Thriving Africa with Aquatic Foods

The world needs to establish food and nutrition security for millions of people facing hunger in Africa, crucial for the sustainable socio-economic development and the long-term prosperity of the continent.  Malnutrition is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa, with almost a quarter of its population undernourished. Sustainably increasing the supply of aquatic foods could make them affordable enough to prevent some 166 million micronutrient deficiencies around the world by 2030.

The event will convene voices from Zambia to Kenya to spotlight the crucial role and opportunity aquatic foods offer to sustainably ramp up nutritious food production. The dialogues and discussions will also address the bottlenecks and real-world solutions to unleashing their untapped potential in ending hunger and malnutrition and creating new income streams for Africa’s people.

Incorporating aquatic foods into national plans is not an option but a necessity for Africa. With sustained investments, WorldFish’s policy analysis indicates a new avenue for economic growth and employment opportunities,” said WorldFish’s Essam Yassin Mohammed during his opening remarks at #AGRF2023.

Challenges to increasing aquatic foods production in Africa 

Africa severely lags behind other regions in developing its aquatic food production, consumption, and trade share. The supply chain continues to be threatened by the lack of better fish breeds and more varied fish feeds, in addition to technical training, limited research capacity, insufficient financial and human resources, and limited market infrastructure and access. This is observed to potentially restrict the capability of African governments to safeguard the sustainability and profitability of the industry, despite the enormous potential of the industry.

Big facts on aquatic foods in Africa: 

With a water body 3 times the landmass of the African continent, and its vastly untapped potential, fish and other aquatic foods offer a unique opportunity to sustainably achieve healthy, nutritious diets for the projected 2.4 billion African people by 2030, along with improving livelihoods, especially among coastal communities, women, and youth. Sustainably produced aquatic foods can also lower the overall environmental impact from food production as they have a smaller carbon footprint compared to crops and livestock. Therefore, aquatic foods have a crucial role to play in addressing food, nutrition, and income security in a changing climate for a thriving Africa in the 21st century.

-Fish and other aquatic foods represent a major source of protein and micronutrients for nearly 400 million Africans

-By 2030, it is estimated that the demand for fish and aquatic foods will rise by 30% in Africa because of the rising costs per capita of income and population

-As of 2011, fisheries and aquaculture have contributed approximately US$24 billion (1.3% of the continent’s GDP) to the African economy

-Currently, the sector employs over 12 million people, with 58% working in production and 42% in post-harvest processing

-More than 90 percent of women in the African fisheries and aquaculture sector earn their livelihoods in post-harvest work