3 February 2016 - CAIRO, Egypt – The Embassy of Switzerland’s Office for International Cooperation, in collaboration with WorldFish and CARE International, has launched the Sustainable Transformation of Egypt’s Aquaculture Market System (STREAMS) project aimed at boosting production of inexpensive, nutritious and safe fish from sustainable aquaculture systems in Egypt.

STREAMS will increase the participation of Egypt’s underprivileged socioeconomic segments in the country’s fast-growing aquaculture sector while also making fish more affordable and accessible. Increased availability and consumption of fish can reduce Egypt’s high rates of childhood stunting, undernutrition and obesity.

The three-year STREAMS project will assist fish farmers, fish traders and retailers across seven Egyptian governorates: Kafr El Sheikh, Beheira, Sharkia, Fayoum, Port Said, Minya and Beni Suef. The funding allocated for this project is 2 million Swiss Francs.

STREAMS will focus on three goals. The first is to train fish farmers on improved management practices in existing fish farming zones and increase access to the Abbassa improved strain of Nile tilapia, a faster growing variety of the main fish species stocked in Egyptian fish farms. The second is to promote aquaculture practices in geographical areas that are not yet engaged in this sector with a focus on small-scale and integrated systems. The third is to enhance marketing systems for aquaculture products through support for retailers, the provision of market information and the establishment of a certification scheme for farmed Egyptian tilapia.

“Since 2011, Swiss investments in the Egyptian fishing sector have increased income and employment in the sector and have provided the Egyptian population with better quality and healthier food at low cost. The success of this program is a solid base for more efforts to strengthen the Egyptian aquaculture market and to contribute to food security in Egypt,” says Markus Leitner, Ambassador of Switzerland to Egypt.

In a nation where approximately 25% of people are resource-poor (according to the 2013 Statistics of the UN World Food Programme), fish is an important part of the Egyptian diet, providing essential protein and micronutrients. The development of aquaculture, however, has been constrained by a restrictive regulatory environment, poor post-harvest and supply chain handling, fish health issues and licensing arrangements favouring medium-scale businesses.

STREAMS will improve market standards in fish distribution systems and introduce testing frameworks in order to provide definitive evidence that Egyptian farmed fish is safe. Moreover, STREAMS will pilot-test small-scale aquaculture and integrated aquaculture-agriculture systems and help aquaculture producer organizations to advocate for policy changes.

“With its robust support for national aquaculture development, Egypt is setting an example for other countries in the Middle East and Africa to follow. Increased investment in aquaculture will bring improvements in nutrition and food security as well as increased employment and income,” said Nigel Preston, Director General of WorldFish.

STREAMS builds on the significant gains realized through the Swiss-Funded Improving Employment and Incomes through the Development of Egypt’s Aquaculture Sector (IEIDEAS) project (2011 - 2015) also led by WorldFish Egypt in partnership with CARE International in Egypt. IEIDEAS saw approximately 2400 individual fish farmers trained in best management practices, and 109 million fry of the faster growing Abbassa - the improved strain of Nile tilapia - distributed to 459 fish farmers.

“The successes we acquired with women fish retailers in IEIDEAS will allow us to scale up and multiply our impact in the STREAMS project. Our aim at STREAMS is to facilitate the creation of a supporting environment that empowers marginalized women, maintains their rights and builds their capacities. It will also provide them with a better representation, encouraging them to become more self-reliant and to stand for their rights, while enabling them to do their jobs safely and to increase their income,” explains Hazem Fahmy, CARE International in Egypt Country Director.

According to 2015 statistics issued by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), agricultural and fishing activities comprised the largest segment of workers engaged in the Egypt’s economic activities, at 6.5 million people or 26.5 % of the workforce.

About WorldFish:

WorldFish is an international, non-profit research organization that harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. In the developing world, more than one billion poor people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and 250 million depend on fishing and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.

About the Office for International Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Egypt

Switzerland has been a long standing partner of Egypt, mainly in the domain of economic development. Following the 2011 uprising, Switzerland decided to upscale its support to Egypt in order to help Egypt’s transition towards a democracy. A Framework Agreement between Switzerland and Egypt was ratified in November 2013 to outline this bilateral cooperation. Several Swiss governmental agencies are involved such as the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Human Security Division. The program focuses on three domains: Democratic Transition and Human Rights, Migration and Protection, and Economic Development and Employment.

About CARE Egypt:

CARE Egypt is an international nongovernmental organization that works with the most marginalized communities in Egypt as part of CARE International. CARE Egypt’s work is focused primarily on Upper Egypt, where it works closely through a rights-based approach with the poor and marginalized, civil society and government institutions to improve livelihoods on a sustainable basis. Using community-generated strategies and local resource mobilization, CARE’s work encompasses a number of different sectors including women’s rights, education, governance, civic engagement and agriculture and natural resource management.

For more information or to request an interview contact:

Toby Johnson, Senior Media Relations Manager; Mobile Tel: +60 (0) 175 124 606

Email: t.johnson@cgiar.org

or

Mona El Azzazy, Communications Officer, WorldFish Egypt, Tel. (+2) 553168821

Sally Yacoub, National Programme Officer, Embassy of Switzerland’s Office for International Cooperation,

Tel. (+2) 227951536

Noha Abdel Hamid, Partnerships & Communications Manager, CARE International in EGYPT, Tel. +2 02 252 60096 / +2 02 252 63373 Ext: 261

Photo: WorldFish/Flickr