The Child Development Foundation in conjunction with Young Professionals in Agricultural Development (YPAD) on Saturday trained the women in Tarkwa Bay on modern methods of fish and coconut processing.
The training was part of the group’s ‘Good Governance Grassroots Project,’ a sustainable livelihood project aimed at improving the livelihood of women in the island community.
In Tarkwa Bay, the women engage mostly in producing smoked fish, cacahuete (peanut), and coconut products such as coconut oil and chips.
Akin Showemimo, a professional fish farmer and the local representative of YPAD, said it was important to teach the women the modern processing methods as well as show a practical demonstration of the training.
“Many of these women sell in local markets or through hawking which would not pay them premium,” Mr Showemimo said.
“So, part of the training is to teach them how to process these products in healthy and professional ways and teach them how to develop a market for themselves in the modern world and this will thereby improve their standard of living.”
Elizabeth Agansu, the women leader of the community, said they had acquired new knowledge through the training.
“This training and project would bring development to our businesses,” Mrs Agansu said.
She, however, noted that although they had learnt modern methods of food processing, using gas cylinders would be difficult and capital intensive because they would have to move the cylinders out of the island for refilling.
After consultations, the women agreed it would be more beneficial to use charcoal and the oven provided for them by the trainers.
Valentina Fiazuli, one of the beneficiaries, said she learnt a lot during the training.
“For instance, we don’t dry catfish in this community, we only specialise in our local fish but the trainer taught us the whole processes involved in drying catfish.
“They also built us a kitchen and provided us with equipment such as the oven for drying fish, cooker, drainers, bowls, and others. These would really help our business.”
Francisca Chiedu, the initiator of the project and the trustee of Child Development Foundation, said the project was funded by the U.S. Consulate in Nigeria.
“The project was borne out the problems highlighted by the members of the community during our Good Governance Grassroots Project that was done in April 2017.
“The women of the community mentioned that they needed a market but we realize it would be difficult to create a market for them because most people would not want to travel on water just to buy their goods, so, we had to device another alternative means which was to build them a kitchen and train them on what they do best which is production of smoked fish and coconut products.”
Last year, Ms Chiedu was part of an advocacy group that engaged members of the Tarkwa Bay community in discussions on the promotion of good governance at grassroots levels.
Ms Chiedu said this latest initiative was done in partnership with the Carrington Youth Alumni Fellowship.
“As part of the project, we built a kitchen for the women in the community and provided them with industrial oven, industrial stoves, tables, drainers, basins and other equipment they need to process their fish and coconut in a healthy and professional way.
“We intend to also get them a NAFDAC registration number for the goods they produce and also link them with investors and buyers in the modern market.”
The opening of the women’s kitchen and exhibition of food products was graced by leaders of the community who expressed their gratitude to the execution of such a project and also encouraged the women to make a good use of the facility and equipment that had been provided for them.