|Small-Scale Processing of Fish (ILO - WEP, 1982, 140 p.)|
Fresh water and sea fish constitute an important source of food for large segments of the populations of developing countries. However, consumption of fresh or processed fish by low-income groups, located outside the main urban centres of these countries, has not progressed and, in some cases, has actually declined. A number of reasons may explain this situation: lack of adequate infrastructure at landing areas (e.g. lack of cold storage), over-emphasis on supplying the export markets with high priced fresh and processed fish which cannot be afforded by low-income groups, inadequate fish processing technologies used by small-scale fish processors, etc. The lack of appropriate landing and transport facilities puts a limit to the amount of fish which can be marketed before spoilage takes place (e.g. within six hours at ambient temperatures for tropical fish). Inadequate transport facilities and marketing channels also make local fishermen dependent on fish wholesalers or retailers who tend to pay them low prices for their catches. Thus, these fishermen are not induced to expand the supply of fish.
Small-scale fisheries, which are more appropriate for the supply of fresh or cured fish for consumption by low-income groups than large-scale fisheries, generally tend to be neglected. It is hoped that the information provided in this Memorandum - prepared jointly by ILO, FAO and UNEP (which also financed its preparation) - will enable governments and policy-makers to support small-scale fisheries development programmes. Although this technical memorandum focusses essentially on the small-scale processing of fish, other aspects of these programmes should not be neglected (e.g. fishing techniques, marketing, quality control, credit) if they were to achieve far-reaching results.
This Memorandum covers the choice of fish processing technologies particularly suited for small-scale producers, namely, fish salting, drying and fermenting (Chapter II) and fish smoking and boiling (Chapter III.). Thermal processing, which may not be efficiently carried out by small-scale producers, is briefly described in Chapter IV. An economic evaluation of such processing is, however, provided in Chapter V in order to allow project evaluators and public planners to compare the economic feasibility of thermal processing and other techniques. The employment impact and skill requirements associated with different techniques are also briefly analysed in Chapter V.
Fish drying, salting, fermenting, smoking and boiling are described in sufficient detail to allow small-scale producers to apply the technologies covered in Chapters II and III without having to seek a great deal of additional information. Drawings of major pieces of equipment and step-by-step description of processing techniques are provided for various fish species. Unlike other technical memoranda in the series, this one does not provide a list of equipment suppliers since the proposed equipment (e.g. for drying, smoking) can be easily manufactured locally. Nor are pieces of equipment and materials which may need to be imported (e.g. fans, heaters) specific to fish processing; they can therefore be ordered from local equipment and materials importers.
Chapter V provides a methodological framework for estimating unit production costs associated with alternative processing techniques. This framework, illustrated with a number of living examples from developing countries, can be easily applied by fish processors who wish to obtain estimates of processing costs prior to investing in new fish processing units or in improving the efficiency of already operating ones. This Chapter also describes the type of assistance (e.g. training, extension services, credit) needed by the fisheries sector of a developing country in order to improve the processing and marketing of fish.
Chapter VI analyses the environmental impact of small-scale and large-scale fish production and processing in terms of the depletion of the fish population, energy utilisation and air and water pollution. Some suggestions are made in order to minimise the harmful impact of fish production and processing on the environment.
This Memorandum does not describe all existing fish processing technologies. Rather, a choice has been made from among those which have been successfully applied by small-scale fish processors in a number of developing countries. Other technologies, not described in this Memorandum, may also be adapted to local conditions and tried in a few production units with a view to assessing their technical and economic efficiency. The bibliography in Appendix II should provide useful additional information on these technologies.
The main target audience of this Memorandum includes small-scale fish processors, trainers and extension officers from fisheries departments or rural development agencies, project evaluators from industrial development departments and technical cooperation experts. It is hoped that public planners would also be interested in the chapters dealing with the socio-economic evaluation of alternative fish processing technologies and the environmental impact of the latter.
A questionnaire is attached at the end of the Memorandum for those readers who may wish to send to the ILO their comments and observations on the content and usefulness of this publication. These will be taken into consideration in the future preparation of additional technical memoranda.
This Technical Memorandum was prepared by the Tropical Products Institute (London) in collaboration with Mr. M. Allal, staff member of the Technology and Employment Branch of the ILO and Mr. Z. S. Karnicki, staff member of the Fisheries Industries Division of the FAO.
A. S. Bhalla,
Technology and Employment Branch.