The Swiss project “Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market System - STREAMS”, which was presented in Cairo on the 4th February 2016, seeks to increase the participation of Egypt’s underprivileged socioeconomic segments in the country’s fast-growing aquaculture sector while also making fish more affordable and accessible. Increased availability and consumption of fish can reduce Egypt’s high rates of childhood stunting, undernutrition and obesity.
The three-year STREAMS project will assist fish farmers, fish traders and retailers across seven Egyptian governorates: Kafr El Sheikh, Beheira, Sharkia, Fayoum, Port Said, Minya and Beni Suef. The funding allocated for this project is two million Swiss Francs.
STREAMS is to focus on three goals, the first of which is to train fish farmers on improved management practices in existing fish farming zones and increase access to the Abbassa improved strain of Nile tilapia, a faster growing variety of the main fish species stocked in Egyptian fish farms.
The second goal is to promote aquaculture practices in geographical areas that are not yet engaged in this sector, with a focus on small-scale and integrated systems.
The third is to enhance marketing systems for aquaculture products through support for retailers, the provision of market information and the establishment of a certification scheme for farmed Egyptian tilapia.
“Since 2011, Swiss investments in the Egyptian fishing sector have increased income and employment in the sector and have provided the population with healthier food at low cost. The success of this programme is a solid base for more efforts to strengthen the Egyptian aquaculture market and to contribute to food security,” says Markus Leitner, Ambassador of Switzerland to Egypt.
WordlFish notes that in a nation where approximately 25 per cent of the population are resource-poor (according to the 2013 Statistics of the UN World Food Programme), fish is an important part of the Egyptian diet, providing essential protein and micronutrients. The development of aquaculture, however, has been constrained by a restrictive regulatory environment, poor post-harvest and supply chain handling, fish health issues and licensing arrangements favouring medium-scale businesses.
The STREAMS project is intended to improve market standards in fish distribution systems and to introduce testing frameworks in order to provide definitive evidence that Egyptian farmed fish is safe. Moreover, STREAMS should pilot-test small-scale aquaculture and integrated aquaculture-agriculture systems and help aquaculture producer organisations to advocate for policy changes.
According to WorldFish, STREAMS builds on gains already realised through the Swiss-Funded Improving Employment and Incomes through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project (2011-2015), also led by WorldFish Egypt in partnership with CARE International. IEIDEAS saw approximately 2,400 individual fish farmers trained in best management practices, and 109 million fry of the faster growing Abbassa –the improved strain of Nile tilapia –distributed to 459 fish farmers.
The IEIDEAS project leaders could also gain experience with women fish retailers, which will be scaled up to the STREAM project. “Our aim at STREAMS is to facilitate the creation of a supporting environment that empowers marginalised women, maintains their rights and builds their capacities,” explains Hazem Fahmy, Country Director of CARE International in Egypt.
According to statistics issued by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), agricultural and fishing activities comprised the largest segment of workers engaged in Egypt’s economic activities, at 6.5 million people or 26.5 per cent of the workforce, in 2015.