Fisheries Commission in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organized a three-day workshop for key stakeholders of Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) and the Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP) on the inclusion of small fish in the Ghana School Feeding Program from 26th – 28th June, 2023 at SkyPlus Hotel, Ho in the Volta Region.

The workshop aimed at building skills and capacity of stakeholders of SSF and GSFP  on best practices and to create awareness on the importance of small fish in Ghanaian food systems approach to food and nutrition security.

Participants included district level implementation level stakeholders of GSFP, Fisheries Commission , SSF organizations, and development partners in the fisheries and nutrition sector.

The Volta Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, Mr. William Agbenu, in his welcome address noted, the workshop will increase awareness and knowledge on local small fish and small fish products for sustainable nutrition at the community level.

Mr. Mark Kwame Offei, Nutrition and Food Systems Coordinator of FAO, on behalf of the Deputy Regional Representative of Ghana, Dr.Yurdi Yasmi, stated that, millions of school-aged children consume food during school hours, and in Ghana, a school meal constitutes a significant part of their diet. It is therefore essential that the food available in schools responds to children’s nutritional needs, he added.

He indicated that, Ghana’s fishery stock is an untapped nutrition resource and that, fish is essential for ensuring food and nutrition security for the most vulnerable populations in the nation.

As part of the Small -Scale Fisheries Umbrella Programme, National Project Coordinator of FAO, Md. Abigail Kanyi, mentioned that, there was a need for capacity building for stakeholders along the Small Fish value chain and the GSFP to build a consensus on the incorporation of Small Fish into the GSFP.

Nutrition Consultant at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Jolene Mateko A. Nyako, educated participants on the second day of the workshop on dietary guidelines for children. She cited that, fish being an essential protein in children’s diet contains omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B2, rich in calcium, phosphorus, and a great source of minerals.

Md. Yaa Tiwaah Amoah, Deputy Director of the Post-Harvest Management and Trade Division of Fisheries Commission noted that, the Safe Fish Certification and Licensing Scheme (SFCLS) which was launched this year, will regulate the fish processing industry through a licensing and certification system for fish processors and fish products.

Participants were sensitized on the status and dangers of child labor and child trafficking in the fisheries sector. Ag. Deputy Eastern Regional Director for Department of Gender, Md. Juliana Abbeyquaye, indicated that,  children who are being rescued by the police are being sheltered and catered for by the Social Welfare Unit of the Gender and Social Protection Ministry.

The third day of the workshop saw participants being taken through practical cookery sessions on the preparation and handling of small fish for cooking, processing small fish for storage, cleaning and repurposing Small Fish waste.

Dr. Jolene advised caterers to cook with natural herbs and spices, instead of additives.

Linkages were created amongst stakeholders, and they all pledged their support to the inclusion of small fish in GSFP.

Head of the Dzemeni Fish Processing center, Md. Eva, in her closing remarks mentioned that, fish processors at Dzemeni have benefited a lot from the Small -Scale Fisheries Umbrella Program. She said the use of improved smoking ovens have improved the quality of their fish products and their livelihoods.

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