CASE STORY OF
COLDSTORAGE HUB ESTABLISHED IN YAGOI, BONTHE DISTRICT
PUBLISHED July 29, 2022
“In 2022, the fishing town of Yagoi in Bonthe district will begin use of a newly constructed coldstorage facility”
Fishing contributes significantly to the economy, food security and employment in Bonthe district and, in the long run on the sustainability of fish stocks. The coastal fisheries of the district are typically artisanal, targeting fish stocks within the estuary rivers and the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Using paddle and small engine propelled canoes, this brings them into direct competition with fish trawling vessels. Across the fishery value-chain, women are mostly self-employed as fishmongers and traders, whiles men are fishermen or boat operators that transport people and cargo across the many rivers and open sea to different islands.
The Fishery Value Chain in Yagoi
The multi-dimensional fragility of Sierra Leone means that districts like Bonthe, are without critical services including stable electricity, potable drinking water, financial services and insufficient educational and health facilities. Fishing households are faced with income and livelihood insecurity due to their inability to access critical services related to the fishery value chain. Post-harvest losses first appear when fishers use poor quality nets and do not have the appropriate equipment in the canoes to store the fish after harvest enroute to Yagoi. At Yagoi, the lack of cold storage facilities means that fishermen are not able to store and preserve the fish harvest and so, are forced to sell at low prices to cover fishing expenses and earn an income. Fish traders in turn also have to sell to buyers in the market at low prices to ensure they do not make income losses. The lack of stable electricity and capital are some reasons why within the main port and fishing community of Yagoi, there is no cold storage facility to preserve fish. The lack of financial services means that the private sector within the community is unable to establish fishery related trading businesses such as the sale and supply of fishing tools, implements and equipment. Post-harvest losses first appear when fishers use poor quality nets and do not have the appropriate equipment on the canoes to store the fish enroute to Yagoi.
Assessing Yagoi for an improved Fishery Value Chain
SEND Sierra Leone together with its partner organisation Terra Tech Förderprojekte e.V conducted research to understand the multi-dimensional fragility of livelihoods within the Bonthe district and its communities including Yagoi. The research produced information related to socio-cultural lapses within the district, the obvious lack of private and government investment into critical infrastructure to support the fishery value-chain. Household were at high risk of livelihood insecurity and were constantly plagued with water-borne diseases due to the lack of access to potable drinking water. The two organisations taking into considerations the findings of these research, developed the Bonthe Island Fish Trading (BIFT) project in consultation with local stakeholders as an action that would contribute to the enhancement, social and income protection of primary actors in the fishery value chain.
“We have been going through a lot of suffering in doing our trade, our constraints and risks of traveling to Moriba town to buy ice blocks are now coming to an end…….”, Mustapha Kpaka, a fisherman in Yagoi stated"
Sustainable Investments for an Improved Fishery Value Chain
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), the Bonthe Island Fish Trading (BIFT) project began implementation in October 2021 and has since impacted the lives of over 5,000 rural beneficiaries.To enhance livelihood security of households dependent on the fishery value chain, addressing post-harvest losses was critical. To do this, the project has constructed a fishery business hub situated 2 kilometers away from the market port, made up of a 40ft cold storage facility, a fishing inventory shop, an ice-block production machine and a financial institution.
The 40ft Cold storage facility is the first of its kind in the Yargoi community and will serve over 3000 fisherfolk within Yargoi and all other surrounding communities of the busy fishing port. The facility allows fishermen and fish traders to store and preserve their fish harvest and other perishable products. By accessing the cold-storage facility, fisherfolk are able to reduce their post-harvest losses and increase their income as they only sell their fish harvest at fair market prices.
Additionally, the project financed the procurement and installation of an ice-block production machine to serve the off-site preservation of fish by fish traders particularly during the day at the markets. As one of the major constraints and costs fish-traders faced, the easier access to ice-blocks and cold storage services will drastically increase profits of fish-traders and reduce local inflationary rates thereby boosting the fish trading activities.
Situated within the same compound, the fishing inventory shop addresses the use of poor-quality fishing gears as a reason for post-harvest losses. With the inventory shop, fisherfolk have easier access to improved fishing gears such as approved fishing nets, boots, coolers to improve their fishing methods. The proximity of this shop, reduces the additional cost of transportation incurred in travelling to Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone to purchase fishing gear. Combined with the improved fishing practices sensitization sessions the project facilitates to all boat associations, the quality and quantity of fish harvests by the fisherfolk will improve.
Complementing the construction and operationalization of the fishery business hub by the BIFT project, Irish Aid through the Embassy of Ireland in Sierra Leone, financed the procurement and installation of a purified sachet water production machine to enhance the project’s target of improving access to potable drinking water. The sachet water production unit of the hub will supply over 50 bags of purified drinking water daily to the inhabitants of Yagoi and surrounding communities. This would drastically improve the access to potable drinking water and aid in the reduction of water contamination and water-borne diseases amongst rural residents.
The project using the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) has trained over 3,000 rural inhabitants on financial literacy models to enhance savings and investments into entrepreneurial activities. Initially after the trainings, savings kits were provided to these groups to enable them have save their resources together and access loans to invest into different businesses. To support growth and sustainability, a financial institution has been established within the business hub compound, to assist in the financial management of all VSLAs supported by the project and other residents of the Bonthe district who are not supported by the project. This action will enhance the access and adoption of financial services such as savings and loans within the district and lead to the creation of a more robust local economy driven by the fishery-value chain. With this improved access to finance, fisherfolk will access loans to procure fishing gear, establish alternative businesses or expand existing businesses.
A Better Tomorrow
“We are overwhelmed and our hearts are filled with happiness seeing these beautiful structures in our community and we cannot wait to witness its opening; we have been yearning for such development for the longest of time and thankfully God has made it possible for us through the help of SEND Sierra Leone and its partners Terra Tech and BMZ” Etta Beah, a fish trader averred with joy.
The BIFT Fishing Business Hub is slated to be formally opened to the general public in August 2022.