The Fisheries Commission in Collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, launched a policy brief on the inclusion of small fish into the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) andnutrition education materials and organized a national workshop to disseminate the policy brief at Labadi BeachHotel, Accra.
The workshop aimed at increasing the capacity of policymakers, NGOs, and SSF Organizations to champion and direct policy towards including Small Fish in GSFP’s dietary guidelines, operation manuals, and best practicescommunications.
The minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson, in her keynote address, statedthat including small fish in diets to improve the nutritional profile of school meals is laudable, as fish contains necessary nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids which are good for brain function.
She informed the gathering that, her ministry has equipped fish processors with high-quality and food-safety fishprocessing technologies to safeguard consumption and meet international standards. “I am happy to announce thatthirteen (13) fish processing groups have obtained in processing safe and quality fish ”, she added.
The sector minister assured stakeholders that, the ministry would ensure that the necessary linkages are createdto ensure the availability of fish to stakeholders in the GSFP at affordable prices.
Mr. Fred Antwi Boadu, Executive Director of the Fisheries Commission, in his welcome address, mentioned thatthe FAO has supported the Commission in implementing several projects in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sectors,notable among them is the promotion of improved fish smoking technologies to reduce post-harvest losses.
He noted that fish is an essential nutritional element for children’s brain health and cognitive development, andtherefore, supporting a scientific study to formulate a policy to include fish in school meals is a welcomeddevelopment, he added.
FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Ghana, Dr. Yurdi Yasmi stated that the GSFP since its inception in2005 has seen good progress over the years.
He announced that the GSFP now covers the 261 metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies across the 16administrative regions with over 3.8 million beneficiary pupils in about 11,000 schools.
As part of the implementation of the Small-Scale Fisheries project, a study was commissioned to analyze the role ofsmall fish and small-scale fisheries (SSF) value chains in livelihoods, diets, and nutrition.
Dr. Yurdi Yasmi reiterated that the study examined the role of small fish in ensuring that the GSFP is sustainable andresilient as it relates to the food and nutrition security of school-going children in fishing communities.
Dr. Jolene Nyako, a nutrition consultant at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and FAO mentioned that a scoping exercise was conducted on how to link local agricultural sector and the local industries to the GSFP, specifically in the fisheries sector. She added that, stakeholders, religious groups, foundations, individual groups can start mobilising at a non-governmental level to support the GSFP at the district level.
Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson declared the Policy Brief on the Inclusion of Small Fish into the Ghana School Feeding Programme and the educational materials duly launched.
Participants included stakeholders of the GSFP, Fisheries Commission, Small Scale Fisheries Organizations (SSFOs) MoFAD, MoFA, MoGCSP, NGOs/CSOs, and other Development partners in the fisheries and nutrition landscape.