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Post-harvest practices for empowering women in small-scale fisheries in Africa

Successful outcomes and guidance












Kimani, P., Adrien, B., Ward, A. and Ahern, M.  2021. Post-harvest practices for empowering women in small-scale fisheries in Africa  Successful outcomes and guidance. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1241. Rome, FAO.




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    Book (series)
    A Review of Women's Access to Fish in Small-Scale Fisheries 2015
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    Women play a critical role in every link of the value chain in small-scale fisheries, although their best-known roles are in processing and marketing of fish and other fishery products. This perception of the highly gender-segregated division of labour (men fishing / women processing) has shaped the generalized approach in supporting development initiatives for small-scale fisheries. More often than not, this approach targets men as fishers, and women as processors and marketers of fishery produ cts. However, this generalization has also made fisheries governance blind to women’s other valuable inputs to the sector. In fact, their roles can and should go beyond post-harvest and marketing. However, the lack of utilization of their additional contribution has deterred, for example, women’s participation in fisheries resource management and policy decision-making. The present review aims to move policy attention beyond the generalized, and perhaps limited, perception of women as fish proc essors and marketers and in this way enhance their participation in fisheries resource management and decision-making. The study describes the different ways women have access to fish in small-scale fisheries: as primary users (when they fish by themselves or they finance fishery operations), secondary users (when they access fish through kinship or other close relationships), and tertiary users (when they use capital to buy fish directly from fishers or traders). The review provides case studie s to illustrate some of the issues that tend to keep women in marginalized positions along the value chain. Factors and processes that can contribute to improve women’s participation and decision-making in small-scale fisheries, such as those that challenge conventional approaches based on traditional or “typical” gender roles and obsolete institutional arrangements, are also given. The document also discusses how participation can be improved by raising awareness on gender equality issues along the value chain through applying a gender lens, by providing appropriate support to women’s organizations, including formal recognition of their professional activities, by understanding the socioeconomic context and the particular needs of small-scale fisheries, by giving due attention to power and power relationships, and by taking greater account of the contribution of women in fisheries. As neither women nor men form homogenous groups, the challenge is even greater for women to have access to productive tools and services, which if secured can give them a greater say and control over fisheries resources, thereby increasing their social capital and financial capital. These reflections can be introduced in existing resource management arrangements such as co-management or community-based management, and can probably empower women and improve their participation in fishery resource management decision-making. The reflections in this review can and should be used as guidance and discu ssion material to develop interventions under the Global Assistance Programme in support of the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication.  
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    Book (series)
    Present and future markets for fish and fish products from small-scale fisheries - Case studies from Asia, Africa and Latin America. (Available online only) 2008
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    At the twenty-sixth session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries, FAO was requested to identify how trade in fish and fish products could further benefit small-scale fisheries and generate additional income and employment within the sector. Following this request, case studies were carried out in selected Latin American, African and Asian countries to study the importance of small-scale fisheries trade and identify opportunities for better integration into regional and international fish trade. The findings and recommendations of the case studies were presented and discussed at the tenth session of the FAO Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, from 30 May to 2 June 2006. In the countries studied, the contribution of the small-scale fisheries sector to the total marine catch was significant and ranged from 70 to 95 percent. The studies show that products from small-scale fisheries are largely focused on the domestic market. In Africa regional trade in small-scale fisheries products was found to be very important for meeting the protein requirements of poor people. Women are actively involved in fish processing and marketing and also participate in capture fisheries in coastal areas and estuaries as well as in other forms of harvesting of aquatic organisms. Their involvement results in increased well-being of their households since womens income is largely spent on food and childrens education. Study findings suggest that women can gain from increasing trade opportunities through their involvement in value adding activities and enterprises. The studies identified several avenues for better integration of small-scale fisheries into regional and international fish trade. Among them are product diversification, value addition, improvement of product quality and the access to new markets. However, a number of constraints need to be overcome before this can be achieved. Post-harvest losses due to poor infrastructure and lack of sto rage and transportation facilities need to be reduced and knowledge of proper fish handling methods needs to be improved. While products for export are meeting high quality standards, products for domestic and regional markets are often processed using substandard hygienic methods. Small-scale fisheries are also excluded from international markets because of the costs and difficulties encountered when trying to comply with international standards and those imposed by supermarket chains and other customers. The studies suggest that efforts should be aimed at improving facilities for preserving fish onboard, at the establishment of hygienic fish landing sites, increasing storage facilities and the supply of ice as well as improving roads, which connect fishing communities to markets. Equally important are the improvement of technical support and extension services to enable fishing communities to access appropriate technologies and information and training on quality improvement, p roper fish handling procedures and storage, product diversification, value addition as well as on packaging. Fishing communities should also be assisted in assessing their fisheries and aquatic resources and identifying those that have potential for trade in the domestic, regional and international markets. Small-scale fishers and processors can get better prices for their products by shortening the fish supply chain and increasing their bargaining and lobbying power. In this regard, the fo rmation of marketing cooperatives should be encouraged and existing associations of small-scale fishers and processors should be strengthened by providing support for institution building. There is also a need to raise awareness among microfinance institutions regarding the needs of the small-scale fisheries sector for credit and savings services.
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    Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries – Showcasing applied practices in value chains, post-harvest operations and trade 2020
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    The SSF Guidelines recognize the right of fishers and fishworkers, acting both individually and collectively, to improve their livelihoods through value chains, post-harvest operations and trade. To achieve this, the Guidelines recommend building capacity of individuals, strengthening organizations and empowering women; reducing post-harvest losses and adding value to small-scale fisheries production; and facilitating sustainable trade and equitable market access. This document includes nine studies showcasing applied practices and successful initiatives in support of enhancing small-scale fisheries value chains, post-harvest operations and trade, based on the recommendations contained in the SSF Guidelines. Cases presented have been chosen on the basis that they can be emulated elsewhere by small-scale fishery proponents including, but not limited to, national administrations, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, private enterprises, development agencies and intergovernmental bodies. An analysis of enabling conditions as well as related challenges and opportunities are discussed in each case. The document supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – specifically SDG 14.b: “provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”; and SDG 2.3: “by 2030 double the agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale food producers, particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment”.

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