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Contribution of Fisheries to Food and Nutrition Security in the SADC region (April 2019)

Originally published


1 Executive Summary

Introduction: Fish can play an important role in improving Southern Africa’s food security and nutritional status, as more than 100 million people in the region eat fish regularly. Although the region has made considerable strides towards attaining improved nutrition status, the number of food insecure people in the region is still alarmingly high, as 38.4 million people were estimated to be food insecure in the 2016/17 consumption year representing 11.5 % of the total population. Twelve of the 15 Member states fall among the top 50 countries with high prevalence of undernourishment; and only 5 (Eswatini, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe) are on track to eradicate stuntedness among children under the age of five years.

Enhancing to access to fish and products to address nutritional and food needs of the region would imply increase fish supply to countries. This negative trade balance helps the region to attain an overall healthy fish supply estimated at about 2.9 Million tons, considering exports, imports and 13% of fish production used as non-food. However, it is clear that the region’s demand far outweighs its local production. Therefore, for strategic reasons, it might be important for the region to attain some level of selfsufficiency put in place strategies to enhance production.

Pathways of Contribution of Fish to Food and Nutrition Security: The contribution of fish to food and nutrition security is in two ways, either as a direct source of nutrients or as a source of income with which fishing communities can use to buy other types of food. While sources of protein intake in many SADC countries is predominantly animal ,fish and fisheries products have the potential to have a significant impact on food security and good nutrition in the region. The current per capita consumption of fish in the region is pegged at 11.3kg, which is way lower than the recommended global per capita consumption of 19kg. Except for Mauritius, Seychelles and Angola, per capita fish consumption for all other SADC countries remains grossly below the global average and also below the average for Africa of 9.9kg/capita/year. In terms of income contribution, the fisheries and aquaculture sector employs a total of about 3.3 million people, equivalent of about 1 % of the SADC population. Noteworthy is the fact that in 2016, overall, women accounted for nearly 14 percent of all people directly engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture primary sector. At a macroeconomic level, the importance of the sector is reflected owing to the fact that fisheries and aquaculture sectors account for an estimated 3.5% of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 9% of the region’s agriculture GDP.

Role of Fish Trade: The role of trade, especially informal trade, further reveals that fish and food nutrition in the security can be achieved through improving the flow of fish products in the region and addressing the challenges that limit the flow of the fish products.

Role of Regional Value Chains: Value chain participation is a crucial element of the Industrialization Strategy because it has the potential to extend production possibilities and enable cross-border utilization of natural and human resources of the region.