Cairo, Egypt.- The closing of the Swiss-funded Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market Systems (STREAMS) and the Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate (YEAG) projects took place on 22 May in Cairo, Egypt in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Ezz El-Din Abu-Steit, vice Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mona Mehrez and Deputy Swiss Ambassador to Egypt, H.E. Adrian Hauri.
These projects have improved food and nutrition security and economic opportunities for low-income Egyptian citizens through sustainable intensification of the aquaculture sector and creation of job opportunities for youth via better management of fisheries resources. During the closing event, project results and future opportunities for the aquaculture and fisheries sectors were highlighted to beneficiaries and local partners.
Participants at the closing ceremony agreed that despite increasing production of fish in Egypt, further growth needs to take place in the upcoming years to meet growing market demand for fish.
The Deputy Swiss Ambassador to Egypt, Adrian Hauri, said: “The STREAMS and YEAG projects are cornerstones for the development of aquaculture and fisheries in Egypt. There is rising demand in the country for nutritious animal-based protein food. Value addition to lower-market-valued fish creates new opportunities for youth and women entrepreneurs. Both projects are positive models for food security and income generation.”
Nearly 4000 fish farmers were trained by WorldFish on best management practices, leading to the increase of farms’ profitability by 13%, reduced feed use by 20% and decreased water consumption by 10%. Increased profitability was mainly achieved through cost-savings brought on by more efficient feed management rather than increased production. This resulted in reduced environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient discharges. New technologies were also introduced to fish farming to multiply production and ensure better use of water resources and feed.
WorldFish introduced in-pond raceway system (IPRS) technology for the first time in the Middle East and Africa under the umbrella of the US Soya Bean Association (USSEC) and the STREAMS project. The new climate-smart culture system was tested and promoted among extension services providers and local aquaculture investors with technical support from USSEC.
More than 1000 women fish retailers benefitted from STREAMS project in Fayoum and Kafr El-Sheikh. Informal women retailers play a dominant role in supplying low-value fish products to low-income consumers in rural areas. Women were provided with equipment including ice boxes, tricycles, weight scales, cleaning equipment in addition to trainings on cooking and post-harvest practices, project management, and advocacy among others. As part of raising capital for women fish retailers, they were organized into saving groups. This resulted in the following total number of loans: 1,600,610 EGP in Fayoum and 1,172,220 EGP in Kafr El-Sheikh from 2017 until April 2019.
As part of improving the linkages between fish supply and demand chains, Asmak.net, an online market platform was established (www.asmaknet.com) with the aim of improving marketing and online extension services to reach all fish farmers nationwide, in coordination with the General Authority for Fisheries Resources Development (GAFRD).
With the community closure event of the YEAG project that took place early this week in Aswan, beneficiaries expressed their appreciation of the project, which gave them new skills to improve their businesses and livelihoods. The YEAG project benefitted 1976 fishermen, fish farmers, women fish retailers and young entrepreneurs. The project supported the creation of job opportunities for youth and women through the development of aquaculture and fisheries management practices, as well as improved post-harvest handling and fish processing practices in Lake Nasser.
Egypt’s political leadership is interested in filling the gap of rising demand on nutritious animal-based protein food. A committee was formed recently chaired by the Minister of Agriculture to develop lakes after a stakeholders’ agreement to implement a management plan of fisheries resources of Lake Nasser, an effort led by WorldFish under the auspices of the YEAG project. Establishing an independent authority for lakes supervised by the Prime Minister is being studied, a critical step that will help push forward the fisheries sector. The project introduced training for women in Aswan on fish leather tanning for the first time, a primary step for producing fish leather products.
Fish farming was introduced in Minya and Aswan under the STREAMS and YEAG projects to support fish supply to Upper Egypt inhabitants who have little intake of fish. 840 feddans in Wadi El Sa’ayda, Aswan that are not suitable for agriculture can be used in fish farming activities. Training has helped build capacities of local fish farmers and hatchery owners thus increasing their profitability and reducing production costs.
With the presence of donors, government representatives, local authorities, private sector investors and small and medium size farmers, women retailers and other stakeholders, WorldFish and SDC are keen on sharing lessons learned from their long experience in boosting the fisheries sector in Egypt and discuss the way forward of aquaculture and fisheries development in the country.
Harrison Karisa, WorldFish Country Director for Egypt and Nigeria said: “One of the major lessons learned is the fact that change can come quite quickly when the focus is on empowering the people. The success stories of aquaculture in new areas as exemplified by Mr. Nasser Abdelatty from Aswan are a clear testimony of what training and research can do. The support of the Swiss government for fisheries and aquaculture and more specifically in the area of Best Management Practices training and research, is one of the biggest contributions to aquaculture development in the country. More ground is yet to be covered in increasing efficiencies and policy support, but we are making good progress.”
The Swiss Embassy has supported the aquaculture sector in Egypt since 2011 with an initial study of the Egyptian aquaculture value chain funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) office. This first output of cooperation between WorldFish and SDC identified limiting factors hindering the aquaculture development in the country. Based on this study, SDC funded the first phase of the project called “Improving Employment and Income through Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS)” from December 2011 to November 2014, implemented by WorldFish and CARE International in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation with a total project fund of 4,339,081 USD.
After a successful first phase, SDC continued its support to Egyptian aquaculture by granting CHF 2,000,000 for the second phase of the project called “STREAMS” for 3 more years. In July 2017, SDC supported the extension of fisheries value-chain component of Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate for an additional 18 months ending in 2018, with a total budget of 586,000 USD.