The fishes' nutritional and economic benefits are not yet being realised due to high post-harvest losses, caused by improper handling and processing techniques, which is impacting the quality and consumer appeal of the potential product.
The NutriFish project aims to right these wrongs, optimising the catch's potential with nutrient-packed, fish-enriched products, including a cooking sauce and maize meal for mothers and babies.
The fish sauce, which can be used in place of beans as a protein source, cooks in just 10 minutes, compared to the one- to three-hour preparation required for beans. This enables local families to cut down on energy requirements and reduce environmental impact while meeting nutritional requirements.
NutriFish has engaged street vendors who make chapatti, normally served with beans, to encourage them to sell the flatbread with the fish-enriched sauce to increase uptake.
Anaemia is also being tackled, with the low-iron deficiency commonplace in Uganda. The condition affects women of reproductive age and children under five in particular, with these groups struggling to access animal products, especially fish, due to unavailability and expense.
NutriFish has introduced a solar tent drying technology as an alternative to traditional open-air sun-drying for the fish products. The tent drying process is faster and more hygienic than traditional methods, coming with a host of sustainable benefits, too. Processed fish quality has improved, increasing shelf life from six to eight weeks to nearly five months, doubling the incomes for the mostly female processers.
Local women now own seven boats themselves in the Ntoroko landing site on Lake Albert, enhancing their earnings to an estimated US$1,200 per month from fish-trading activities.