Comesa calls for strengthening of SMEs regional fish trading
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has called for the strengthening of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) participation in regional production and trading of fish as part of strategies to growing the aquaculture value chain.
The Comesa Secretariat, through the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP), is already working on strategies to improve and strengthen SMEs involvement in fisheries and fish product value chains in the regional and international markets.
This will be done through sustained supplies, improved trade efficiencies, enhanced value chains and quality of products, said the 21 member bloc in a latest update.
To actualise this, Comesa said the Secretariat last month conducted a regional dialogue meeting on enhancing the participation of fisheries producers in sustainable regional and global value chains from the private sector small and medium scale group.
Specifically, it said the regional dialogue was meant to strengthen the capacity of producers, producer organizations and other value chain actors to enhance competitiveness, value addition and market access, identify major challenges and agree on the way forward to support small and medium-scale fish producers to improve their competitiveness and market access.
During the engagement, delegates also agreed on the importance of establishing intra-regional fish supply chains and linking small and medium-scale fish producers especially women, youth and the vulnerable groups of the society to regional and international markets.
According to Comesa, participants from the public and private sector made presentations and further discussed that women do participate in all parts of fish food systems.
However, these are most visible in post-harvest processing and trade of fish but are vital to the region’s food and nutrition security.
Comesa has indicated that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and accompanying responses had resulted in substantial disruptions to demand, production, distribution and labour in fisheries, aquaculture and food systems. These disruptions have severely impacted women processors and traders, it said.
RECAMP is funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and is focusing on enhancing the competitiveness and market access for three target value chains, which include horticulture, agro-processing and leather and leather products.
Director of Industry and Agriculture at Comesa, Mrs Providence Mavubi, has stressed the importance of fisheries and aquaculture in ensuring a consistent supply of animal protein in the form of fish and fish products.
Regional experts have also called for the stepping up of efforts to promote domestic and regional trade, by enhancing competitiveness of products, facilitation/smoothening of cross-border trade as well as ensuring wider participation and empowerment of women in the fish trade sector across the region.