During the validation workshop for the PROFISHBLUE project, a collaborative initiative between the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), which took place in Lilongwe, Republic of Malawi on 6th February 2024, several speakers expressed concerns and lessons learned regarding the inadequate fish and fisheries production in the SADC region to sufficiently meet its market demand.
The workshop aimed to validate project outputs, through exchanging ideas, shared experiences, and discuss policy harmonisation and the elimination of barriers to promote the free flow of fish and fishery products.
Dr. Hastings Zidana, the Director of Fisheries for the Republic of Malawi emphasised the significance of the meeting, highlighting that food is one of the most heavily traded commodities in the SADC region, particularly in Malawi, where agriculture accounts for approximately one-third of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Dr. Zidana further emphasised that fish contributes 4% to Malawi's GDP, and constitutes 30% of the protein consumed in Malawi, highlighting the paramount importance of fish and fisheries product trading for Malawi and the SADC Region.
Dr. Motseki Hlatshwayo, the Technical Advisor for Fisheries at the SADC Secretariat and Project Manager for the Programme for Improving Fisheries Governance and Blue Economy Trade Corridors (PROFISHBLUE Project) in the SADC Region, underscored the importance of the validation workshop. He stated that the project provides an opportune moment for SADC Member States to collectively enhance the blue economy governance and trade mechanisms to protect the aquatic ecosystems, promote coordinated fishing practices and enhance food and livelihood security.
He emphasised the necessity for the region to enhance its blue economy trade corridors by promoting trade opportunities, fostering job and wealth creation, reducing poverty, and fostering increased integration and cooperation through trade harmonisation, thus ensuring economic growth and prosperity.
Mr. Alejando Rivera Rojas, Project Manager at UNIDO applauded the commitment of SADC Member States in their efforts and willingness to work together in fostering a platform for partnerships to enhance food security through meaningful development of the sector's value chain investment.
The workshop was attended by several partners who made presentations shedding light on the status, lessons learned and development necessary for the SADC region to improve the social and economic benefits of the fish trade. Some notable topics discussed include the overview technical analysis of the fish trade, research reports on fisheries economy, trade policy regulations, and initiatives to improve intra and inter-regional trade, as well as information on the status of quality infrastructure in the PROFISHBLUE participating Member States.
PROFISHBLUE is a project supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which was launched in October 2021 with a grant totalling US$9.2 million to support the implementation of best practices in fisheries governance and blue economy trade corridors in the SADC region. The project aims to promote sustainable management of fisheries resources within the blue economy context to improve food and nutritional security, create employment through value chain activities, facilitate intra-regional trade, and build adaptive capacity.
The meeting was also attended by trade regulators and implementing partners, namely the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), WorldFish, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and local entities in the fish value chain from Malawi and Zambia.
Other participants included National Focal Point from all the beneficiary Member States, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.