Fisherwomen in Papua New Guinea can now benefit from an innovative fish processing technology to efficiently smoke and market their fish.
The novel “FAO-Thiaroye Technology” (FTT) is being introduced and demonstrated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) under the EU-funded STREIT Programme in the Country, starting from the Greater Sepik.
Fishing communities in Papua New Guinea face unique challenges, including limited access to market due to poor road conditions and high transportation costs, particularly in remote areas. In addition, the electrification rate is low (13 percent), which poses a cold chain challenge to fishing communities.
The practice of drying fish is not widespread due to high humidity levels, unfavourable weather, incessant rainfall, and lack of necessary resources and know-how. The traditional open-fire smoking technique currently being used in the Country is energy inefficient, time-consuming, and releases harmful contaminants, posing a threat to human health. Furthermore, the traditional practice is labour-intensive, which places a significant time burden on women fish processors, often resulting in poorly smoked fish that is unsuitable for sale.
The FTT is an innovative technology that empowers fisherwomen to own and operate profitable fish businesses. With this technology, the fisherwomen can diversify their products by offering a wide range of textures and flavours, providing consumers with more choices, and increasing the competitiveness of fish products. Furthermore, the FTT extends the shelf-life of fish, reducing post-harvest losses and enabling fisherwomen to transport their products over long distances for premium market prices.
Compared to traditional fish smoking methods, the FTT reduces fuel usage by 50 percent, resulting in better working conditions and reduced health risks associated with smoked fish preparation and consumption. This is particularly beneficial for women and children who are more exposed to the smoke. Additionally, the technology cuts down processing time, reducing workload and time-saving for these women.
As part of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, FAO has established and demonstrated the use of a pilot FTT processing facility with the Karawambo Women's Business Group in the Karawap community in East Sepik Province. These women have also received an extensive training program covering topics such as product quality, safety, stock management and record keeping, finance, and marketing. The primary goal of this initiative is to empower these communities to adopt sustainable techniques and grow their businesses.
“Our members are excited to participate in this pilot project that aims to improve their family's socioeconomic status by increasing household income and nutrition. When women are empowered, the entire community benefits. The EU–STREIT PNG Programme is helping us to reduce the uncertainty associated with fish-generated income, diversify income streams, and maximise the potential of our fish catch,” the chair lady of the Karawambo Women's Business Group, Cecilia Ambrose expressed with enthusiasm. "With this new technology, our members are now poised to explore new business opportunities, ready to act as a hub for disseminating this long-awaited technology to other fishing communities in the region and beyond,” she added.
FAO is also extending this initiative to other areas, including Angoram fishing communities living around the Mighty Sepik River, where another FTT site is currently under construction.
The EU-STREIT PNG Programme, being implemented as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as the leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region.
The Programme aims to help improve the lives of the people from East and West Sepik provinces, by focusing on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains.
The Programme also works on strengthening and improving the efficiency of agri-food value chain enablers, including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development.
Source: Press Release, EU-STREIT PNG Programme