Prof. Nunoo with the ParticipantsA five-day training programme aimed at finding ways to improve hygiene and safety in the processing of fish along the coast of the country is underway, here.

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


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