Fish traders in southern Malawi are being encouraged to improve their yields and increase incomes by using solar tents to dry their produce. Amy Pollock has more.
Traders in southern Malawi could soon have bigger fish to fry. A low-tech solar tent made from polythene stretched over a wooden frame is being used to dry fish more efficiently. Fish traders say it helps prolong the shelf life of the catch and fetches a higher price at market. (SOUNDBITE) (Chichewa) JENNIFER MUSSA, FISH TRADER, SAYING: "I can tell you that I am a very happy and thankful woman because of this solar dryer project." Agricultural innovation fund Cultivate Africa's Future is encouraging traders to improve processing methods. Fishing employs over 50,000 and is a crucial source of nutrition in Malawi, but 40 percent of fish is lost during processing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FISHERIES EXPERT, DR. MANGANI KATUNDU, SAYING: "So it reduces the amount of time that the fish processors would take to dry it. It also prevents loss of the fish due to predation... some birds and what have you and dust. And ideally it does increase the quality of fish." Fish here is mostly processed through solar drying, frying or smoking. The Australian-Canadian fund is also encouraging the use of energy saving kilns for smoking. (SOUNDBITE) (Chichewa) LOVENESS MPHONGO, FISH TRADER SAYING: "This method is effective and is a simpler way to smoke fish. We are using very little wood and it takes a short time to smoke lots of fish as you can see here," The new methods are expected to help reduce the losses and boost incomes for fish sellers. It's hoped the project can be extended to other fishing communities across Africa.