[Marxism] fish food in Africa
schaffer at optonline.net
Mon Aug 29 10:19:12 MDT 2005
Published online: 24 August 2005; | doi:10.1038/4361077a
Africa urged to create more fish farms
Experts warn of imminent collapse in stocks.
Andreas von Bubnoff
Diminishing returns: two hundred million sub-Saharan Africans rely on
fish for nutrition, but stocks may not keep up with rising populations.
Fisheries experts are this week meeting the leaders of 25 African
countries in Abuja, Nigeria, to call for urgent investment in
aquaculture across the continent.
Africa's rapidly rising population means that it will need to produce
significantly more fish to provide the same amount of food per head as
it does now. But wild fish stocks in the continent are already on the
verge of destruction.
The warning comes from the World Fish Center, an international research
organization based in Malaysia, which has carried out a series of
investigations into the state of Africa's fisheries. It finds that
Africa is the only region in the world where per capita fish supplies
In Africa, only Egypt has developed aquaculture fast enough to match
population growth, says Daniel Jamu of the World Fish Center. "The rest
of Africa still has a long way to go."
The situation is especially serious in sub-Saharan Africa, where the per
capita fish supply dropped from 9 kilograms a year in 1973 to 6.6
kilograms a year in 2001. Worldwide, that number increased from 12 to 16
kilograms a year over the same time period.
Fish is one of the most important sources of nutrition for Africans — it
is much cheaper than meat, and almost 30% of the 690 million people in
sub-Saharan Africa rely on it as the main part of their diet.
A third of sub-Saharan Africans are already undernourished: vitamin A
deficiency contributes to the deaths of around half a million children
each year and up to 20,000 women die annually from iron deficiency.
Doing nothing about fish production would make these problems much
worse, says Patrick Dugan, deputy director-general of the World Fish Center.
To maintain current consumption levels as the population rises,
sub-Saharan Africa will need 32% more fish by 2020, says Dugan. Wild
fish stocks could collapse if fished any harder — in some areas, such as
Lake Malawi, that is already happening. So most of the increase will
have to come from fish farms. This means that sub-Saharan Africa would
need to produce 3.6 times as many fish from aquaculture by 2020 as it
does now — which would require the construction of thousands of
At least eight of the governments attending the Abuja meeting, including
Kenya, Uganda and Malawi, are expected to sign a declaration on 25
August calling for help from the international community. Dugan says
that US$30 million every five years should be enough to support an
annual 10% increase in fish-farm output. The idea is that manual labour
should be sufficient to dig the ponds, and the fish living in them can
be fed with organic waste from the farmers' gardens.
The United States, Canada, Britain, Norway, Germany and Japan are
already supporting similar efforts in countries such as Niger, Malawi
and Uganda, says Richard Mkandawire, agricultural adviser for the New
Partnership for Africa's Development, a continent-wide development
initiative set up by the African Union. But he says he hopes that the
conference will lead to increased efforts. "We see this meeting as a
turning point for the revival of African fisheries as well as
aquaculture development," he says.
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