Gender Inclusive Financing for Scaling up Improved Fish Processing Technologies in Malawi
Fisheries and aquaculture employ 800 million people globally and provide 3.1 billion people with 20% of their animal protein. In Malawi, fish consumption contributes approximately 70% of animal protein and is a good source of essential fatty acids and micronutrients (Government of Malawi, 2017). Small fish species in particular, when eaten whole, are rich in calcium, vitamin A, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are more effectively absorbed than those obtained from other sources and they are essential to cognitive and physical development.
However, declining fish stocks and high post-harvest losses — estimated at 34% — are threatening food and income security. Evidence from “Combining post-harvest fish value chains and social change interventions in Zambia and Malawi”, a project from the first phase of the Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF-1) initiative, demonstrated that improved fish smoking kilns and solar tent dryers are environmentally friendly, effective, and economically viable fish processing technologies. However, scaling efforts were hampered by various challenges, including low access to capital by women and youth; lack of certification, which limited market opportunities; and limited packaging improvements for the processed fish.
In this second phase of CultiAF, strategies will be tested for scaling up fish solar tent dryers and improved fish smoking kilns, particularly targeting women and youth. The goal is to improve the food and income security of artisanal fish processors and other value chain actors in the fisheries sector. Strategies will involve innovative financing from sources including commercial banks, village savings and loan associations, and microfinance organizations; bulking; improved packaging; and links to formal markets. The project will assess these strategies for their cost effectiveness and their capacity to reach many people, especially women and youth. Additionally, the project will evaluate the impact of the model on the reduction of post-harvest losses, women’s economic empowerment, and fish availability and consumption.