Despite the fact that fish contributes to about 70 percent of animal protein, the fish sector has not performed well mainly due to decline in fish production coupled by post-harvest losses.
Opening an inception meeting for AquaFish project at Golden Peacock in Lilongwe LUANAR’s Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Kaunda, acknowledged that the aquaculture and fisheries sector is still behind especially in Africa.
He said out of 60 million metric tonnes of fish produced in the world, only 1.6 million metric tonnes are produced in Africa and out of this, 1.3 metric tonnes are produced in Egypt which means the rest of Africa produces 300 000 metric tonnes while Malawi produces only 5000 metric tonnes .
He however said the establishment of the Centre of Excellency for Aquaculture and Fisheries at LUANAR bring hope of boosting fish production in the country and the region at large.
“I challenge the Centre to engage fit for purpose graduates in the implementation of its activities and that in five years’ time we should see change in the aquaculture and fisheries sector,” said Professor Kaunda.
In his presentation, Deputy Director of the AquaFish Centre Dr. Daud Kassam said the fisheries sector needs technologically skilled human resource to guide it saying it is for this reason that the Centre will train both masters and PhD students.
“The main objective of the project is to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the production of high skilled fit-for-purpose critical mass of agricultural scientists for improved aquaculture and fisheries management in order to enhance food, nutrition and economic security in Eastern and Southern Africa,” said Dr Kassam.
He said the project will improve innovations/technologies for increasing fish production, value addition and marketing, through partnerships with the private sector, academic and research institutions, and civil society organizations.
He further said AquaFish intends to achieve its objectives through collaboration with partners both public and private sector players who have been selected from within and outside Malawi. From countries such as Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, USA and other international organisations.
Speaking at the same function, the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) which is coordinating the implementation of the projects Dr Eugene Mutimura congratulated LUANAR for making it as a Centre of Excellence in Aquaculture and Fisheries.
He said over the project duration of five years, collectively these ACEs including LUANAR plan to enroll more than 3500 graduate students in the regional priority areas including aquaculture and fisheries, out of which more than 700 will be PhD students and more than 1000 will be female students.
“It is our high expectation that the expected outputs and long term impacts of the ACE II project will contribute significantly in improving the landscape of contribution of higher education to the socio-economic development of the sub-region. Therefore, it is my sincere hope that all key players of this project at different levels in their capabilities will do the needful to make the expectation from this project a reality,” he said.
Apart from LUANAR, University of Malawi’s College of Medicine is a Centre of Excellence in Public Health and Herbal Medicine.