Food Heroes: Cameroon’s shrimp entrepreneur [+video]

UN News | Anastasie Obama, a Cameroonian woman who set up her own smoked shrimp business, has been recognized by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) as a Food Hero, for her contribution towards unlocking the potential of selling shellfish locally and abroad.

Cameroon sits on the Atlantic coast where Western and Central Africa meet. It was named “Rio dos Camarões” or, “River of Prawns”, by Portuguese explorers, because of the abundance of the crustaceans they discovered in the area.

“As a little child, I was always fascinated to see women preparing seafood. When I was seven years old and I was still going to school, I would buy shrimp for my aunt, I would smoke it and then we would sell it. That’s how my business in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon began, some years ago.

Shrimp is Cameroon’s main seafood export product., by © FAO/Rocco Rorandelli
I used to cut wood at home and do the smoking and distribute in the village. It was a small operation and I didn’t even have an oven. My husband was very supportive, and I started getting more clients and our shrimp was being sold abroad.

With the little means that we shrimp smokers have, we sell and make a little profit to cover our cost. It’s not enough but we make do.

Today, shrimp is Cameroon’s main seafood export product. I have heard that the shrimp sector employs around 1,500 people and I believe shrimp is healthy food which is eaten by many.

One of the problems we face is that it is hard for us to get fresh seafood and to conserve it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has depressed the local market even more. If we had some capital, we would get a cold chamber to keep our fish and only smoke it when we had an order.

I and others in the business have been supported by FISH4ACP, a global initiative for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

It is helping us to unlock the potential of the shrimp sector in Cameroon and support us in making this value chain more competitive and sustainable.

Ultimately, this will improve our livelihoods as well as contributing to economic growth, increased food security and a reduction in the sector’s ecological footprint.

FISH4ACP is led by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) with funding from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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3 comments

  1. this is exactly what i have been saying.we do not need the goverment to creat a vibrant industry.in the video above she is saying that they are finding it difficult to secure raw materials.this resume my thinking that we first need to creat farms producing the raw materials before controlling the secondary sector which is transformation.shrimp farming in a multibillion dollar industry in equador china,india srilanka and bangladesh.let us say that equador gote its original stock from cameroon in the sixties.to control the whole channel,first we must grow the raw materials entering the formulation of feed,then setup hatcheries followed by ponds or cages suspended on lakes.

  2. As the guy said domestic territories should be enlarged for domestic processing and local fishing of products to be sustained ,if selling to the local market is unprofitable its only because he hasn’t got that situation .Bah ACHO @ our nature can naturally give us the produce as long as unlawless industrial forgiven trawlers stop coming in at spawning times .there was a full international official report explaining the problem for this part of the coastline in english back in the 80s .The shrimp can’t get back to the inner coastal waters and rivers ,if they keep being unlawfully fished further out .Shrimp farming is silly and expensive to do in comparison spawning surveillance .and simple rules to allow them to multiply.

  3. PHYRNE,,,,, have you ever done shrimp farming?the main components entering the composition of shrimp feed is soy beans, insects, corn and fish meal. Once we produce this raw materials. The cost of production is reduced by 80 percent compared to those who buy it. To say that we just need to protect and control fishing while others develop multi billion dollars fish industry invading our market is irrational. Here is a sector that can absorb millions of people providing steady jobs with average wages of 200 us dollars according to my experiments. Once we master the whole chain of production from feed to hatcheries. Every stage employ millions of people even with use of high precesition production technology.