Mkinga district, located in Tanga region in the northeast corner of Tanzania, is one of the fishing communities supported by the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission – Nairobi Convention Partnership Project. The project is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and implemented in Tanzania by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MLF).
Through November 2022, FAO engaged two consultants to conduct a livelihoods and value chains study in Mkinga district to come up with options to improve fisheries value chains and livelihoods of people in fishing communities. The consultants, together with FAO and the MLF conducted Focus-Group Discussions (FGDs) with community members, local government authorities, and village and Beach Management Units (BMUs) leaders in nine different villages to gather information on socio-economic constraints and existing income-generating opportunities. The FGDs involved fishing and non-fishing stakeholders from men, women, and youth groups. The study also examined market access, pricing, product quality, and packaging aspects, which affects the value chain and the livelihoods of the fishing communities.
“This is the first time that a value chain analysis has been conducted in these villages and BMUs,” said Mrs. Oliva Mkumbo, FAO’s National Fisheries Sector Coordinator. “The main goal of the study is to analyse alternative livelihoods and gender needs linked with the fisheries and ecosystem management plans and propose new/improved products or services that can improve the fishing communities and livelihoods,” she said.
Buy and sell
According to the study’s preliminary findings, men, women, and youth in Zingibari village are involved in fishing-related activities. Women earn a living by purchasing and selling fresh or fried/boiled fish, as well as working as potters who transport fish from the landing site to auction and processing sites.
“One trader told me that if he didn’t transport the fish in ice, it would spoil,” said Dr. Victoria Moshy, the National Fisheries Livelihoods Expert. “He cannot return the spoiled fish back to the village as he would have to sell it to dry fish processors for a low price to avoid losing everything,” she said.
According to the study, there is only one person in the entire village who has two refrigerators, which is insufficient to cater for everyone. In addition, power outages are frequent. Other options for cold rooms include purchasing ice from Tanga town but doing so sometimes results in a significant loss particularly if there isn’t any fish available that day.
Strengthening access to markets
The main challenges identified by the groups of men and women in Kwale village is the limited knowledge of seaweed farming, limited access to markets, and lack of capital to expand their businesses and buy more seeds and ropes for seaweed farming. “The women involved in seaweed farming could benefit from training in the processing of seaweed value added products such as soap, as well as links to markets, including Dar es Salaam,” said Ms. Margaret Alfanies, National Value Chain and Business Plan Expert. “Buyers are available, but they tend to set low prices, so women do not see the benefits of seaweed farming,” she said.
“We cannot leave the burden to the fishing communities,” said Mr. Tumaini Chambua, Senior Fisheries Officer at the MLF and Project Focal Point. “We are grateful to FAO and Sida’s support, and we will all work together to manage fisheries resources and ensure that we sustainably utilize resources, provide trainings, raise awareness, build infrastructure, and implement laws and policies,” he said.
The SWIOFC-NC project collaborates with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and the Environment Division at the Vice President’s Office in Tanzania to demonstrate how a joint approach to fisheries and environmental management can improve sustainable livelihoods for communities that depend on fisheries and other coastal resources. Tanzania is one of three countries in the Western Indian Ocean region where the project is supporting activities to restore and promote sustainable use of coastal fisheries and environments in two local sites, Mkinga district and the Pemba Channel Conservation Area.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.