The Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Ministry has taken delivery of some fish insulated containers from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) –Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP) for onward distribution to women fish processors in the country. Each of the 20 insulated containers that cost over GHC 3,000 would enable the fish processors to properly preserve wholesome fishes for both domestic market and exporting purposes. The insulated containers, which are made of fibre glass, were manufactured in Ghana.
The processors are expected to use ice to layer the fish in the insulated containers to keep the fish from getting spoiled. Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, Minister of Fisheries who received the containers in Accra, commended the USAID for working together with Ghana to promote and improve the fishing sector, especially, fish handling and processing, which had been a big issue for the fishers.
She said: “Government embraced this gesture whole-heartedly because it will help the women to preserve their fishes”. She said the gesture was a laudable idea which would help in the promotion of sustainable fisheries management, and therefore the collaboration of the USAID was very welcoming.
The Minister noted that more of the containers would be sought through the collaboration so many more fish processors could have access to the containers to preserve their fishes. She said so far, a number of fish processors in 12 fishing communities, including Bortianor-Tsokomey, Kokrobite, Elmina, Keta, Ketu, Mamford, Winneba, Apam, Sekondi-Takoradi, Moree, and Tema have been trained on the proper usage of the containers.
She indicated that the containers would be distributed to the communities in twos and ones but afterwards, more would be acquired from the USAID at a fairly affordable cost for the women processors to benefit from the technology. Dr Margaret Ottah Atikpo, Post-Harvest Fisheries Specialist, USAID –Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project, who led officials from the USAID to present the first batch of containers to the Fisheries Minister, said the insulated containers were being given out for free under the USAID-SFMP programme to help train and educate the fish processors on the use of ice in preserving fresh wholesome fish.
“So the distribution of the containers would involve officials from the USAID demonstrating to the women how to layer the fish alternatively with ice, because what they do is, they just dump the fish in any container they have and then they break block ice on top of the fish and then it’s the cool water which sips down and sometimes the fish deteriorate before processing.
“So normally it is good to use flake ice so that it has more contact with the fish since the block ice does not have much contact with the fish”. Mr Justic Odoi, Representative of the USAID, commended the government for making all the efforts to improve the fishing sector. He said USAID on its part had been supporting Ghana manage the fishing sector for more than five years now and therefore know about the challenges in the sector.
He said fish processing was such a critical aspect of the chain and therefore was hopeful that the insulated containers would be embraced by the women processors to aid them in processing wholesome fishes for the market.