Small-scale fishmongers in the fisheries sector of Liberia have reasons to smile again as the people and government of Japan have expanded their support to the country’s fisheries sector with funding worth US$75,000.00.
Liberia’s fisheries sector provides about 65% of the national animal protein need of the citizens, contributes to approximately 12% of the agriculture GDP; as well as provides direct employment opportunity through small-scale fisheries to more than 33,000 full-time fishers, fishmongers, and processors living along the coast, 60% of them women.
However, despite the significant contribution the fisheries sector makes to food security and employment, activities of the sector are challenged by poor infrastructure and equipment, low processing and minimal value addition capacity, as well as weak access to markets.
According to a statement presented by the Director-General of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), Emma Glassco, the additional funding is expected to mitigate the Coronavirus effect on the sector by further upgrading the processing capacity of fishmongers, the majority of whom are women.
Disclosure of the funding was made by Japanese Ambassador HIMENO Tsutomu at the Ministry of Agriculture recently while the diplomat and officials of the Ministry including Madam Glassco were in a meeting.
“The government of Liberia is gratified in the continuous support being rendered by the people and government of Japan in providing support to the sector to improve food security,” she said.
Madam Glassco said the project was redesigned to meet the most pressing issues affecting the fishing communities.
“It was structured to support Fish hygiene, handling, conservation, and transformation kits in keeping with the Global fight against the Pandemic addressing the component which supported food safety and poverty eradication, value chain enhancement and capacity development of fishmongers,” she said.
“For the first time, we have seen specific intervention in fresh fish handling, processing, and distribution. The supply of equipment, which includes 2 tricycles, solar-powered iceboxes, insulated fish boxes, etc as fresh fish handling is an excellent venture. We believe this must be extended to all coastal counties. It will be very significant in reducing post-harvest loss and increase the income of fishmongers, and will further reduce pressure on the resource base,” she added.
She also said that the project will meet the needs of about 96 fish processors and fishmongers, mainly females. “This will have a major socio-economic impact on the beneficiaries’ lives and their dependents,” said Madam Glassco.
Meanwhile, Madam Glassco reflected that in 2009, Japan funded a fisheries project in Liberia under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures and the voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small scale Fisheries and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea worth US$250,000 and implemented by the FAO through NaFAA.
According to her, the project was approved in 2019 and provided support to the government of Liberia in strategic areas such as the Confederation of national authorities to the Agreement on Port State Measures; Strengthening of the national authorities and other key stakeholders to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing; andSupporting key stakeholders to implement the voluntary guidelines for securing sustainable small scale Fisheries in the context of food security and poverty eradication.
She used the opportunity to thank FAO for the implementation of the project, stating that it was a great milestone despite the global pandemic that has hit the whole world. She acknowledged the government of Japan for the donation of fishing boats for artisanal fishermen to improve their catch capacity.
“We extend our sincere appreciation to the Government and People of Japan for their continuous support to the people of Liberia. We are expected to receive more than 400 outboard Yamaha engines for fishing boats for our artisanal fishermen which will transition them from peddling canoes to more semi-industrial fishing activities that will improve their catch capacity. This will be a significant milestone in transforming their lives. We will forever remain grateful.”
The NaFAA boss also disclosed that Japan has further pledged additional support to Liberia’s fisheries sector in the amount of US$ 3 million dollars.
“We are pleased to note this. As you are aware, Mr. Ambassador, Liberia has submitted a proposal for the construction of a fishing village in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. We hope this amount can be considered for the Financing of that project, as feasibility studies were conducted by a team of experts from Japan two years ago,” she said.