The country fish production should at least triple to narrow the per capita consumption with regional standard.
Currently, the country has a potential to produce 94,000 tones of fish from major fish sources like lakes and dams, while the consumption per person is about half a kilogram which is far behind when compared with regional figures.
According to Hussein Abegaz, Fishery Development Directorate Director, to narrow the differential the country ought to up production by at least three times.
He said that market linkage and lack of modern production process is a challenge for the sector. He added that the fishing, processing and provision to the market need a proper streamlined chain which the country does not have, as of yet.
Hussein explained that in order to improve this, the fishery quality control regulation which is on its draft stage shall guide to serve as a solution for the sector development and marketing.
“Currently traders do not have processing centers like other countries. They are taking the processed fish meat from fishers, thus the process hinders the country from utilizing its resources properly,” he added.
Hussein told Capital that the sector receives little attention by government bodies particularly in regions, “at the central government level, there is a structure but it is not seen in the regions which is one of the challenges for the sector development.”
He said that if the country for instance targets to expand the per person consumption to be two kgs, the production shall also be upped “we have to produce at least 300,000 tons that shall be attained while the current potential is at 94,000 tons. Because the country has huge and suitable potential for the sector development; so to meet the demand we shall develop the fishery sector with new and modern schemes like aquaculture like how other countries did on the aim fill their demand.”
Experts said that expanding fishery is crucial for food sufficiency and diets that the country targets to attain besides job and economic contribution.
The production at natural water resources like lake potentials has reduced due to man made pressures, but the sector is promising due to the come up of new dams.
There are 200 species in the country of that 11 are exotic and 40 endemic.
Aschalew Lakew, Director of National Fisheries and Aquatic Life Research Center at Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, said that of the total, six of the species are commercially important but it is not meaning that some others are not marketable. For instance in Gambella over 20 types of fishes are demanded by the consumer.
Ethiopia is producing 60,000 tons of fish every year, while the potential is 94,000 but this is not inclusive of the latest dams that are constructed for different purposes. In overview, the country has allocated at least 77 million birr for fish products import.
According to Hussein, up to 85 percent of the total production comes from the rift valley lakes and Lake Tana.
Aschalew, who is also a senior researcher, said that Ethiopia is suitable for fishery.
Researches indicated that the fish per capita consumption in Ethiopia is about 0.5 kg whereas the East African region is 9.9 kg.
Lack of coordination for the sector development including the development of new dam projects is stated as a problem for the sector’s poor development.
Formal rules and regulation in fishery, lack of experts, feeding, and technology and financing are also stated as a gap that are seen in the sector.
Vitalizing existing lakes, adequate dam development, and aquaculture development in different aspects including producing skilled labour and private sector intervention, and market chain and standard production have been designed in the ten year development plan.
Yared Mulat, Engineer at Ethiopian Construction Design and Supervision Works Corporation, said that the new water projects like dams should have included the fishery development in their design stage and actual developments.
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