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Alexander Ford Policy, Economics and Institutions Branch FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Rome, Italy

Aina Randrianantoandro Omar Riego Peñarubia Product, Trade and Marketing FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department Rome, Italy

Over the past decade the FAO-Thiaroye processing technique (FTT), a healthier, more economic and environmentally sustainable method of fish smoking, has been introduced in fishing communities throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific. This case study examines the role of the FTT in West Africa, focusing on its function as a technology that reduces human health impacts and fish losses, improves fuel efficiency, increases product quality and facilitates access to international markets. The study also examines the role the FTT has played in enabling the social organization of the processors who use it and in advancing gender equality and women's empowerment in West Africa. Further, it highlights elements of the FTT that support the value chains of small-scale fisheries reliant on the smoked fish trade, and also their limitations and areas where further study is needed to understand the impact on the value chain and those involved. Finally, the case study presents recommendations to ensure management of the FTT is effective.

Keywords: FTT-Thiaroye kiln, smoked fish trade, organisational structures, capacity development, PAHs, value addition, cost-efficient technologies, gender inclusion.

In 2011, the fisheries sector in West Africa was worth USD 24 billion -- equivalent to 1.26 percent of the GDP of all African countries. People in West Africa depend on fish as a source of nutrition, protein and critical micronutrients. Around 12.3 million people in the region are employed in the fisheries sector; of these, an estimated 45 percent are women occupying post-harvest roles. In the informal seafood trade between states, dried or smoked fish accounts for 90 percent of the trade. However, fish processors sometimes struggle to produce good-quality and longer-lasting products. Challenges concerning fish processing include lack of access to credit for working capital, poor hygienic conditions of processing facilities, and the use of obsolete processing equipment (Ayilu et al., 2016).

Smoking is a traditional method for preserving fish commonly seen in West Africa that contributes to food security and livelihoods in the region (Table 3.1). In recent history, fish smoking has predominantly relied on the metal drum kiln and the Chorkor kiln (Brownell, 1983; Gordon, Pulis and Owusu-Adjei, 2011). The drum kiln (a kiln made from an oil drum) has a number of drawbacks: it is low in both capacity and fuel efficiency, and requires excessive product handling during processing, which exposes processors to the risk of burn injuries (Brownell, 1983). The low capacity invariably translates into high post-harvest losses during bumper seasons. To address these disadvantages, the Chorkor kiln was developed in the late 1960s through the collaborative efforts of the Food Research Institute of Ghana, FAO, and fish processors in Chorkor (a fishing community in Accra). It currently enjoys widespread use across Africa. However, the Chorkor kiln has its own deficiencies: it requires large quantities of fuel in order to be effective and does not filter smoke away from the processors.

TABLE 3.1 Top ten regionally traded fish species

English nameScientific nameTraded form in tradeShad, bongaEthmalosa fimbriataSmokedRound sardinellaSardinella auritaSmokedAnchovyEngraulis encrasicolusDried and smokedAtlantic bumperChloroscombrus chrysurusDried and smokedChub mackerelScomber japonicasSmokedPink shrimpsPenaeus notialisSmokedDeepwater rose shrimpParapaeneus longirostrisSmokedBlack-chinned tilapiaSarotherodon molanotheronSalt dried and smoked

Burning wood results in the production of four carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH): benzo(a)pyrene, chrysene, benz(a)anthracene and benzo(b) fluoranthene, together referred to as PAH4 in the context of fish smoking. During the fish smoking process, smoke from the wood coupled with high processing temperatures results in PAH4 deposits on the fish (Stolyhwo and Sikorski, 2005). These PAH4 compounds are known to incite pulmonary, integumentary and ocular complications among fish smokers. Many women fish smokers carry young children on their backs while working, making their infants susceptible to these risks as well. Moreover, the PAH4 residue on the smoked fish is thought to increase the risk of cancer among those who consume it, with diet accounting for 88--98 percent of human exposure to PAH (Farhadian et al., 2011).

PAH4 compounds in food have long been considered a risk by the European Union and in 2011 the European Commission updated its maximum levels to 12 μg/kg per kilo of smoked fish (European Commission, 2011). Partly in response to the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)1 checks resulting in shipments of smoked fish being detained, and sometimes rejected, due to elevated PAH4 levels, and partly in response to the outcry from fish processors (the majority of whom are women) regarding the health complications associated with the Chorkor and metal drum kilns, in 2013 FAO and the National Training Centre for Fish and Aquaculture Technicians (CNFTPA) in Senegal started developing the FAO-Thiaroye processing technique (FTT) for small-scale fish smoking operations (FAO, 2017) -- though the FTT had first been introduced to medium-scale, export-oriented fish processing units in Togo and Côte d'Ivoire in 2008. The technology is owned and licensed by FAO. As of today, the FTT is being used in more than a dozen African countries (Figure 3.1). It is used by at least four companies that process and export fish to the European Union and the United States of America and is currently being piloted in small-scale fishing communities in Sri Lanka, Micronesia (Federated States of) and the Philippines.


The design of the FTT kilns builds on that of the Chorkor kiln, and the kiln can even use component parts from the Chorkor (Figure 3.2). The FTT allows several processing steps to be combined into one: the smoking of the fish, plus the additional drying and storing of the final product (FAO, 2017; FAO 2019). The lid of the kiln not only covers the product during smoking and drying, but also protects it afterwards (Figure 3.3). The drying/smoking racks are removable and easy to clean, and made of heat-resistant materials, thereby ensuring a longer lifespan. One feature that is unique to the FTT is that the fuel is held in an ember furnace, which concentrates the heat on the product, thus reducing heat loss (which increases fuel efficiency) and also protecting those operating the kiln by containing the smoke. Another feature is the fat-collection tray. Finally, the FTT features an indirect smoke generator system consisting of two main components: (1) a barrel and metal pipe that can be shaped into a spiral or circular tube; and (2) a filter system, which includes a metal casing in which the filter is inserted. In relation to Chapter 7 of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines), this case study discusses the impact of the FTT on value chains and communities, focusing first on the technology itself and its contribution to fish loss reduction, value addition and cost efficiency (paragraph 7.5); then examining its impact on trade and market access (paragraph 7.6); and then discussing gender, livelihoods and social organization (paragraphs 7.2 and 7.4). Then follows a discussion of the limitations and lessons learned, and finally conclusions and recommendations for the future.



The case study was designed to provide an overview of the impact the FTT has had to date in the context of Chapter 7 of the SSF Guidelines. The aim in particular was to synthesize the key findings that pertain to paragraphs 7.2, 7.4, 7.5 and 7.6, with additional insights from experts in order to provide guidance for the future.

The first stage of the research involved a systematic review of all publicly available literature. This served a dual function, in that it primarily allowed for gaining an understanding of the FTT, while also identifying key stakeholders to interview in the second stage of the study. FAO is currently the predominant author in the FTT literature. However, other authors have also examined the fish smoking industry and its associated value chains in general, which has been helpful in providing recommendations for the FTT.

The second stage of the research involved discussing the FTT with experts, including people who have experience with fish processing technologies generally, or people who have been involved with the FTT directly. An interview guide was adopted to streamline this process and help focus the investigation (Appendix 1). The interview questions were adjusted according to the persons being interviewed and where their professional expertise lay, and also to eliminate questions that were eliciting the same responses. The range of people selected included representatives from development agencies, research/academia and community representatives. Interviewees were sourced from the literature review. Furthermore, the authors used their own networks to identify other professionals to interview. Again, this served a dual function in that it strengthened or corrected our understanding gained from the literature review, while also providing insights into the history of the FTT. This latter point was critical as it provided much of the basis for our policy recommendations.

One limitation to this method was the limited number of fishworkers interviewed, although we made up for this by interviewing the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements (CFFA), which has been directly involved in the installation of the kilns and has firsthand experience with the FTT. CFFA is a platform of NGOs based in Brussels that documents the development and environmental impacts of European Union fisheries relations on small-scale fishing communities in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. The core objective of CFFA is to promote the livelihoods and food security of coastal fishing communities, through information sharing, advocacy and dialogue between organizations in ACP countries, the private sector and European Union decision makers.

Since the 2011 change in the European Union regulations on PAH4 levels, certain research institutes have explored ways to adapt or develop technology to meet the new standards. However, the PAH4 levels remained too high, as was presented at the fourth session of the Workshop on Fish Technology, Utilization and Quality Assurance held in Elmina, Ghana in 2017 (FAO, 2018). Studies show that the FTT model meets the European Union regulatory levels, which are presently considered to be the global market regulatory benchmark (FAO, 2018). Data obtained from comparative fish smoking tests conducted by FAO (2018) show that products from the Chorkor kiln had PAH4 levels up to 33 times the European Union maximum limit (ML), whereas the PAH4 levels for FTT products were considerably lower than the maximum (Figure 3.4).

The type of fuel used greatly influences PAH4 deposits during combustion (Figure 3.5) (Bomfeh et al., 2016). For example, in Côte d'Ivoire, softwoods like the relatively abundant rubberwood should be avoided due to their very high PAH4 content. Other fuel types, such as hardwoods and coconut shells, are recommended instead. Although burning mangrove wood generates low levels of PAH4, its use should be limited and controlled given the ecological and economical importance of mangroves, especially in terms of aquatic and fishery resources, where they play a vital role as a spawning and nursery habitat for many aquatic species; and in terms of the ecosystem service they play in coastal protection. When charcoal is used, fuelwood consumption is significantly reduced. Further, because charcoal gives off very little smoke, it is easier to obtain smoked products that meet PAH safety standards. Likewise, adding stones such as siporex or pieces of baked earth retains heat in the kilns, thus reducing the amount of charcoal required by about 50 percent (FAO, 2015a).


The FTT's installation costs vary between USD 800 and USD 1 600 (Table 3.2). In addition to this upfront cost, there are other variables to be taken into account. These include the three tonnes of fresh fish required to meet the kiln's maximum daily capacity, as well as purchasing fuel, water and other raw materials; transport; communication; and distribution or marketing costs. Importantly, in order for the FTT to operate efficiently and fulfil its expected lifespan (\15 years for the frame and 3--12 years for the components), routine care is essential. This entails cleaning inside and around the kilns and removing the ashes and the waste from the lids and from the mesh of the removable racks (FAO, 2017; FAO, 2019a). Notably, using the FTT cuts smoking time in half compared to other kilns, thus providing processors with an opportunity to pursue other activities.

The FTT makes it possible to market safer and higher-quality products than previous systems (FAO, 2019a). Additionally, it significantly reduces post-harvest losses (PHL) and fuelwood consumption (FAO, 2016). To give some context, in Côte d'Ivoire it is estimated that PHL from Chorkor and drum kilns amount to 23 317 tonnes per year for a value of approximately USD 11.6 million, to which must be added 112 000 tonnes of wasted wood worth USD 3.7 million (FAO, 2016). In terms of public health, the processors who use the Chorkor kiln have reported unpleasant symptoms for the past 25 years, and they agree that these have been greatly reduced through the use of the FTT (CFFA, personal communication, 2019). Studies support this claim, showing that FTT users are less exposed to smoke-related pathologies than those who use traditional systems. Inherent health costs, which are estimated at USD 1 247 a year for medical consultations and hospitalizations, can be considered as opportunity costs in the economic evaluation. In summary, the safety, environmental, food, sanitary and socio- economic benefits of the FTT are well-established (Mindjimba, 2019).

TABLE 3.2 Comparative analysis of different fish smoking systems

Type of systemTECHNICAL CRITERIAMetal drumChorkorFTTType of constructionRudimentaryImprovedBased on existing kiln models while addressing their shortcomingsSmoking timeUp to 3 days1 day3–6 hoursFire and smoke controlVery limitedLimitedVery highSmoking techniqueSimultaneous smoking and dryingSeparate smoking and dryingSeparate smoking and dryingFish fat collection deviceNoneNoneIncludedSmoke filtering deviceNoneNoneIncludedECONOMIC CRITERIACost of kiln (USD)263451 600Smoking capacity (kg of fish per day)150–200200–3003 000Amount of wood used (kg) per 1 kg of fish3–5> 0.80.8Lifespan2 years3–15 years> 15 yearsEarningsAverageAverageHighAncillary jobsLimitedMediumVery highSOCIAL CRITERIAExposure to heat/smokeFrequentFrequentVery lowSafety and quality of smoked fishLesser qualityLesser qualitySafer and higher quality

Source: Mindjimba, 2019.

In terms of the value added or retained through better handling, using the FTT has yielded mixed results. FAO (2019) reported that although there were differences in the appearance and texture of FTT and Chorkor products, these differences did not affect consumer preference. Other studies not specifically related to the FTT have found that better-quality smoked fish can fetch up to 25 percent more at the market (Gordon, Pulis and Owusu-Adjei, 2011), but that consumer taste preferences take time to change (Asiedu, Failler and Beygens, 2018). FAO (2019) proposes that if consumers were educated on the safety of FTT-smoked products and the carcinogenic risks inherent in the older kilns, their preference might shift to FTT-smoked products, especially given that the preparation required for smoking fish in the FTT kilns is the same in terms of ingredients and flavourings used (Bomfeh et al., 2019).

Nevertheless, examples exist where the FTT has been fully adopted by processors and where value addition can be seen both in terms of the finished product and in other income-generating activities. The Women Fish Traders and Processors Cooperative of Abidjan (CMATPHA), a processors organization operating in Côte d'Ivoire, has started expanding into other areas of the smoked fish value chain such as the sale of food packaging items and basins, as well as diversifying their product range (e.g. sausages, croquettes, stuffed fillets, and fish fat-based products). CMATPHA members have also initiated various marketing strategies in their efforts to expand their customer base to boost their sales and income.

The majority of smoked fish originating from West Africa is destined for regional or national markets such as the Tuesday, Denu, or Dambai markets in Ghana, the Maiduguri market in Nigeria and the Chicago market in Cote d'Ivoire. Due to its strong trading networks, Ghana provides a good example of how trade and markets operate in West Africa, with supply chains extending into neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Togo and onward shipment to Nigeria (Figure 3.6) (CFFA, personal communication, 2019; Gordon, Pulis and Owusu-Adjei, 2011). FTT-smoked fish still competes with the more common Chorkor-smoked fish due to the differences in taste. As Asiedu, Failler and Beygens (2018) explain, this is because "fish consumers' taste is difficult to change ... irrespective of the quality and nutritional value of the fish species". Nevertheless, many of the processors in West Africa want to tap into the growing tourist, expatriate and middle-class markets typically found in urban areas like Accra and Kumasi.

FAO's Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM) has focused on enabling this market expansion. The FMM's third strategic objective in 2016 was to "reduce rural poverty", and part of this included enabling young aspiring entrepreneurs to set up their own businesses and create links with supermarket chains interested in adding FTT-processed fish to their inventory. The strategy proposes that fish processors (and, when applicable, the professional groups they are members of) benefit from the partnerships and know-how of in-country technical and financial partners in terms of: (i) management of microfinance services and mobile transfer and mobile banking; (ii) coaching young male and female entrepreneurs, particularly in local transport services, ice supplying and packaging inputs, chopper and unloading jobs, and in training and professionalization initiatives; (iii) partnerships with the private sector; and (iv) regional and national projects (FAO, 2019a; FAO, 2016). One of the policy outcomes of this project is awareness of the benefits of smoking fish using the FTT, which might in turn incentivize its procurement and use.


According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), the European Union imported 55 368 tonnes of fisheries products from the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) in 2016, making the European Union the third largest market for West Africa in terms of quantity after other ECOWAS countries and other African countries (Ayilu et al., 2016). Nevertheless, this trade is sometimes disrupted due to technical barriers, often involving the quality of the product when inspected on arrival in the EU. In 2003, it was estimated that approximately one in four airfreight consignments of smoked fish were detained at port of entry to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and 70 percent of these were subsequently destroyed2. This represents approximately 17.5 percent of airfreight consignments and is equivalent to 20 tonnes of product per annum, with a retail value of USD 460 000 to USD 753 000 at current prices (FAO, 2003). The value chain in Côte d'Ivoire lost about USD 2 million as a result of a self-imposed ban on smoked fish exports between 2006 and 2012 following failed checks by the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). PAH4 being the subject of notifications is not common, with countries from the ECOWAS region recording 33 notifications between 2006 and 2019, of which 8 suffered border rejections (RASFF Portal, 2020).

As a result, attempts have been bolstered to improve quality control and to adopt international standards at the point of origin in order to meet European demand. Demand for what the Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI, an affiliation of the Netherland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs) calls "ethnic foods" is growing, with 60 percent of consumers being indigenous to Europe -- perhaps suggesting that prices for smoked fish are not likely to stagnate or decrease (Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2018). Adherence to international standards is benefitting FTT smoking processors indirectly as well: for example, in Ghana, fishers must be registered by the Fisheries Commission in order to sell through international supply chains, which can be a mechanism of ensuring good fishing practices as well as checking illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices that affect the sustainability and biodiversity of the fishery resources (Pauly et al., 2002). It is estimated that IUU fishing costs about USD 2.3 billion in revenue annually to West African countries (Doumbouya et al., 2017), which in turn has a negative effect on domestic processors, who sometimes struggle to land a sufficient quantity of fish for smoking (CFFA, personal communication, 2019). This also poses threats to food security and the health of fish stocks, as well as having socio-economic consequences such as increases in poverty, organized crime, unemployment and financial insecurity (Daniels et al., 2016).

In the context of paragraph 7.6 of the SSF Guidelines, it is clear that the FTT can help facilitate access to international markets and catalyse further international trade. Government agencies tasked with standardization and regulation could prove critical by introducing "trade regulations and procedures that ... support regional trade products from" processors working in a small-scale context (FAO, 2015b, p. 11). Whether the FTT stimulates regional or national trade is still undetermined, given the fact that many of the consumers in West Africa prefer the taste of fish smoked using other kilns. However, as the class distribution in West Africa changes and health awareness builds, this could change. To stimulate this trade, West African governments and development agencies must be receptive to programmes designed to support young people, spreading awareness by directly engaging with small-scale processors and traders.

The design of the FTT enables women to better manage their lives in safer, healthier surroundings. By reducing the smoking time from 12 hours, with the Chokor kiln, to 6 hours with the FTT and producing a product that sells more readily, the new technology increases the time available to women for other pursuits, including caring for the household and children, as well as undertaking literacy and numeracy classes. Furthermore, a more marketable product has allowed for greater quantities of fish to be sold at premium prices, meaning that processors are seeing a greater return on their efforts (World Bank, FAO and IFAD, 2015). In the context of health, a recent study involving 635 women and three pilot sites showed how using the FTT instead of Chorkor kilns improves processors' health and overall well-being. The study revealed that fish processors using the FTT had fewer detrimental health issues than those using the Chorkor kiln. Additionally, the study found instances of domestic violence were more frequent in households where women used Chorkor kilns compared to those using FTT kilns. The reasons indicated by the study suggest that the higher rate of violence is "due to processors returning home late and getting up early due to the long time it takes to undertake processing activities" and therefore not having sufficient time to attend to domestic activities (FAO, 2019a; Anoh et al., 2017).

In addition to its functional benefits, the FTT has in some countries enabled greater social organization, both among the processors and in the society as a whole. From a top-down perspective, the African Union has played a role in financially supporting the coordination activities of socioprofessional groups of processors and traders from across the West African region in promoting the benefits of the FTT. FAO has also enabled dialogue between stakeholders, organizing and conducting trainings and workshops throughout West Africa.

From a bottom-up perspective, local organizations have been crucial for both the management of the processing sites and for raising awareness about the FTT. A comprehensive report of the FTT recommends that "only well-structured and organized socioprofessional groups [are advised] to run the FTT infrastructure in communal settings" (FAO, 2019a, p. 92). The report also recommends that before commencing an FTT implementation project, "identifying existing socioprofessional groups, women's groups, cooperatives and providing support to render them more cohesive and efficient, or setting up groups around existing income-generating activities that will then be able to manage the FTT platform, along with training in good handling, storage and packaging practices" is essential (FAO, 2019a, p. 87).

As an example, in 2013, four pilot platforms were carried out in Abobo-Doume, Braffedon, Guessabo and Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) involving 3 807 actors, including artisans, fish processors and producers. A holistic and participatory approach was used in working with the existing cooperatives as a basis for implementation and exchanges. Cooperatives were asked to designate members within their association to manage each of the four platforms (FAO, 2019a). The platforms were officially inaugurated and entrusted to beneficiary professional associations in March 2016. Examples such as these are increasingly common, and demonstrate the importance of having socioprofessional groups to manage the FTT. In a workshop at an Abidjan processing site, Mindjimba (2019) notes teamwork, leadership, good hygienic practices and maintenance of the general infrastructure, as attributes due to the organizational capacity of the cooperatives managing the FTT kilns. However, the report also notes that "there is a need to create [other incoming-generating activities] based on local potentials and market needs". There has been some increased job creation for local artisans in installing and maintaining the kilns. Still, the women present at the workshop identified "lack of organizational capacity" as a factor hindering them from further developing marketable goods.

Another example is seen in the African Confederation of Professional Artisanal Fisheries Organizations (COAPA3), which recently signed the Conakry Declaration at a workshop in Conakry, Guinea. The workshop was specifically designed to increase the valorization and marketing of FTT-smoked fish. The Declaration helps coordinate the aims of COAPA members advocating for better access to fish as raw material, the improvement of women fish operators' working conditions, the improvement of processing and commercialization activities, and the establishment of appropriate financing systems.

As with paragraph 7.6 of the SSF Guidelines, the FTT does not achieve gender equality and social organization in and of itself, but rather is a tool that can help bring people together to acheive these common goals. The introduction of FTT has "supported improvements to facilitate women's participation" in the value chain, which enables them to "enhance their livelihoods in the post-harvest sector" (paragraph 7.2). Equally, the employment opportunities and health benefits of the kiln can arguably been seen to contribute to the strengthening of local organizations (paragraph 7.4).

Despite the good practices enabled through the use of the FTT, there are still a number of issues surrounding its installation and uptake in West African small-scale fisheries. In terms of limitations, FAO (2016) estimates the cost of FTT installation at between USD 800 and USD 1 600, which is much too high for the budgets of small-scale processors. Mindjimba (2019) does stipulate that this cost can be recuperated within 1--5 years; however, this is conditional on running the kilns at their 3-tonne daily capacity. One detail to bear in mind is that processors are not obliged to purchase a full FTT kiln, but can opt instead for specific features (e.g. the smoke filtration component or fat collection tray) that are compatible with the Chorkor kiln. Nevertheless, the FTT kiln's large capacity can be a challenge, and further contributing to the problem is the lack of access to fish some processors are experiencing. In Côte d'Ivoire, there are instances where fish prices are too high for processors to afford. A similar issue has arisen in Senegal, where the activities of foreign industrial fleets are reducing the amount of small pelagics available for capture by small-scale fishers and consequently the processors (CFFA, personal communication, 2019). Although this is not a limitation of the FTT itself, it does make uptake difficult. This review recommends that governments support policy measures that would ensure processors have access to fish and at a price that is affordable.

Likewise there is a necessity to involve local authorities in order to make the installation of an FTT processing site successful, especially when deciding its location. For example, in 2017 the governments of Morocco and Côte d'Ivoire cofunded a processing site in Abidjan. Built at a cost of USD 4.5 million, the facility included cold storage, a children's play area and various commercial and administrative offices. It was designed to employ 5 000 people, with a total annual processing production of 20 000 tonnes (, 2019). However, the facility was located at an inconvenient distance from the actual market, and the local authorities were not able to relocate the market. Consequently, many of the processors returned to their previous processing site located near the market (CFFA, personal communication, 2019). A similar instance has occurred in Braffedon, Côte d'Ivoire, where a smaller facility has been neglected by its intended users from Grand-Lahou, due to the increased distance (20 kilometres from their homes) and the low rate of collective use of the FTT. Contrary to this, but equally serious, the facilities in Abobo-Doumé are reported to be overcrowded, with some 300 processors wanting to use the facility. All three of these examples point to the fundamental necessity of consulting all post-harvest actors (as stipulated in paragraph 7.1 of the SSF Guidelines) in order to determine a location that suits the intended users.

Lastly, there are examples of kiln mismanagement, typically in places where there was no social organization (e.g. socioprofessional organizations, cooperatives) beforehand. The lack of this organization has led to in-fighting and divisions within the community, as the responsibilities and benefits were not clearly delineated beforehand. A cooperative or association helps to mitigate such conflicts, as these ensure training of artisans in kiln maintenance, adequate distribution of fish to be smoked, and other managerial tasks. FTT kilns require trained artisans to ensure they are properly maintained (FAO, 2019a). The need for artisans has been highlighted in Côte d'Ivoire, specifically for manufacturing and assembling the kilns (FAO, 2019b). CFFA noted that social organizations are in a position to ensure that all members of the community that use the kilns have equal access to the fish procured from the fishers. Hence, it is key to establish an entity recognized by all parties to be responsible for the daily use of the kiln.

Aside from the cost, there are no drawbacks intrinsic to the actual kiln. The negative experiences with the kiln are attributable to problems with its management. Thus in order to make the adoption of the FTT successful and sustainable in a given context, it is important that all the relevant actors are consulted before installation, and that those responsible for its management have clearly identified roles and responsibilities.

The results of this case study support those of previous studies extolling the superiority of the FTT. The study examined the paragraphs of Chapter 7 of the SSF Guidelines most relevant to deployment of the FTT. Though the kilns address all of the provisions to varying degrees, it is through paragraphs 7.2, 7.4, 7.5 and 7.6 that we are able to comprehensively assess the impact of the kiln.

As a technology that both accommodates the needs of female processors and adds value to the final product, the FTT facilitates overcoming two challenges severely hindering fish smoking value chains in West Africa -- namely, the hazardous working conditions of the women smoking the fish, and the high levels of PAH4 deposits that prevent export to higher-value markets. Critically, it must be recognised that the FTT in and of itself does not overcome these barriers, relevant training and organisation among the processors is also key to overcoming these barriers. As for its limitations, the FTT is an expensive investment for low-income processors, and uptake depends on consistent access to raw materials and fish. This is an issue that states can address with policies that ensure small-scale fish producers, and the processors that depend on them, have access to sufficient fish (equivalent to 3 tonnes per kiln, per day). For the long-term sustainability of the FTT, social organizations need to play a central role in managing of the kilns. The impact the FTT will have on small-scale fish smoking value chains is not yet fully understood, but given the strengths the kilns exhibits (Table 3.2) it may be considered a disruptive technology. As such one aspect to consider in future studies will be the kiln's contribution to the restructuring of power dynamics in the value chain.

In order to encourage the uptake of FTT in West Africa and other regions of the world, this case study provides a series of recommendations, drawing on those made in Mindjimba (2019), FAO (2016), FAO (2017), FAO (2019) and by CFFA during the research for this case study.

Recommendations for loss reduction, value addition and cost efficiency

  • Adapt the equipment to each site's specificities, including user needs and the main target fish species (i.e. large trays for small fish).

  • Strengthen good hygienic practices in general, and systematically treat well-water and rainwater used to wash utensils and raw fish prior to smoking, according to prevailing standards.

  • Achieve initial consensus among the processors regarding those responsible for the maintenance and running of the kiln. Prior training and demonstration surrounding the use of the kiln should be provided to the processors and the artisans tasked with its maintenance.

  • Strengthen the capacity of fish smokers, artisans and government staff responsible for providing monitoring and support (e.g. smoking techniques, FTT kiln use and maintenance, bookkeeping and income statements, monitoring and commercial strategies).

Recommendations for trade and market access

  • Place increased emphasis on data collection. A sound, consistent system for recording transactions should be introduced alongside the FTT kilns, one that takes into account characteristics such as volume processed and finances.

  • Target more rewarding markets for FTT products (e.g. supermarkets, diplomatic representatives and international organizations, resident expatriates, tourists, restaurants, and external markets) by meeting their requirements in terms of quality assurance and control, traceability and supply dependability.

  • Strengthen awareness among authorities, the local community and other stakeholders concerning the trade and health benefits of the kilns.

  • Update national regulations regarding PAH with a view to guaranteeing fishery products' traceability and quality control.

  • States need to ensure that industrial fleets operating in their waters are managed in view of the needs of small-scale fishers and their associated value chains, to ensure that the processors and other small-scale fishery actors have access to sufficient fish.

Recommendations for gender, livelihoods and social organization

  • Promote the role of women in the value chain.

  • Raise awareness among processors, consumers, decision makers, competent authorities and local media outlets about the comparative advantages of the FTT, in particular the fact that healthy and higher-quality products are the result of using this new technique.

  • Choose processing facility implementation sites carefully -- usually as a compromise between several considerations (e.g. accessibility, distance, viability, security) -- in order to reach the largest number of potential users.

  • The involvement of local (administrative, municipal, traditional and territorial agencies) authorities alongside the processors and other value chain actors is essential to ensuring the success and sustainability of the processing facilities (e.g. raising stakeholders' awareness and organizing producers). These authorities are also key to building the processing sites, including creating or rehabilitating access roads and partially financing the infrastructure.

  • Set up child-care facilities to facilitate and encourage women's participation.

  • Social change interventions as a transformative approach in raising awareness on gender is recommended in order to change perceived attitudes on roles of men and women, especially among men. 2017. Le point de débarquement aménagé Mohammed VI de Locodjro livré., 28 November 2017.

Anoh, K.P., Ossey, Y.B., Ouattara, S., Dembélé, A.A. & Traoré, K.S. 2017. Santé des femmes transformatrices, sécurité sanitaire des produits et impact environnemental des systèmes de fumage de poisson dans les communautés de pêche artisanale, étude pour des systèmes alimentaires durables. Projet NEPAD dans les communautés de pêche de Guessabo. IGT/APCN (unpublished).

Asiedu, B., Failler, P. & Beygens, Y. 2018. Ensuring food security: an analysis of the industrial smoking fishery sector of Ghana. Agriculture & Food Security, 7(38).

Ayilu, R.K., Antwi-Asare, T.O., Anoh, P., Tall, A., Aboya, N., Chimatiro, S. & Dedi, S. 2016. Informal artisanal fish trade in West Africa: Improving cross-border trade. Program Brief: 2016-37. Penang, Malaysia, WorldFish.

Bomfeh, K., De Meulenaer, B., Jacxsens, L., Amoa-Awua, W.K., Tandoh, I. & Afoakwa, E.O. 2016. Effects of FTT Thiaroye components and processing conditions on the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) smoked fish. 7 pp. Unpublished.

Bomfeh, K., Jacxsens, L., Amoa-Awua, W.K., Tandoh, I., Afoakwa, E.O., Gamarro, E.G., Ouadi, Y.D. & De Meulenaer, B. 2019. Reducing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in smoked fish in the Global South: a case study of an improved kiln in Ghana. J Sci Food Agric., 99(12): 5417--5423.

Brownell, B. 1983. A practical guide to improved fish smoking in West Africa. UNICEF.

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Doumbouya, A., Camara, O.T., Mamie, J., Intchama, J.F., Jarra, A., Ceesay, S., Guèye, A., Ndiaye, D., Beibou, E., Padilla, A. & Belhabib, D. 2017. Assessing the effectiveness of monitoring control and surveillance of illegal fishing: the case of West Africa. Front Mar Sci, 4: 50. (available at

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FAO. 2015a. Guide for developing and using the FAO-Thiaroye Processing Technique (FTT-Thiaroye). Rome. (available at <

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FAO. 2016. Compte rendu final du projet "Projet d'appui au renforcement des capacités et du cadre réglementaire en matière de prévention et réduction des pertes post-capture des produits halieutiques", Côte d'Ivoire. Rome. 14 pp.

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FAO. 2018. Forth meeting of professionals/experts in support of fish safety, technology and marketing in Africa. Rome. (available at FAO. 2019a. Improving rural services for small-scale fisheries using a technological platform approach. Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular, FIAM/C1180>. Rome. (available at

FAO. 2019b. FAO-Thiaroye processing technique: Towards adopting improved fish smoking systems in the context of benefits, trade-offs and policy implications in selected developing countries. Rome. (available at

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Gordon, A., Pulis, A. & Owusu-Adjei, E. 2011. Smoked marine fish from Western Region, Ghana: a value chain assessment. USAID Integrated Coastal and Fisheries Governance Initiative for the Western Region, Ghana. WorldFish Center. 46 pp.

Mindjimba, K. 2019. Study on the profitability of fish smoking with FTT-Thiaroye kilns in Côte d'Ivoire. Rome, FAO.

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Interview Guide for FTT-Thiaroye Kiln Interviews - What is your experience with the FTT-Thiaroye kiln and/or other fishing smoking technologies?

  • What aspects about the FTT-Thiaroye kiln do you think set it apart from other fish smoking technologies?

  • Would you agree that the FTT-Thiaroye kiln is a gender sensitive technology? Why?

  • Is the FTT-Thiaroye kiln helping West African fishing smoking populations access new markets?

  • Do you think it will continue to grow in popularity? Why?

  • What do you think are the major challenges to the FTT-Thiaroye kiln's uptake?

  • Has the FTT-Thiaroye kiln helped create strong social organisation? Why?

  • What recommendations would you make to policy makers to increase the benefits promised by the FTT-Thiaroye kiln?

Source: Zelasney, J., Ford, A., Westlund, L., Ward, A. and Riego Peñarubia, O. eds. 2020. Securing sustainable small-scale fisheries: Showcasing applied practices in value chains, post-harvest operations and trade. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper No. 652. Rome, FAO.

  1. The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) is a system for reporting food safety issues within the European Union. 

  2. Not all of the product detained was due to prohibited levels of PAH4. The main reasons why smoked fish consignments are detained are smoked fish is smuggled in among other goods; packaging is inadequate; insect infestation; establishment number stapled on the box rather than written on; health certificates not filled in correctly. 

  3. COAPA Member States: Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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