By Shezna Shums
The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in collaboration with INFOFISH (the inter-governmental organisation for marketing information and advisory services in Asia and Pacific) yesterday launched a project to encourage small and medium enterprises on sustainable fish processing and marketing.
Titled ‘Promotion and Processing and Marketing of Freshwater Fish Products’ the project is designed to encourage small and medium scale entrepreneurs in production and marketing of freshwater fish species for export processing and domestic marketing while ensuring the sustained utilisation of freshwater fish resources in the country. This is the pilot project that will be done in Sri Lanka. This will be done by the application of appropriate products and market diversification strategies, taking into account the food security and wellbeing of the community engaged in inland fisheries production and capture fisheries.
The main focus of the project is to provide the support of both export and domestic marketing of fresh water fish and fish products through the introduction of innovative processing and presentation methods, whilst also reducing the post harvest losses and at the same time ensuring the safety and quality of the fish products.
Promotion of trade and provision of market intelligence are also one of the main focal points of the project.
This project will be funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) in the Netherlands and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will act as the supervisory body for the project.
The project will be implemented in five countries at the same time. The countries involved in this project are Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The project will address the common challenges of the freshwater fish industries in each of the countries and experiences learnt from this project will be replicated in other private companies around the world.
One of the objectives of the project is to work directly with the private sector entrepreneurs and relate to the needs of the private sector. Director, INFOSISH, Dr. Muhammed Ayub stated that after the return of peace to Sri Lanka, they envisage a rapid growth in the Sri Lankan fishery and aquaculture sector and export markets.
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board Janaka Ratnayake said that of the 51,000 metric tonnes of fresh water fish produced in the country, 100 per cent of this is consumed locally.
“Only about five per cent of the marine fish are exported, despite the huge global demand for fish,” said the Chairman.
Furthermore, the Chairman said that Sri Lanka mainly exports to the United States and European United and that we should start looking at the markets within our region such as India and China and other countries, which in the future would be strong markets to supply to.
Another issue raised by the Chairman is that Sri Lanka imports a large amount of fish for local consumption and for re-exportation, but that we should start improving local fish production, while it is important to add value to the fish products when exporting.
The Chairman added that this was also the case when it comes to other industries such as spices, coconuts, garments and textiles, leather, chemicals and food and beverages as such industries are showing positive growth but there is a need for value addition to capture the global market and make local products more profitable.
Currently a lot of the local products are exported in bulk form and to make them more profitable to the country, it is important to add value to them by improving the local processing techniques and value additions.
The Sri Lanka Export Development Board hopes to achieve Rs. 10 billion revenue in the year 2011 with regard to exports.