Ensuring food security: An analysis of the industrial smoking fishery sector of Ghana

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Background: The smoked fishery sector of Ghana plays an important role in terms of food security, employment creation, income generation and foreign exchange earnings aiding sustainable development of the Ghanaian economy. Fish smoking is the leading technique of fish processing in Ghana (70-80% of local fish consumption is smoked). As fish consumers are becoming more aware of fish safety issues, it is vital to analyse developments in the smoked fishery sector of Ghana in order to ensure food safety, nutritional needs, fish food security and employment. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the industrial fish smoking sector, especially, exports to the European market (Ghana's biggest customer in terms of earnings). Also, an analysis of the various characteristics and interests of fish smoking will be conducted. Managing the fishery resources through value addition and trade will help Ghana to achieve sustainable development targets. Results: Smoked fish provides food, nutrients and livelihoods to a number of Ghanaians, especially the poor. Aside from traditional fish smoking production, about 67 t of industrial smoked fish [in live weight (Euro stat Conversion Factor for smoked fish (into live weight) is 3.31)] is produced annually by smoking establishments, most of it going to Europe. The market for Ghanaian industrial smoked fish products is the African diaspora living in European countries and is worth 64 t (in live weight) valued at 80,000 EUR in 2016. The major species smoked are from inland sources (mainly Chrysichthys sp., Tilapia sp., Lates sp., Synodontis sp., Hydrocynus sp., Cyprinus carpio and Clarias sp.) and marine sources (Sphyraena sp., Caranx sp., Sardinella, herrings and Penaeus sp.). Industrial smoking establishments are supplied by approved fishing establishments selected only based on EU food safety standards, by Ghanaian Competent Authority (CA). The approved smoking establishments are supplied by just a few fishing vessels supplying marine species, and mainly rely on small-scale fisheries for their raw material. Both the plant and the Competent Authority regularly monitor all stages of the production chain, the landing sites, plant structure and processing process. Conclusions: Industrial smoked fish products have high value added. It is important to support this processing industry. Generally, the smoking industry in Ghana is characterised by up to 50% capacity utilisation. Fish waste is generally sold to livestock and aquaculture feed farms. Quality requirements of smoked products not only involve polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) levels but also Listeria, histamine (for some species) and Clostridium. Further attention and support should be given to the small and medium enterprises and processing associations trying to reach the EU PAHs threshold (2 ppm/kg) by improved methods, making traditional smoking safer and directly benefiting the Ghanaian population. Moreover, the capacity of the Ministries of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Trade and Industry, Health, Food Research Institute, Ghana Export and Promotion Authority, Ghana Standards Authority and the Food and Drugs Authority should be built to effectively monitor processing establishments in order to produce safe smoked products for European diasporas and Ghanaians.




Asiedu, B., Failler, P., & Beygens, Y. (2018). Ensuring food security: An analysis of the industrial smoking fishery sector of Ghana. Agriculture and Food Security, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40066-018-0187-z

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