assurance that appropriate strategies are engaged to resolve priority issues, create wider impact and efficiently perform more effectively in its institutional roles,” Dr Salim said.

While Africa has significant potential, she said the current aquaculture production is still low, for it to sustainably feed a growing population and provide employment and social economic development needs.

Only 600,000 people are directly employed in the sector, in a continent of more than a billion people, with Africa contributing a meager 6 per cent in global fish production.

Salim said the original concept for ANAF is to serve as a stand-alone continental institution providing technical backing and facilitation to the African aquaculture “subsector and continue to support aquaculture development in the continent, as an autonomous and self-reliant intergovernmental organization.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Maritime Affairs Principal Secretary Betsy Njagi said Aquaculture is a critical component of aquatic food systems.

In a speech read by Director of Fisheries Lucy Obungu, the PS who opened the meeting, called for sustainable and responsible development of aquaculture, within the context of the blue economy.

“It is in the above context, the government of Kenya has embraced and placed into focus the sustainability of aquaculture in our overall national development agenda,” PS Njagis said.

“In this vein, given the importance of fish in our food baskets and in social safety nets for the majority of our citizens, I wish to implore all member states to similarly embark on promoting industry or market led-aquaculture development for food security, income and wealth creation.”

The meeting is set to provide opportunities for information sharing on critical tools for sustainable and market-led aquaculture development as well as to establish aquaculture development in the African Union member states.

A senior Livestock Officer at East Africa Commission David Balikowa said for the sector to thrive, there is a need to address challenges such as lack of information and lack of quality fish feed and fingerlings.

“There is a huge potential for the sector to create employment and empower communities,” he said. 

ANAF was officially endorsed by African Ministers at the recent meeting in Addis Ababa as an African Union-recognised Network to support aquaculture development in Africa with its Secretariat based at AU-IBAR.

Senior Fisheries and Aquaculture Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa Ndiaga Gueye said ANAF objectives include efforts to maximize the utilization of scarce resources for aquaculture development in Africa, fostering sustainable growth to combat poverty, ensure food security, provide employment, and promote rural development.

He pointed out that the objectives align seamlessly with FAO's mission of achieving, “more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, better environment, and better life leaving no one behind.”

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