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Capacity Building for the Management of Small-Pelagic Fisheries in Eritrea - TCP/ERI/3606









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    Capacity Building for the Management of Small-Pelagic Fisheries in Eritrea - TCP/ERI/3606 2020
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    Eritrea’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors account for 17 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), but the fisheries sub-sector only contributes 18 percent of this value, or 3 percent of the national total. Annual per capita fish consumption is low in Eritrea, with an estimated annual per capita fish consumption of 0.4 kilograms, compared to an African-wide average of 9.8 kilograms. In fact, low dietary diversity and access to protein-rich foods among certain segments of the population continues to be a problem, especially among the rural, coastal and more isolated communities, many of whom work in or depend on small-scale fisheries. In addition, fish food consumption remains skewed towards urban populations. From having the second lowest Human Development Index (HDI) out of the 188 countries assessed in 2015 to experiencing high levels of inter-annual variability in market, export and exchange rate activities, Eritrea has an underdeveloped private investment context from which productivity gains and economic diversification could otherwise prosper. The small-pelagic fisheries sector, for instance, has the potential to yield cost-effective investments at scale while actively contributing to poverty reduction and food security and nutrition. With 2 500 kilometers of coastline, including the Dahlak Archipelago where small-pelagic fish varieties are found, Eritrea’s potential in developing its fisheries sector has been halted by a complex, post-independence socioeconomic context. Recent declines in output, employment and income in the small-scale fisheries sector were not due to overfishing or unsustainable natural resource practices. Instead, this is part of broader programmatic and institutional challenges in national sustainable development plans. The Government of Eritrea has therefore published its Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, identifying three priorities for the fisheries sector.
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    Inland small-pelagic fisheries utilization options, marketing and opportunities for support 2012
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    The fisheries sector contributes greatly to the economies of the eastern, central and southern regions of Africa (ECSA) in terms of income, employment and export revenue. Until recently, only large-sized fish were exploited for human consumption but small-sized pelagic fish were used for animal feed production. However, in the last decade, concerted efforts have been made in various African countries to reverse the trend. For example in 2005, an FAO led study assessed post-harvest losses in one of the abundant small-sized pelagic fisheries (Rastrineobola argentea), in the East Africa states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In 2011, Uganda through the Department of Fisheries Resources (DFR), requested FAO under the Technical Corporation Programme (TCP) to address the question of high post-harvest losses in the fishery and improvement of upstream handling against a backdrop of declining per capita consumption trends. Under this programme, several products were developed to increase Rastrin eobola argentea, locally called Mukene, for human consumption. The SMARTFISH Programme, with funding from the European Union (EU) built on previous efforts by initiation of the present study that has been designed to look at increased utilization options to enhance cross-border trade in small pelagics. As a test case, products from Brycinus nurse (Ragoge) and Neobola bredoi (Musiri) commonly found in Lake Albert of Uganda were developed together with potential Ugandan processors and the economic ally viable products were marketed in neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda to gauge their marketability. Using a structured questionnaire with some input from the Trade Event Specialist, some potential regional traders tasked to evaluate their prospects. Prior to product development, information was gathered on all aspects of the Musiri and Ragoge fishery, including the sanitary status of fishing vessels, time of capture, daily catches, drying surfaces, storage facilities, packaging, wholesale operatio ns as well as markets and transportation. The sand-free sundried products, powdered and fried products were promoted for regional markets. As a complementary study, the nutrient content of products from both fish species was determined for purposes of backstopping the three up-graded processors who were at different levels of development. The regional market opportunities surveyed indicated that there was an insatiable demand for all products made from small-sized pelagics ranging from sun-dried to powdered. The large quantities demanded by the regional markets could not be met by processors using traditional processing methods and operating at a small-scale. It was also evident that product quality was a determinant factor in product pricing. The cost of sand-free products was one and a half times more than adulterated products which underscore the influence of consumers in the market place. There were other external drivers that are likely to enhance regional trade of the identified value-added products from Uganda. They included population increases, regional geo-economic and political blocks, carbohydrate-based diets, nutritional properties of fish and civil strife or wars. During the implementation of the present study, there were two major challenges namely; seasonality of the two species under scrutiny and the competence of local processors to be up-graded to standards required by the regional as well as international markets. Both factors slowed down the implementatio n process because unplanned exposure visits and training had to be conducted to improve the competence of potential processors under the up-grading SMARTFISH scheme. In conclusion, there was an insatiable demand in the region for all products made from small-sized pelagic fishes from Uganda and trade in such products can be enhanced in the region with concerted effort from all key actors along the value-chain, improved upstream handling, broadened utilization base, consumption campaigns and enfo rcement of quality and safety standards. However, implementation of some intervention measures cited would require harmonized policies across national borders, substantial investment in the sector, sensitization of key actors with regard to market requirements and goodwill among policy enforcers at border crossings.
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    Establishment of a New Analytical Laboratory at a Food Production Facility in Dekemhare City, Eritrea - TCP/ERI/3609 2020
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    Food safety and quality are essential for food security, public health and economic development. Improving laboratory-testing capacity contributes to increasing the supply of safe, wholesome high-quality food by reducing the impact of food-borne diseases that can cause illness and death. Food quality analysis and management also help to stem the economic consequences of food-borne illness and food insecurity, contributing to a healthier, more prosperous and productive nation. Ensuring the safety and quality of foods also promotes international trade and access to new markets, which provides a means to strengthen livelihoods all along the value chain, alleviating poverty and hunger. Eritrea is a young East African country, gaining independence in May 1991 after a 30-year war with Ethiopia. The development of industry in Eritrea, including the food industry and laboratories, dates back to the Italian colonial period (1890-1941), when Eritrea had a relatively prosperous economy. However, during British rule (1941-1952) and the Ethiopian administration that followed, a lack of investment led to a deterioration of its infrastructure. Eritrea’s current industrial base is made up of numerous small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the Government is making a significant effort to increase their contribution to the national economy – including private-sector food production and processing enterprises. However, Eritrea’s Government is facing several macro-economic challenges, which are affecting the operations of various ministries including Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health. As a result, preventive activities such as those related to food safety receive less priority than curative medical services. This has seriously affected the ministries’ operation and monitoring of food safety analysis. The national food control system needs an urgent review and redesign. Establishment of basic operational and management systems, including training and capacity building of laboratory staff and laboratory accreditation to international standards, are needed to strengthen this system and enhance its capacity for ensuring that safe and nutritiousfood reaches consumers. Fisheries and agriculture are important economic sectors that have good potential for producing export earnings with relatively low levels of investment. However, ever-increasing international food safety standards and trade regulations are seriously hampering the export of agricultural products and hence the country's efforts to gain market access.

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