It is being organised by the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences of the University of Ghana (UG), Legon, in collaboration with the Abuesi Fish Processing Association Resource Centre in the Shama District of the Western Region.
The programme, also a partnership with the Ghana National Fish Processing Traders Association (GNAFPTA), seeks to ensure efficient fish processing for sustainable livelihoods in the long term.
Participants would learn fish handling, fish processing and preservation, small and large scale fish processing, packaging, marketing and also do hands-on practicals.
Attended by 20 fish processors from the Abusei, Shama, Aboadze, Sekondi and Anlo Brach areas, the technology transfer course would also introduce the participants and students from UG, to the fast, reliable, efficient, sustainable and hygienic Abuesi Gas Fish Smoker(AGFS) and promote such fish processing and process in relatively large tonnage of fish for both local and export market.
Opening the course on Monday, the Principal Investigator of the Technology Transfer Training Project at the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, Prof. Francis K.E. Nunoo, said the small scale fish industry needed to grow, expand and also become export–focused, raking in more income for the industry players and the economy.
He, however, stressed that the issue of hygiene and safety of fish food was critical in this globalised economy and the crucial concerns to meet consumer taste and satisfaction.
“It’s good and critical that we have best practices in the fish business we do; for a better price and for the fish consumed in the country and worldwide so that the consumer will be happy and healthier. Indeed, your fish must be hygienic, stay longer and be in a good condition,” he said.
Touching on signs of perishable fish, Prof. Nunoo, also lecturer in Fisheries Ecology and Management, mentioned that fish began to spoil right out of water and that the time spent in fishing, handling on decks or canoe, in containers, human hands, equipment, time to get on land and the place at the beach were critical factors, saying that sometimes the boats were not neat and decent enough.
He said, as bacteria multiplied an acted on the fish caught it began to deteriorate and, therefore, advised the fish processers to act rapidly and reduce long haggling, to avoid the fish from going bad.
He taught them to maintain a good cold chain, hygiene, avoid damaging or crushing of fish to reduce fish cracks so that they get good value and good price, maintaining that “a good and attractive fish gained more customers”.
He continued: “Fish is perishable and so you must prevent spoilage which shortens the lifespan and value. By this, we will add value, gain more profits, create jobs and we will eat fish with satisfaction.”
The Principal Investigator noted that, in some areas, hygiene and the safety of fish was unsatisfactory as some of processors stepped on the products on the bare floor as they worked while others, too, would be sneezing and coughing, describing these habits as bad.
Prof. Nunoo said fish could be contaminated by germs, and, therefore, urged the participants to must avoid poor handling, observe good hygiene and clean working environment and home surroundings so that they do not unknowingly kill people, stressing that they need to chill the fish at require temperatures, process and sell them quickly.
“Some of you are not washing the fish you process, some also wash in dirty water and placing them on dirty surfaces exposing them to animal and predators. Keep them from flies and insect infestation. After visiting the toilet, wash your hands with soap, before handling fish. And dress neatly to gain the confidence of the consumer.” he added.
Indicating that the Ghana Standards Board would soon be tasked to visit the project and assess standards, he stated that the small scale business needed to grow and multiply into large scale production to improve price, export drive, foreign exchange and reduce poverty.
Fish, an animal protein, he said, was critical to world economy, providing employment for about 10 percent of the population with additional 10 percent being dependants, adding that while Ghana’s average consumption of fish was about 25 kilogrammes, global estimates averaged about 13 kilogrammes.
The switch to gas energy sources, he explained, was one way to reduce the cancers, noting that it would also reduce climate change effects, due to the indiscriminate cutting of forests cover.
The Chairman of the Abuesi Fish Processing Association Center, Mr. Aidoo Abban, said the partnership with the Marine and Fisheries Department was an important landmark in the groups march towards improved performance in the fish industry, safety and security of products, self -sufficiency and raising incomes.
From Clement Adzei Boye, Abuesi