WorldFish’s Fish for Africa Innovation Hub serves as a one-stop destination for the region

4 minutes read
WorldFish Country Director for Egypt, Ahmed Nasr-Allah leading the USDA FAS delegation. Photo by Ahmed Ashraf
Highlights
  • The Fish for Africa Innovation Hub is playing a leading role in the aquatic foods industry in the region and advancing innovative mitigation solutions in the form of climate-smart technologies in MENA and broader Africa 

  • Over the past two years, Egypt’s SEC has served as a regional hub in providing in-person and virtual professional development training to help existing and budding small-scale farmers gain and exchange knowledge with peers 

  • The mission of Egypt’s SEC, which operates from WorldFish’s Abbassa facility, aligns with the interest of USDA FAS in terms of sustaining the accessibility of green and smart technologies to alleviate poverty and achieve food security for the nation 

Egypt aims to develop its aquatic foods sector to fulfill the food and nutrition needs of its people, particularly those in the rural communities, through its ambitious national agenda known as Egypt Vision 2030. WorldFish, a leader in the region for research in aquatic food systems, is committed to helping the Egyptian government achieve this by advancing innovative mitigation solutions in the form of climate-smart technologies through its presence in Egypt. 

The country’s aquaculture is an important source of animal protein as well as employment in the blue economy. WorldFish’s Fish for Africa Innovation Hub (FAIH) has been contributing significantly to the development of the aquaculture sector in Egypt. This has since been complemented by the establishment of Egypt’s Soy Excellence Center (SEC) in 2019, at WorldFish’s Abbassa facility, in partnership with the United States Soy Export Council (USSEC). 

Over the past two years, Egypt’s SEC served as a regional hub in providing in-person and virtual professional development training to help existing and budding small-scale aquatic food actors gain the necessary knowledge and advance their practical expertise to increase their competency in the aquatic foods sector. Egypt’s SEC has also become an important destination for stakeholders in the blue economy to build cross-regional networks and support the growth of business leaders within the aquatic foods sector.  

Scaling FAIH’s innovations across the MENA region

The USDA FAS delegation visited WorldFish’s genetics facility in Abbassa, Al Sharkia. Photo by Ahmed Ashraf
The USDA FAS delegation visited WorldFish’s genetics facility in Abbassa, Al Sharkia. Photo by Ahmed Ashraf

Recently, members of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Egypt visited WorldFish’s facilities in Abbassa, Al Sharkia to follow up on the activities of FAIH, in general, and Egypt’s SEC, in particular.  

Ahmed Nasr-Allah, WorldFish’s country director for Egypt, led the USDA FAS delegation, which included Agricultural Minister-Counselor Kurt Seifarth and Senior Agricultural Advisor Ahmed Wally, to visit WorldFish’s genetics facility and value-addition unit as well as Skeretting’s research and development unit to understand WorldFish’s work on food security and sustainability of aquatic food systems in Egypt. 

Of great interest to the delegation was WorldFish’s In-Pond Raceway System (IPRS), a climate-smart aquaculture system, and Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), particularly the 16th generation Abbassa strain of Nile Tilapia that gained improved performance as a result of selective breeding. 

“There are many lessons to be learned from WorldFish such as the use of smart resource-based green technologies to mitigate the effects of a changing climate and adopting best practices to achieve high production in the aquaculture sector,” said Seifarth. 

“Working with different partners in the agri-food industry, WorldFish can scale these success stories to alleviate poverty and improve food security, particularly the rural communities of Egypt and the wider MENA region,” added Seifarth. 

Doaa Fawzi, WorldFish’s training manager, pointed out that USSEC is a key collaborator of Egypt’s SEC in providing small-scale farmers with the needed expertise and training to achieve a sustainable source of food and nutrition, particularly for the rural communities of Egypt, MENA and the rest of Africa. 

Building on FAIH’s strong foundations 

WorldFish's In-Pond Raceway System (IPRS) team harvesting tilapia at Abbassa. Photo by Ahmed Ashraf
WorldFish's In-Pond Raceway System (IPRS) team harvesting tilapia at Abbassa. Photo by Ahmed Ashraf

Before the visit concluded, new pathways for agri-food business training and workshops to enhance the workforce education landscape were identified through collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Industry trends need to be constantly assessed so that stakeholders can be advised on future pathways to achieve mutual benefit. Support should also be provided to overcome key operational aquatic food systems inefficiencies, challenges and hurdles across the MENA region.  

The contributions of WorldFish and CGIAR for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (UNFCCC COP 27) were also discussed. Areas of mutual collaboration with USDA FAS and USSEC were explored for the climate change conference, which is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt later this year. 

“Transferring cross-regional knowledge has been the main goal of Egypt’s SEC since 2019. The advisory board of Egypt’s SEC has responded to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic quite admirably,” said Nasr-Allah. 

“That has given us the foundation to continue the capacity building of small-scale aquatic food business leaders in Africa and the MENA region through monthly virtual training, of which 30 percent of the participants were women. This made us realize the importance of increasing women’s participation at different points across the aquatic foods supply chain,” added Nasr-Allah. 

Menna Mosbah

Gender and Communications Consultant