Study exposes problems of small-scale fishing trade

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Dar es Salaam. Despite government efforts to improve fishing facilities, shopping malls and landing sites on Lake Victoria, a new study has revealed the uncertainties associated with fish pricing that affect the welfare of artisanal fishers.

Upon arrival at the landing site, artisanal fishers normally sell their catch to middlemen at a landing price, which is referred to as exploitation compared to what agents earn from traders.

The study, titled “Two-step hedonic analysis of fish attributes around Lake Victoria”, was conducted by Dr. Damian Sambuo and Dr. Kitala Malamsha, from Moshi Cooperative University (Mocu) in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Kirama of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

Researchers believe that artisanal fishers face various challenges that prevent them from getting the best landed price.
These include agent exploitation of fishermen; imbalance in bargaining power; limited access to production facilities; idiosyncratic preferences; lack of improved skills; and the use of modern technology.

“The environment in which fishers operate does not support market structuring, and this has been influenced by actors (agents, intermediaries, buyers and walkers),” the report states in part.

“As a result, the conduct of the actors has significant consequences in determining the landing price, which leads to underperformance, thus leading to fish pricing that does not thrive. Moreover, the landing price could be easily determined whether fishers decided to set a price based on input costs,” the report adds.
On the other hand, since the Lake Victoria fishery market is dominated by intermediaries (buyers) while taking into account their relationship with fishermen, a decline in input prices is expected, as buyers tend to maximize profits.

The study suggested that with poor market structure, conduct and performance, the increase in buyers does not support demand theory due to collusion. The review called on policy makers to restructure fish pricing methods and price information policies and to provide fishers with skills on various sales tactics that achieve specific business results in their landing centres.

Speaking recently in Mwanza, the president of the country’s fishermen’s association, Bakari Kadabi, said the government should not only monitor the sector closely but also invest heavily as the sector seemed to be left in the hands of the fishermen. .

“Of course, a lot has been done, but the fishermen are still not benefiting from their work. Please note that fish is a perishable commodity. So sometimes you have to sell it so you don’t suffer a huge loss,” he noted.

“It is surprising that a cotton producer contributes massively to the national GDP compared to what the fishing sector contributes, but cotton is a seasonal crop while fishing is done every day,” he said. added.

According to him, fixing prices is a challenge for fishermen because they do not have the mandate. He felt that there was a need for an empowerment program for the fishers as most of them went about their business with little knowledge of marketing.

“We are also calling on the government and other investors to build cold stores through which our catches will be kept, similar to what has been done with the warehouse receipt system,” he noted. .

A warehouse receipt system allows farmers to deposit storable goods such as grain, coffee or cashews in exchange for a warehouse receipt (WR), a document issued by warehouse operators such as evidence that specified products of a specified quantity and quality have been deposited at a particular location. location in case prices fall immediately after harvest. The system, he said, will help fishermen store fish and sell them later when prices recover, avoiding price risk.

“We also want the government to equip us with knowledge that will enable us to do business with confidence,” he said. Responding to Mr Kadabi, Deputy Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega, admitted that little had been done within the industry, assuring fisheries stakeholders that the government was reviving the sector .

“The current administration is working to strengthen the sector so that everyone involved benefits from the fight. For example, by 2025, it was expected that we would produce at least 600,000 metric tons per year,” he explained, adding that the president had added another boost by providing over 100 billion shillings. , 60% of which was injected into fish production.

We also had gaps in our program because we never offered market-based programs. »

According to the Deputy Minister, anyone enrolling in courses related to fishing or farming will also take courses related to marketing.

“Everything about livestock is money that applies to fish, everything in it, be it fillets, fish scales that produce cod leather, fish oil, good , so everything is money,” observed the Deputy Minister.

“We don’t want a tactical expert just for illegal fishing, we want a graduate, either from the Fisheries Education and Training Agency (FETA) or the Livestock Training Agency (LITA) , who has everything needed to help those assigned to him.

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