Development of robust aquaculture is key to boosting food and nutrition security in Africa in the light of rapid population growth and disruptions of agriculture systems linked to climate change, scientists said on Wednesday evening.
The scientists who spoke at a virtual forum organized by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, which is based in Ghana, said aquaculture has the ability to transform rural livelihoods in the continent.
Venny Mziri Mwainge, a researcher at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute said that investing in aquaculture could shield African countries from extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition escalated by climate change.
“Aquaculture could offer a solution to food security challenges in Africa occasioned by population pressure, climate change and loss of soil fertility,” said Mwainge.
According to Mwainge, aquaculture contributes about 15 percent of total fish production in Kenya as the government prioritizes policy enactment, training and infrastructure development to spur its growth.
She said that African governments should act on emerging threats to aquaculture that include a spread of disease-causing pathogens and skills gaps among small-holder farmers.
Zizi Kpadeh, a senior official at the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority of Liberia said that freshwater fish farming in Africa has potential for growth subject to friendly regulations, adequate funding and public awareness.
According to Kpadeh, sharing of best practices, market linkages and regular training of small-holder farmers will spur the growth of aquaculture in Africa and tackle rural poverty.
Martin Tjipute, a researcher at the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at Sam Nujoma Marine and Coastal Resources Research Center in Namibia said that harnessing indigenous knowledge is key to empowering small-holder farmers in their backyard.
Tjipute said the continent should prioritize enhanced monitoring of diseases that are a threat to the growth of aquaculture besides training farmers on improved water quality at the fish ponds to curb the spread of pathogens.