Fisheries and aquaculture are an expanding sector in most of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). However, growth has been slow, and benefits do not always reach the communities who rely on these activities. In addition, poor fisheries and aquaculture practices can put stress on the marine environment, damaging the ecosystem and depleting fish populations.
The FISH4ACP programme was created to face these challenges. It is a global initiative supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture led by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States and implemented by FAO with funding from the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development.
In Cameroon, one of the twelve countries covered by the programme, FISH4ACP supports efforts to get shrimp - the main seafood export product of the country - back into business, promoting economic growth and jobs creation.
Among the potential beneficiaries of the programme, Anastasie Obama leads Defuscam, a food processing cooperative in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé. “I’ve started in food processing when I was very young,” says Anastasie who is busy smoking shrimp outside her store. She has been running her own business in the city for decades, however the revenues were not very substantial.
I used to cut wood at home and do the smoking. When I got married, I came here. My husband liked it very much. He always encouraged me.
“With the little means we have, we sell and make a little profit,” she explains. “If we had some capital we would get a cold chamber. We would stock and only smoke when we had an order.”
The programme pays special attention to small and medium-sized businesses as the one owned by Anastasie because of their potential to stimulate inclusive growth and bolster food security.
In particular, the initiative aims at improving the productivity and competitiveness of Cameroon’s shrimp sector in a sustainable manner to boost local incomes and meet domestic demand, while promoting access to more profitable export markets.
To reach these objectives, FISH4ACP aims at enhancing producers access to markets; ensuring they enjoy decent working conditions and guarding against the over-exploitation of stocks.
Empowering people, and in particular women like Anastasie across Africa is the key to make a difference in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development, while preserving the environment for the future generations.