CSIR-Food Research Institute unveils improved processing facility for quality fish

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Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (CSIR-INSTI)
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (CSIR-INSTI)

The Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has built an improved fish processing facility to promote the production of quality and safe fish.

The development was part of the Institute’s collaborative project dubbed “HealthyFood Africa”, being run in African countries including Ghana, Kenya, and the European Union to promote nutrition through enhancement of diversity, sustainability, resilience and connectivity of fish food systems.

Professor Charles Tortoe, the Acting Director, FRI, who unveiled the facility at a “Multi-Stakeholder Workshop and Technical Working Session Programme” organised by FRI in Accra, explained that the refurbishment of its fish processing centre into a compliance facility would serve as a model for training fish workers in safe and hygienic fish handling and processing.

The workshop was for stakeholders to share ideas to generate best practices that fish value-chain actors could use to process good, healthy and high-quality fish for consumption and sale.

The facility would also aid in the transfer of knowledge and technology as well as the development of value-added fish products.

He said the project was organised in Work Packages (WPs) and the FRI focused on the WP6 to develop novel food products tools and process to support innovative agri-business models.

About 40 years ago, the FRI produced a dryer known as the “Chorkor” smoker, amid other dryers including the “Ahotor Dryer”, Prof. Tortoe said.

He explained that the Institute visited the fields to assess the challenges and opportunities that existed for improvement on smoking of fish in Ghana.

This was to ensure that Ghana had value added fish for local consumption and export to the European and American markets.

The Ag. Director said the facility opened at the FRI premises in Accra, would be opened to the fish value-chain actors, other stakeholders and for project research works.

Mrs Amy Atter, a Senior Research Scientist and a Co-Project Lead, explained that the compliance facility would be used for different hygienic fish processing activities including smoking, drying, drying, drying, canning, and packaging activities.

Moreover, a test kitchen or sensory laboratory, refurbished to a new, modern, digitalised, and environmentally friendly space, would be used for the product development activities and evaluation, she said.

Mr Stephen Nketia, a Scientific Information and Business Development Officer, FRI, reporting on an improved stove performance evaluation conducted, said a questionnaire was developed and distributed at areas where fish stoves including ‘Ahotor’ had been installed including the Tema New Town, Nungua, and Tsokome in the Greater Accra region.

Others were Aflao, Denu, Adina, Kajekope, and Dzemeni in the Volta region and Abandze, Ankaful, Apam, Bantama and Elmina in the Central region.

He said although the research indicated that some used the ovens without challenges, others also proposed ideas to help improve the stoves they used for processing fish for markets.

Dr Seth Agyakwah, the Project Principal Investigator, talking about challenges in the fish production and processing sector, said challenges in the fish food systems, led to insufficient productivity for farmers, thereby leading to unhealthy consumption patterns, double burden of malnutrition, and under-nutrition in Accra, the continent and across the globe.

Other challenges were the low-level organisation of fish value chain actors, e-commerce for fish transactions, and weak governance of the associations in the fish value chain.

Mr Emmanuel Kwarteng, a Lead Technical Expert for the design of the Ahotor Oven, said as some respondents said the Ahotor oven saved about 31.8 per cent of fuel consumption, and saved them a bit from being hard hit with heat, it was also prudent to devise better means of producing quality fish for markets.

The overall goal of HealthyFoodAfrica was to make food systems in 10 African cities in six countries across three African macro-regions more sustainable, equitable, and resilient by reconnecting food production and food consumption in effective ways.

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