By Olimatou Coker
A five-day sub-regional training that seeks to enhance capacity of youth and women for employment and employability in aquaculture is underway in Bakau.
Being organised by the Department of Fisheries in partnership with FAO, the training attracted 25 participants drawn from The Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana.
It is being held under the auspices of a three-year FAO funded technical cooperation programme called ‘support to enhancing the capacity of youth and women for employment in aquaculture,’ and a sub-regional project titled ‘creating agribusiness employment opportunities for youth through sustainable aquaculture system and cassava value chains in West Africa’.
The initiative seeks to enhance employment and wealth creation, reduce poverty and irregular migration.
The deputy permanent secretary of technical Ministry of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, Omar Gibba, said one surest way to help people help feed hthemselves for a lifetime is to not only to teach them how to fish, but also how to cultivate fish using the FAO funded programme.
“I was able to realise that aquaculture is not only about providing food directly but also provide income for the farmers to improve their livelihood. This programme is one way to doing that.”
FAO country representative, Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, said aquaculture, probably the fastest growing food processing sector, now accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world’s food fish.
“The overall growth in aquaculture production remains relatively strong owing to the increasing demand for food fish among most producing countries,” she disclosed.
Kalala said according to FAO statistics, fisheries and aquaculture is a major sector for food security and nutrition, with global production of fish, crustaceans, molluscs and other aquatic animals continuing to grow and reached 170.9 million tonnes in 2016.
“Allow me to mention that, the most recent official statistics indicate that 59.6 million people were engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture in 2016, with 19.3 million people engaged in Aquaculture and 40.3 million people engaged in fisheries. The proportion of those employed in capture fisheries decreased from 83 percent in 1990 to 68 in 2016, while the proportion of those employed in aquaculture correspondingly increased from 17 to 32 percent, respectively.”
According to Katepa-Kalala, the ongoing workshop is intended to enhance capacity of both officers and farmers in developing business acumen in order to facilitate the transformation of aquaculture in Africa into an economically vibrant and sustainable sector.
She said: “Specifically, the workshop will help the participants to assess the profitability level and financial wealth of aquaculture farms to help make investment decisions.”
Madam Kalala thanked the government for accepting to host the training.
“I wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm FAO’s commitment to deepening it’s collaboration and cooperation with the ministry of fisheries, and the government and the people of The Gambia.