EGYPT - The Embassy of Switzerland’s Office for International Cooperation, in collaboration with WorldFish and CARE International, has launched the Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market System (STREAMS) project aimed at boosting production of inexpensive, nutritious and safe fish from sustainable aquaculture systems in Egypt.
STREAMS will increase the participation of Egypt’s underprivileged socioeconomic segments in the country’s fast-growing aquaculture sector while also making fish more affordable and accessible. Increased availability and consumption of fish can reduce Egypt’s high rates of childhood stunting, undernutrition and obesity.
The three-year STREAMS project will assist fish farmers, fish traders and retailers across seven Egyptian governorates: Kafr El Sheikh, Beheira, Sharkia, Fayoum, Port Said, Minya and Beni Suef. The funding allocated for this project is 2 million Swiss Francs.
STREAMS will focus on three goals. The first is to train fish farmers on improved management practices in existing fish farming zones and increase access to the Abbassa improved strain of Nile tilapia, a faster growing variety of the main fish species stocked in Egyptian fish farms. The second is to promote aquaculture practices in geographical areas that are not yet engaged in this sector with a focus on small-scale and integrated systems. The third is to enhance marketing systems for aquaculture products through support for retailers, the provision of market information and the establishment of a certification scheme for farmed Egyptian tilapia.
“Since 2011, Swiss investments in the Egyptian fishing sector have increased income and employment in the sector and have provided the Egyptian population with better quality and healthier food at low cost. The success of this program is a solid base for more efforts to strengthen the Egyptian aquaculture market and to contribute to food security in Egypt,” says Markus Leitner, Ambassador of Switzerland to Egypt.
In a nation where approximately 25% of people are resource-poor (according to the 2013 Statistics of the UN World Food Programme), fish is an important part of the Egyptian diet, providing essential protein and micronutrients. The development of aquaculture, however, has been constrained by a restrictive regulatory environment, poor post-harvest and supply chain handling, fish health issues and licensing arrangements favouring medium-scale businesses.
STREAMS will improve market standards in fish distribution systems and introduce testing frameworks in order to provide definitive evidence that Egyptian farmed fish is safe. Moreover, STREAMS will pilot-test small-scale aquaculture and integrated aquaculture-agriculture systems and help aquaculture producer organizations to advocate for policy changes.
“With its robust support for national aquaculture development, Egypt is setting an example for other countries in the Middle East and Africa to follow. Increased investment in aquaculture will bring improvements in nutrition and food security as well as increased employment and income,” said Nigel Preston, Director General of WorldFish.
STREAMS builds on the significant gains realized through the Swiss-Funded Improving Employment and Incomes through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project (2011 - 2015) also led by WorldFish Egypt in partnership with CARE International in Egypt. IEIDEAS saw approximately 2400 individual fish farmers trained in best management practices, and 109 million fry of the faster growing Abbassa - the improved strain of Nile tilapia - distributed to 459 fish farmers.
“The successes we acquired with women fish retailers in IEIDEAS will allow us to scale up and multiply our impact in the STREAMS project. Our aim at STREAMS is to facilitate the creation of a supporting environment that empowers marginalized women, maintains their rights and builds their capacities. It will also provide them with a better representation, encouraging them to become more self-reliant and to stand for their rights, while enabling them to do their jobs safely and to increase their income,” explains Hazem Fahmy, CARE International in Egypt Country Director.
According to 2015 statistics issued by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), agricultural and fishing activities comprised the largest segment of workers engaged in the Egypt’s economic activities, at 6.5 million people or 26.5 per cent of the workforce.
TheFishSite News Desk