SmallFishFood : Small Fish and Food Security: Towards innovative integration of fish in African food systems to improve nutrition

Project identifier 57-SMALLFISHFOOD
Project Status ongoing
Start date 2018-09-01
End date 2021-08-31
Roadmap Theme
  • Agriculture and food systems for nutrition: Improved food value chains
  • Agriculture and food systems for nutrition: Consumer behaviour and education
  • Expansion and improvement of agricultural markets and trade: Bio-economic strategies
  • Type of Project Applied research project
    Type of Project Development and innovation oriented (research) project
    Programme LEAP-Agri
    Keyword Food value chains; Fish; Post harvest innovations; Food systems governance
    Location Ghana; Kenya; Uganda
    Main Funder ERA-Net Cofund (LEAP-Agri)
    Co Funder Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) (H2020)
    Coordinator University of Bergen (UiB)
  • Institute of Marine Research
  • Wageningen University
  • The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
  • University of Ghana
  • Ghana Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI)
  • National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI)
  • Documents LEAP-Agri Projects information booklet



    The SmallFishFood consortium is a multidisciplinary research team from Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, covering the fields of fish stock assessment, processing, marketing, nutrition, risk assessment and governance. We provide innovative rethinking of the food security discourse by focusing on the nutritional value of small fish (e.g. sardines). We aim for transformation to ecological sustainability and food security by asking: How can socio-cultural, economic and institutional transformations of the fish value chain, as well as technical and infrastructural innovations, contribute to improved, sustainable utilization of small fish resources for Africa’s low-income population? The fact that the nutrients in fish can play a significant role in combating the triple burden of hunger, micronutrient deficiencies and non-communicable diseases is the starting point of the project. However, the unique qualities of fish are seldom recognized in the global food security discourse, and fish is strikingly missing from nutrient deficiency strategies among disadvantaged groups. Small fish are ubiquitous in all aquatic environments from large marine ecosystems to seasonal ponds, as well as in market places and low-income household diets, but their significance is underrated and little understood as they are consumed locally and often go unrecorded in catch statistics. In fact, fisheries are the most energy efficient producers in comparison to other food production systems and have the least environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gases and use of freshwater, fertilizers, insecticides/herbicides. Catching small fish, which are simply sun-dried and consumed whole, is the most highyielding, eco-friendly, low CO2-emission and nourishing way of utilizing aquatic resources. However, a range of social, technical, economic and legal barriers inhibit the full potential of utilizing small fish and it is the aim of this project to contribute to solving these.

    Main objectives:
    •  Identify, quantify and map current patterns of production and distribution of small fish for food and feed, with particular reference to Ghana, Kenya and Uganda
    • Identify and describe the harvesting, marketing and utilization patterns of small fish and how they contribute to food and nutritional security in these countries
    • Improve the production processes to achieve better quality and longer shelf life
    • Disseminate the nutritious value of small fish to stakeholders and governance agencies and analyse how barriers to sustainable utilization can be resolved