CSO SUN calls for the development of the fisheries sector for improved nutrition

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CSO SUN calls for the development of the fisheries sector for improved nutrition

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Almost one-fifth of Zambia’s 753 000 km2 land area is covered with water, including rivers, lakes, and swamps. These water bodies have the potential to provide adequate amounts of fish for consumption in Zambia. We also note that 45 percent of children under five are undernourished. One of the many causes of malnutrition is inadequate intake of animal proteins required to achieve optimal health and essential elements for growth and development.

It is important to emphasize that to reduce malnutrition rates (and in particular stunting), a deliberate policy that supports diversification of agriculture is necessary; but what is more critical, is to have a deliberate policy that provides incentives for fisheries and livestock production to allow for promoting increased per capita animal protein intake in Zambia.

Fish for instance, is rich not only in protein, but also important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamin A, iron which are vital for health maintenance and growth. Fish is the second choice of animal protein after chicken and comprises a greater percentage of Zambia’s protein supply than it does in the rest of Africa and the developing world.

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Despite the vast water bodies in Zambia, fish production is low; information from the department of fisheries shows that in the year 2012 Zambia recorded to have captured 80638 metric tones of fish, this number decreased to 75 187 metric tones in 2013. Fish production is embarrassingly low because our water resources are capable of producing more fish for consumption and export. Unfortunately, annual fish production has not been consistent and the quality of catch has deteriorated, resulting in most of the fish in the country being imported. The department of fisheries recorded that in 2012 Zambia imported 15,988 Metric tonnes of fish, and 28,666 Metric tonnes in 2013, almost a double increase.

To improve the contribution of fisheries to food and nutrition security, there are challenges that we need to address as a country. Among them are;

  • Inadequate funding  to the fisheries department – It is sad to note that in the past two years, between 2013 and 2014, funding to the fisheries department our analysis shows a reduction of 17%. It is justifiable to demand for increase in funding to fisheries because the fisheries sector in is an important source of good nutrition, employment, rural income, food security, import substitution and biodiversity.
  •  Fisheries in Zambia are characterised by having a very high, unsustainable fishing pressure and  rampant use of illegal, destructive fishing.  We call upon the government and the private sector to address the issue of illegal fishing gear by establishing local industries and making these available to fisher folks.
  • Another hindrance to the effective contribution of the fisheries department to food and nutrition is that neither the Department of Livestock nor the Department of Fisheries have a Food and Nutrition sector. As a result, the importance of consuming fish and livestock as a mechanism for dietary diversification is not emphasized. Funding to the departments is aimed at restocking for increased production rather than consumption. Fish traders rarely consume their fish, they would rather sale. While this may increase their purchasing power and earn them a living, it deprives them of the nutritional benefit of consuming fish.

 

By Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN)

Date: 19th February 2014

CSO SUN calls for the development of the fisheries sector for improved nutrition

Almost one-fifth of Zambia’s 753 000 km2 land area is covered with water, including rivers, lakes, and swamps. These water bodies have the potential to provide adequate amounts of fish for consumption in Zambia. We also note that 45 percent of children under five are undernourished. One of the many causes of malnutrition is inadequate intake of animal proteins required to achieve optimal health and essential elements for growth and development.

It is important to emphasize that to reduce malnutrition rates (and in particular stunting), a deliberate policy that supports diversification of agriculture is necessary; but what is more critical, is to have a deliberate policy that provides incentives for fisheries and livestock production to allow for promoting increased per capita animal protein intake in Zambia.

Fish for instance, is rich not only in protein, but also important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamin A, iron which are vital for health maintenance and growth. Fish is the second choice of animal protein after chicken and comprises a greater percentage of Zambia’s protein supply than it does in the rest of Africa and the developing world.

Despite the vast water bodies in Zambia, fish production is low; information from the department of fisheries shows that in the year 2012 Zambia recorded to have captured 80638 metric tones of fish, this number decreased to 75 187 metric tones in 2013. Fish production is embarrassingly low because our water resources are capable of producing more fish for consumption and export. Unfortunately, annual fish production has not been consistent and the quality of catch has deteriorated, resulting in most of the fish in the country being imported. The department of fisheries recorded that in 2012 Zambia imported 15,988 Metric tonnes of fish, and 28,666 Metric tonnes in 2013, almost a double increase.

To improve the contribution of fisheries to food and nutrition security, there are challenges that we need to address as a country. Among them are;

  • Inadequate funding  to the fisheries department – It is sad to note that in the past two years, between 2013 and 2014, funding to the fisheries department our analysis shows a reduction of 17%. It is justifiable to demand for increase in funding to fisheries because the fisheries sector in is an important source of good nutrition, employment, rural income, food security, import substitution and biodiversity.
  •  Fisheries in Zambia are characterised by having a very high, unsustainable fishing pressure and  rampant use of illegal, destructive fishing.  We call upon the government and the private sector to address the issue of illegal fishing gear by establishing local industries and making these available to fisher folks.
  • Another hindrance to the effective contribution of the fisheries department to food and nutrition is that neither the Department of Livestock nor the Department of Fisheries have a Food and Nutrition sector. As a result, the importance of consuming fish and livestock as a mechanism for dietary diversification is not emphasized. Funding to the departments is aimed at restocking for increased production rather than consumption. Fish traders rarely consume their fish, they would rather sale. While this may increase their purchasing power and earn them a living, it deprives them of the nutritional benefit of consuming fish.

 

By Zambia Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN)

[email protected]

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