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Mechanized Processing and Value Addition for Fish Products

From Catch to Cuisine: Enhancing Fish Quality and Sustainability

This technology is a fish processing and preservation method involving the use of equipment such as solar tent dryers and smoking kilns. It addresses the challenge of fish's high perishability by improving shelf-life and enhancing taste and nutritional value. Solar dryers offer a low-cost alternative to refrigeration, and smoking kilns utilize smoke to kill microorganisms while drying the fish. These methods enable the production of various value-added fish products, providing economic opportunities, reducing post-harvest losses, and contributing to food quality and market appeal.


This technology is TAAT1 validated.


Scaling readiness: idea maturity 8/9; level of use 7/9

1500 USD

Handheld electric fish scaler

1,000 USD

Filleting equipment

2,500 USD

Equipment for skinning and deboning 10 to 20 fish/minute

2,000 USD

A greenhouse-style solar dryer 15 m × 8 m with capacity of 850 kg fish per batch


Patent granted


Fish processing and preservation technologies play a vital role in addressing several issues in the industry:

  • Post-Harvest Losses: Freshly caught fish are highly perishable, and without proper processing and preservation, significant post-harvest losses occur due to bacterial activity and oxidation.
  • Temperature Sensitivity: High ambient temperatures in many regions accelerate the spoilage of fish, making it crucial to act quickly in processing and preserving the catch.
  • Complex Equipment Dependency: While mechanized equipment like electric scalers, cutters, and solar dryers can enhance processing efficiency, their availability and maintenance might pose challenges, particularly in resource-constrained areas.
  • Energy Consumption: Traditional smoking kilns may consume significant energy and time, making it necessary to explore energy-efficient alternatives for smoke control and hygiene.
  • Skill and Job Opportunities: Transitioning to mechanized processing may require training and skill development for workers in the industry. However, this also presents an opportunity to create jobs in processing, particularly when meeting sanitation standards.
  • Processing Time Variability: The time required for processing different sizes of fish can vary, which needs to be considered in the production process to ensure uniform product quality.
  • Alternative Fuel Sources: The dependence on charcoal for smoking kilns raises concerns about deforestation and sustainability, prompting exploration of alternative fuel sources for generating heat and smoke.


  • Fish processing and preservation technologies extend the shelf life of highly perishable fish, reducing post-harvest losses.
  • These methods improve the palatability, taste, and nutritional value of fish products, enhancing their market acceptance.
  • Solar tent dryers and smoking kilns are cost-effective and widely used, eliminating the need for refrigeration during transport and storage.
  • Value-added products like fish powder, fillets, and sausages are manufactured, contributing to food quality and market appeal.
  • Mechanized equipment, such as electric scalers and deboning machines, streamline fish processing, reducing manual labor and increasing efficiency.
  • Improved smoking kiln designs reduce energy consumption, processing time, and enhance smoke control and hygiene.
  • Solar dryers provide a low-cost alternative for fish drying, using readily available materials and reducing dependency on complex equipment.
  • These technologies are adaptable to different fish sizes, providing flexibility in processing a variety of fish species.
  • Fish processed using these methods maintain high quality, with smoke acting as a natural antimicrobial agent.
  • These technologies not only preserve fish but also offer employment opportunities and meet sanitation requirements, benefiting local communities.

Key points to design your business plan

This technology is beneficial for three main groups: manufacturers, resellers, and end users (farmers).


Manufacturing the equipment of fish processing enhances efficiency, and adds value to the final products. To effectively enter this market, consider the following steps:

  • Source the raw materials required for manufacturing the equipment from reliable suppliers or manufacturers.

  • Identify efficient transportation methods to transport the equipment to various distribution points or end-users.

Explore suitable storage facilities to store the manufactured equipment safely before distribution or installation.

Your potential customers include wholesale distributors of equipment to retailers, as well as development projects, government agencies, and NGOs involved in fisheries and aquaculture initiatives.

Building strong partnerships with wholesale distributor networks is crucial for success. These partnerships will help ensure efficient distribution and reach a broader customer base.


Selling the equipment of fish processing offers a valuable solution while fostering closer engagement with users and reducing significant harvest losses commonly experienced in the fish processing industry.

To successfully enter this market, consider the following steps:

  • Source the equipment from countries like Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, where the technology is readily available and manufactured.

  • Identify efficient transportation methods to ensure timely delivery of the equipment to customers or distribution points.

Explore suitable storage facilities to store the equipment safely before distribution or installation.

Determine the cost of the technology, considering that there are many types and sizes of the equipment.

Target potential customers including fish farmers, development projects, and farmers' cooperatives or associations involved in fish processing and value addition activities.


Utilizing mechanized processing and value addition technology for fish products enhances productivity, improves product quality, and contributes to environmental sustainability in the fishing industry. Moreover, integrating this technology can result in cost savings, efficiency gains, and increased market competitiveness.

As key partners, you will need sellers. you also need to:

  • Develop a business plan and secure funding for equipment and premises.
  • Train staff on safe and hygienic processing practices.
  • Ensure a steady supply of fish for optimal facility operation.
  • Access reliable utilities and fuel affordably.
  • Market finished products to maintain cash flow.

Regarding the cost structure:

  • Determine the type and the size of the equipment you need for your business. An imported, handheld electric fish scaler costs 1,500 USD and fileting equipment is sold for 1,000 USD. Tabletop equipment for skinning and deboning with a capacity of 10 to 20 fish per minute is sold on international markets at 2,500 USD. A large greenhouse-style solar dryer 15 m long and 8 m wide on a concrete floor that has a carrying capacity of 850 kg fish per batch can be constructed for about 2,000 USD. Small Plexiglas dryers 1.75 m long and 1.5 m wide cost only 400 USD. Manually operated fish smoking kilns of medium-sized units running on charcoal and with a thermometer, able to smoke and dry up to 100 kg of fish cost about 700 USD to build. A fully automated kiln with a capacity of 150 kg fish per batch sells for 3,500 USD. Charcoal, and electricity may represent 30% to 40% of the operational expenses. 

This initial investment is offset by the long-term savings in fuel costs, as mechanized systems often utilize renewable energy sources such as solar power or efficient fuel combustion.


Positive or neutral impact

Adults 18 and over
Positive high
The poor
Positive low
Under 18
Positive low
Positive high

Positive or neutral impact

Climate adaptability
It adapts somewhat well
Adaptability for farmers
It helps a lot
It doesn't hurt them
Carbon footprint
It reduces emissions a little
It makes a big difference
Soil quality
It doesn't harm the soil's health and fertility
Water usage
It uses the same amount of water

Countries with a green colour
Tested & adopted
Countries with a bright green colour
Countries with a yellow colour
Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burundi Burkina Faso Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti Côte d’Ivoire Eritrea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Cameroon Kenya Libya Liberia Madagascar Mali Malawi Morocco Mauritania Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Republic of the Congo Rwanda Zambia Senegal Sierra Leone Zimbabwe Somalia South Sudan Sudan South Africa Eswatini Tanzania Togo Tunisia Chad Uganda Western Sahara Central African Republic Lesotho
Countries where the technology has been tested and adopted
Country Tested Adopted
Angola Tested Adopted
Benin Tested Adopted
Burundi Tested Adopted
Côte d’Ivoire Tested Adopted
Democratic Republic of the Congo Tested Adopted
Ethiopia Tested Adopted
Ghana Tested Adopted
Kenya Tested Adopted
Madagascar Tested Adopted
Malawi Tested Adopted
Mali Tested Adopted
Mozambique Tested Adopted
Nigeria Tested Adopted
Rwanda Tested Adopted
Senegal Tested Adopted
Tanzania Tested Adopted
Togo Tested Adopted
Uganda Tested Adopted
Zambia Tested Adopted
Zimbabwe Tested Adopted

This technology can be used in the colored agro-ecological zones. Any zones shown in white are not suitable for this technology.

Agro-ecological zones where this technology can be used
AEZ Subtropic - warm Subtropic - cool Tropic - warm Tropic - cool

Source: HarvestChoice/IFPRI 2009

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are applicable to this technology.

Sustainable Development Goal 2: zero hunger
Goal 2: zero hunger
Sustainable Development Goal 3: good health and well-being
Goal 3: good health and well-being
Sustainable Development Goal 5: gender equality
Goal 5: gender equality
Sustainable Development Goal 12: responsible production and consumption
Goal 12: responsible production and consumption

  • Preparation: Start by removing scales and gut contents from whole fresh fish. For catfish without scales, use pliers to pull skin away from flesh and bones.
  • Sanitization: Ensure all tools and surfaces used for processing are regularly sanitized with clean water and disinfectant to maintain hygiene.
  • Staff Hygiene: Staff hygiene is critical for food safety. Ensure workers use gloves, hairnets, and overalls to maintain cleanliness during processing.
  • Cutting and Deboning: After cleaning, the fish can be cut into fillets, skinned, and deboned as needed.
  • Drying: For drying, consider using solar tent dryers. Sunlight heats the air inside the tent, gently desiccating the fish. A motorized fan can accelerate convection and air circulation for efficient drying.
  • Positioning Tents: Position the tents facing the prevailing wind to improve air movement. Well-constructed units are rainproof and can even be operated in bad weather.
  • Smoking (Optional): If desired, smoking fish can add flavor and provide short-term preservation. The optimal smoking temperature ranges from 45°C to 70°C. Smoking for one to two hours provides an appetizing taste, but you can extend it for four to six hours for complete drying.

Last updated on 22 May 2024