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FAO roots for vibrant aquaculture to boost food security in Africa

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Robust aquaculture in Africa is key to alleviating hunger and malnutrition amid declining crop yield linked to climate change and shrinking arable land, a senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official said on Tuesday.

Manuel Barange, director of fisheries and aquaculture department at FAO, said during the inaugural Blue Economy Summit underway in Nairobi that incentivizing African small-holder farmers to engage in fish farming will boost food security and their incomes.

“Small-scale fisheries play a vital role in securing nutritious food and incomes for low income groups. It can be scaled up in Africa but there should be supportive policies and infrastructure,” said Barange.

Barange noted that fisheries and aquaculture are a critical component of the blue economy whose growth could contribute to food security and shared prosperity in Africa.

The FAO official said that aquaculture in Africa has potential for growth subject to state incentives to ensure small-holder farmers have access to fingerlings, capital, storage facilities and markets.

“For small-scale fisheries sector to work, governments must streamline the value chains to minimize post-harvest losses,” said Barange, adding that demand for fish has gone up across Africa as communities diversify dietary habits.

According to the FAO, an estimated 50 percent of fish consumed globally that translates into 80 million tonnes is harvested from the farms.

Barange said that FAO and partners have supported the establishment of dozens of fresh water hatcheries across the East African region that have transformed livelihood of small-holder farmers.

Jackline Uku, a researcher with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, said that aquaculture has gained traction in Sub-Saharan African region as an alternative to food crops given its enormous nutritional and financial benefits.

“We need to make our aquaculture sustainable by investing in research, infrastructure, farmers training and better market linkages,” said Uku.

She noted that Kenyan counties have revolutionized aquaculture through enactment of friendly policies alongside provision of subsidized fingerlings to small-scale farmers. 



Climate resilient tourism key to transforming coastal livelihoods in Africa: experts

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- African governments should invest in tourism projects that promote climate resilience to ensure coastal communities are shielded from extreme weather events, poverty, hunger and disease, experts said on Monday.

The experts attending the blue economy conference taking place in Nairobi, stressed the need for governments and investors to pay attention to the health of marine ecosystem while constructing tourism facilities to ensure livelihoods of communities living along Africa’s coastlines are not disrupted.

“We need to develop our tourism sector in a green and sustainable manner to ensure marine resources that support millions of livelihoods are protected,” Joe Okudo, Kenya’s tourism principal secretary said on the sidelines of the blue economy summit.

Kenya is hosting the world’s inaugural blue economy conference that has attracted around 10,000 participants from 183 countries to explore innovative ways to harness ocean and inland fresh water resources to spur growth.

About ten Heads of State and Government drawn mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa as well as ministers, industry executives and scientists are attending the three-day event.

Okudo noted that tourism, shipping and aquaculture are strategic pillars of the blue economy whose growth is key to tackle Africa’s hunger, poverty, disease and ecological crisis.

“Moving forward, sound environmental practices should be embedded in the tourism sector that is heavily dependent on marine ecosystem to thrive,” said Okudo, adding that Kenya has developed policies to ensure investments in beach tourism promote conservation of mangrove forests.

African governments should factor the sustainability needs of coastal communities during utilization of marine resources to grow tourism, fisheries and shipping.

Rodolfo Lacy, director in the environment directorate at Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said that development of tourism should be devoid of ocean pollution to help protect livelihoods of fishermen.

“The tourism infrastructure in Africa should be enhanced to ensure it withstands adverse effects of climate change like sea level rise,” said Rodolfo, adding that governments and industry have an obligation to protect marine resources during offshore oil drilling and construction of tourist resorts along African coastlines.

African countries should replicate global best practices to green the tourism sector and ensure economic benefits trickle down to coastal communities.

Douglas Wallace, an ocean scientist, said that investment in research and public awareness is key to promoting climate resilience tourism in a continent with a huge repository of untapped marine resources.


China to support global efforts to revitalize growth of blue economy: envoy

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- China will rally behind global efforts to promote growth of blue economy in line with sustainable development agenda, said a Chinese government official on Monday.

Xu Jinghu, special representative of the Chinese government on African affairs told the sustainable blue economy conference under way in Nairobi that Beijing has supported global efforts to boost growth of blue economy through improved governance and sharing of knowledge and expertise to strengthen conservation of marine ecosystem.

“China calls for a blue economy partnership and the resolution of ocean issues through cooperation,” said Xu.

Kenya is hosting the first ever blue economy conference to take place in Africa that has drawn more than 10,000 participants from 183 countries.

More than ten Heads of State and Government mainly drawn from Africa, representatives of multilateral agencies, industry executives, ministers, scientists and grassroots campaigners are attending the three-day conference.

Xu said that blue economy has become an integral component of sustainability agenda hence the need for key stakeholders to pay enough attention to the sector.

“Blue economy is part and parcel to the development of ocean countries and has already become a new engine of the global economy,” Xu remarked, adding that prudent use of marine resources is key to achieve the UN 2030 goals and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.

The envoy said that China has supported global efforts to boost growth of blue economy through improved governance and sharing of knowledge and expertise to strengthen conservation of marine ecosystem.

“At the same time, in jointly building the Belt and Road, China will work for greater complementarity in ocean economy strategies and industries among countries, share our experience in the development of ocean economy, actively explore bilateral and multilateral cooperation ranging from marine resources development and protection, mariculture, fishery and marine tourism,” said Xu.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit held in Beijing in early September also adopted an initiative that covers blue economy cooperation between China and Africa.

Xu said that China is ready to offer technical and financial support that is required to spur growth of blue economy in Africa and other developing countries.



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