Mali’s aquaculture sector gets boost to help fight poverty

Published on
March 10, 2022
An African aquaculture worker feeds fish in a fish pond.

A global non-governmental organization is using aquaculture as a tool to support efforts to eradicate poverty in Mali and woo more young people into seafood production, with the ultimate goal of deflating militant groups that have disrupted the West African country’s economic growth.

U.S.-based global NGO World Neighbors said it is supporting the new concept of cooperative fishponds in Mali, as a low-cost but high-impact, community-based program that enables participants to diversify their income sources and contribute to overall national development. The ultimate goal is minimizing the raging civil conflict in the country, which has been attributed to poor economic growth.

The cooperative fishpond initiative brings together community fish farmers to establish ponds where they then raise, harvest, and sell different types of fish – such as Nile tilapia and North Africa catfish.

The cooperative fishpond members have set up savings and credit funds where profit and other earnings are deposited for them to access low- or no-interest loans to invest in expanding aquaculture farming and other agriculture-based businesses.

“Capital accumulation and investment in profitable businesses that meet basic needs catalyzes economic and social development that holds long-term promise to reduce poverty, instability, and the fuel for both militant and state violence,” World Neighbors said in a press release.

The NGO is positioning small-scale aquaculture as a means of improviong the lives of the 16.5 million citizens of Mali.

Aquaculture in Mali is still “underdeveloped and occupies a negligible place in the national economy," according to the Food and Agriculture OrganizationThe U.N. agency said the country’s aquaculture is limited to subsistence fish farming in ponds of Nile tilapia and North African catfish, with around 3,900 metric tons of production, according to 2017 statistics.

“There is potential to expand rice-fish culture in irrigated areas if fish fingerling production and supply to farmers is improved,” FAO said.

Overall, Mali’s fish sector accounts for about 9 percent of the country's total domestic consumption of animal protein, with fish consumption per capita estimated at 9.3 kilograms, compared to a global per capita average of 20.9 kilograms.

To meet the national consumption demand, Mali is relying on imports, with the value of its 2017 fish imports estimated at USD 36.3 million (EUR 32.8 million), compared to a fish-export value of USD 311,000 (EUR 275,000).  

Photo courtesy of the African Development Bank

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