Amidst the rising cost of food items, some experts are advising the public to patronize small fish like anchovies, atlantic bumper, and African moonfish to save income, improve nutrition and ensure food security.
They say patrons of small fish benefit from some micronutrients through the consumption of parts like the bones which big fish consumers dispose of.
Professor Charles Tortoe, the Acting Director of the Food Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a closing symposium of the European Union funded project called LEAP-agri ‘SmallFishFood’.
The four-year project, which was implemented in Ghana, Norway, Germany, Kenya, Netherlands and Uganda ensured that knowledge on sustainable utilisation of small fish for food security and nutrition was up-scaled to Africa and worldwide.
Prof. Tortoe said, “With the changing times and difficulties of post COVID-19, it is time to go back to improve on the processing of these small fish, add value and utilize it,” he said.
Professor Jeppe Kolding, Leader of the Project stated that the research conducted showed that small fish could help reduce malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency.
It improves cognitive development and immune systems for infants and improve public health for pregnant women and low-income populations.
He said harvesting small fish species from both marine and freshwater fisheries was the most energy and cost-efficient human food production system.
“Small fish have the least environmental impacts in terms of greenhouse gases, water use, fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides compared to any other human food production systems,” he added
According to Prof. Kolding, opting for small fishes ensured a more balanced harvest of the aquatic food chain leading to increased production of fish and less harvest induced distortion of the aquatic ecosystem structure.
Mrs Amy Atter, a Senior Research Scientist, said the project’s technical officials together with fish processors designed an improved sun-drying equipment for small fishes to enhance the processing chain.
She stated that through the project, it was realised that the traditional processing of small fish that did not follow best hygienic processes but said issues of food safety and quality had improved.
Mrs Atter said some fish processors received training on hygienic practices and value-addition technologies that had enabled them to address some of the major concerns such as post-harvest losses and increased income.
She noted that there was the need to support fish processors with technology, improving the smoking ovens and procedures, for instance.
Fish processors, she said, needed to be trained in hygienic practices and offered the requisite infrastructure.
Highlighting the recommendations, Prof. Joseph Yaro, a Professor of Human Geography at the Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana called for the need to recognize the benefits of small fish in fisheries, aquaculture, health, social and economic policies.
He said there was the urgent need to enact explicit food security and nutrition policies that promoted the consumption and utilization of small fish especially among low-income groups.
By Albert Ansah,GNA