In an earlier post, we wrote about fisheries activity in Georgia, a country in the Caucasus with considerable marine resources.  Georgian fishers harvest 60 000 metric tonnes of Black Sea anchovies (Engraulis encrasicolus) annually.

Currently, most of these anchovies are sold fresh to Turkey or processed into fish meal and oil. Georgia would like to meet standards to export its Black Sea anchovies directly to the European Union (EU), but it will have to make necessary changes to its legislation and to meet EU standards for its fish inspections, certification systems, and laboratories. Georgia has been working together with FAO in order to develop these capacities.

You can read more about FAO’s technical cooperation project to improve Georgia’s  fish inspection here.

A second activity between Georgia and FAO has focused on adding value to the Black sea anchovies, with the eventual aim to boost the earnings of Georgia’s small-scale fishers.

A study visit was jointly organized by FAO and the InfoSAMAK, a centre for marketing and advisory services for fishery products in the Arab region.

The visit brought Georgian entrepreneurs to Morocco to train on fish processing for value addition of anchovies.

Morocco was selected because the country is on the list of third countries authorized to export to the EU, thereby providing to Georgian processors insight into the level of performance required to access the international markets.

In Agadir, the anchovy processors of various sizes – small, medium, and large – were visited. All three companies visited have access to European markets.

The Georgian delegation also visited the Specialized Centre of Value added and Technology of Marine Products.

The Moroccan experts provided explanation and training to the Georgian delegates on a variety of marinated anchovies produced and the different recipes and formats aimed at specific clientele in the various foreign markets.

The visits aso included guided tours of the factories and the Specialized Centre of Value Addition and Technology of Marine Products, as well as question and answer sessions with ten Moroccan managers to further explore processing techniques.A variety of marinated anchovies and the different recipes and formats aimed at specific clientele

According to Esther Garrido Gamarro, FAO Food Safety and Quality Officer , who organized the study visit together with INFOSAMAK. “These visits were extremely useful for the Georgian delegation.

They were especially interested in what they learned by observing and interacting with the smaller enterprises. There in then smaller factories, they began to see the possibilities for such enterprises in their own country, especially because major investments are not required for anchovy processing.

They also had the opportunity to observe first-hand  how anchovies processing is actually quite an artisanal activity even when processing for international markets. This translates well into the Georgian reality.”

“Another interesting development was that during this visit the Georgian delegation was also pleased to see a good deal of interest from in Georgian Black Sea anchovies from their Moroccan counterparts.  The price of Georgian anchovies was considered quite attractive. The Georgians and Moroccans also discussed concrete possibilities for trading semi-processed anchovies, another interesting potential market opportunity for then Georgian entrepreneurs.”

This South-South opportunity for training, information and capacity building was an extremely useful component within the larger project to improve conditions in the Georgian fisheries sector to allow them access to EU markets.  Possibilities to add value to their products, such as seasoning anchovies, provides Georgian entrepreneurs additional possibilities to boost income on their products.

The next time you eat a pizza with anchovies, the topping may well originate from the Georgian shores of the Black Sea, and marinated with techniques learned in Morocco.

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