Ensuring food security: an analysis of the industrial smoking sector of Ghana

Berchie Asiedu, Pierre Failler, Yolaine Beygens

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    Background - The smoked fishery sector of Ghana provides food security, employment, income and foreign exchange to the sustainable development of the Ghanaian economy. Fish smoking continues to be the leading technique of fish processing in Ghana (70-80% of local fish consumption is smoked). As fish consumers are becoming more aware of fish safety issues, it is vital to analyse developments in the smoked fishery sector of Ghana in order to ensure food safety, nutritional needs, fish food security and employment. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the industrial fish smoking sector, especially, exports to the European market (Ghana’s biggest customer in terms of earnings). Also, an analysis of the various characteristics and interests of fish smoking will be conducted. Managing the fishery resources through value addition and trade will help Ghana to achieve sustainable development targets.

    Results - Smoked fish provides food, nutrients, livelihood support to a number of Ghanaians, most especially the poor. Aside from traditional fish smoking production, about 67 tonnes of industrial smoked fish (in live weight ) is produced annually by smoking establishments, most of it going to Europe. The market for Ghanaian industrial smoked fish products is the African Diaspora living in European Countries and is worth 64 t (in live weight) in 2016. The major species smoked are from inland sources (mainly Chrysichthys sp., Tilapia sp., Lates sp., Synodontis sp., Hydrocynus sp., Cyprinus carpio. and Clarias sp.) and marine sources (Sphyraena sp. Caranx sp., Sardinella, herrings, Penaeus sp.).

    - Industrial smoking establishments are supplied by approved fishing establishments selected only based on EU food safety standards, by the Ghana Competent Authority. The approved smoking establishments are supplied by just a few fishing vessels supplying marine species, and mainly rely on small scale fisheries for their raw material. Both the plant and the Competent Authority (CA) regularly monitor all through the production chain, landing site, plant structure and processing process.

    Conclusions: Industrial smoked products have a high value-added. It would be worthwhile to support this processing industry. Generally, the smoking industry in Ghana is characterised by up to 50% capacity utilisation. Fish waste is generally sold to livestock and aquaculture feed farms. Quality requirements of smoked products are not only polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) levels but also Listeria, histamine (for some species) and Clostridium. Further attention and support should be given to the Small Medium Enterprise processing associations, trying to reach the EU PAHs threshold (2 ppm/kg) by improved methods, allowing traditional smoking to be safer and directly benefit the Ghainanan population. Moreover, the capacity of the Ministries of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Health, Food Research Institute, Food and Drugs Authority should be built to effectively monitor processing establishments in order to produce safe smoked products for Diaspora and Ghanaians.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number38
    Number of pages11
    JournalAgriculture and Food Security
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2018


    • fish
    • Ghana
    • processing
    • fish smoking
    • food security
    • quality
    • small-scale fisheries


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