Tanzania: Fish preservation techniques support local women in Kigoma with sales
Women in Kigoma play a significant role as middlepersons in the sale of fish, especially sardines
We are now able to have high-quality sardine products through these modern drying machines allowing us to penetrate new local markets
As the sun sets over the shores of Lake Tanganyika in North-Western Tanzania, Flora Nyabbi stands by a large consignment of sardines. She is joined by three other members of the Kazi Women Group and have brokered a deal with the women selling the latest catch of the day.
Women in Kigoma play a significant role as middlepersons in the sale of fish, especially sardines. But this market is often unpredictable as it depends on the catch of the day, as well as the ability for the women to dry the sardines.
Traditionally these women sun-dry their sardines, by spreading them over large trays in the open air. This proved to be not only an unhygienic environment but also, without a proper way of controlling moisture, the products shelf life was limited.
In 2016, Petro and Sons started operations, processing sardines using one machine with the capacity to process 4 Metric Tonnes (MT) per week. The company established a reliable source of raw fish and secured market channels. In order to grow and take the production capacity to scale, the company needed sufficient investment and working capital to satisfy the market.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF) technical assistance and grant funding was able to ensure women suppliers and facility users’ contract schemes created a beneficial partnership for both parties. The technical assistance support was extended to the developer to secure part of the funding gap from the commercial bank. Additionally, funding support from UNCDF was used to improve the working conditions at the factory through accommodative structures such as a break room for women, toilets, a cafeteria and a kitchen.
Through UNCDF’s Kigoma Joint Programme, Flora and 18 members of Kazi Women Group are now shareholders in Petro and Sons. The partnership enables them to add value to their produce by giving them access to sardine drying machines and packaging for their products which ensures a steady income stream. A total of 69 individual women entrepreneurs have registered their interest to utilize the facility with Petro and Sons.
Flora said: “We are now able to have high-quality sardine products through these modern drying machines allowing us to penetrate new local markets. Also, we have seen a growth in our capital.”
With the processing equipment in place, the shelf life of the fish is now up to 6 months, which reduces post-harvest losses and extends their market reach. The project intends to enter into a supply contract that will ensure women have a predictable market at a predetermined price. There are plans to include an additional 90 women from 3 landing sites that will benefit from the programme.
“The project has had a huge impact on our lives. The quality of our products has improved, and we have also managed to reach out to other women from different wards and districts to have their sardines dried at Petro and Sons,” Flora asserts.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).