This report is based on surveys carried out in Burundi, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia,Ghana, Mali, Senegal, the Sudan and Uganda to identify the various types of fermentedfishery products, their processing characteristics and economic importance. It wasobserved that fermented fish processing is an artisanal activity and the processes differ from one country to another. Three basic methods were identified: fermentation withsalting and drying; fermentation and drying without salting; and fermentation with saltingbut no drying. It was also observed in the study that, unlike in Southeast Asian countries,fermented fishery products in Africa are usually whole or in cut pieces, and are not apaste or sauce. Fermented fish is used in Africa both as a condiment and as food fish.Fermented fishery products contribute to protein intake of the people especially those inthe rural hinterland where fresh fish is not readily available. Curing by fermentation wasfound to be an important method of preservation particularly because poor quality fish or unpopular species of fish are usually processed in this way. For this reason, fermentationhelps to salvage fish which would otherwise have been thrown away. Post harvest lossesin African artisanal fisheries may thus be lower than often assumed. The sanitaryconditions of fermented fish production were generally found to be poor and processingmethods were not standardized. In the light of the observations made, somerecommendations have been suggested to improve quality in order to enhance intra-regional trade in fish and fishery products.
Artisanal fish processing remains the predominant and most important method of fishpreservation in Africa. The principal methods are smoking, sun-drying, salting,fermentation, grilling and frying. These processes may either be used alone or combinedin order to achieve the desired product. For instance, smoking is often accompanied bydrying. Similarly, salting and sun-drying are often combined to get a well preservedproduct. Invariably, the final product is distinguished by peculiar qualities such as aroma,flavour and colour according to the consumer's preference.The choice of a particular processing method is greatly influenced by the area'sgeographical location, socio-economic factors and the food habits of the local people. For instance, due to the availability of fuel wood and solar salt in Ghana, a lot of fish issmoked, fermented or salted and dried. These cured fishery products are the most popular form in which fish is generally consumed in Ghana. A Ghanaian housewife will normallyuse different types of cured fishery products to prepare the family meal in order toachieve a desirable flavour in the soup or stew which is eaten with the traditional starchystaples such as cassava, plantain, yam, rice, etc.Fermentation is one method of fish curing in which the development of a distinctiveflavour in the final product is the principal objective. Therefore, this product is mainlyused as a condiment in the preparation of traditional sauces.