The fish-processing sector in Aswan, Egypt currently consists of around 60 plants that focus mainly on salting, refrigeration and filleting.
With one of the highest unemployment rates in Upper Egypt and a growing, countrywide, demand for fish, Aswan’s fish-processing sector is ripe for development.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)-funded Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate project aims to foster entrepreneurship and promote growth in horticulture, livestock, and fisheries value chains. WorldFish is leading the fisheries component of the project and aims to increase employment in the Lake Nasser area by improving fish-processing and fisheries management while also introducing aquaculture.
Under the project, WorldFish organized a training program on fish processing and packaging at the Food Technology Research Institute (FTRI) which is affiliated with the Agriculture Research Center (ARC) and the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture. Attendees included fish processors, fishermen, traders and owners of fish processing plants.
The five-day training program was divided into lectures and field visits. Lectures covered fish preparation, processing (salting and smoking), good handling practices, packaging, as well as different fish products, technologies and equipment. Trainees also learned to transform fish waste into a concentrated protein powder to be used as feed.
Field visits included a visit to a fish smoking factory, a fish salting facility and a factory exporting fish.
Ayman Abdel-Reheem, Production Manager at Aswan Company for Fish Processing (SWANA), spoke of how he learned that his method of filleting fish after thawing and then freezing again was reducing both the taste and the nutritional value of the fish. The workshop taught an alternative method of filleting the fish before freezing thereby minimizing loss of taste and nutrients.
Fish trader, Ismail Hagagy notes: “We saw how good storage practices can extend the shelf life of salted and fresh fish. Now, we know the weaknesses in our methods and how to enhance our practices with simple interventions like the use of spices in storing fish and the benefits of quick freezing to kill bacteria.”
Dr Olfat Anwar, Fisheries and Aquaculture Component Leader at the Youth Employment in Aswan Governorate project, says that feedback from the trainees will inform the development of more in-depth courses featuring practical sessions on packaging systems, salting procedures and the use of waste material are planned to enhance fish processors production.
In a nation where more than 25% of the people are resource-poor (WFP 2013), fish is an important part of a healthy diet providing essential protein and micronutrients. Consumption of fish is on the rise; per capita consumption rose from 8.5 kilograms (kg)/person/year in 1996 to 15.4 kg/person/year in 2008 (WorldFish 2014). A recent study undertaken in the WorldFish-led IEIDEAS project shows that household spending on fish alone ranged from 5.4% to 6.7% of total food expenditures.
Together with partner CARE, WorldFish will continue to create opportunities and promote entrepreneurship in Aswan’s growing fisheries and aquaculture sector.