The Ministry of Fisheries is to target key institutions like the prisons, military, schools and colleges in the production of catfish and tilapia as part of a new initiative to help reduce the country’s fish import bill.
The country consumes an estimated 980,000 metric tonnes of fish per annum, out of which about 450,000 metric tonnes are produced locally. The remaining 530,000 metric tonnes are imported, from mainly Asia and Europe, to make up the shortfall in local production.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Fish Farming for Food and Jobs’, is expected to create about 250,000 direct and indirect jobs along the value chain.
Key components of the initiative are provision of improved fingerlings for farmers, subsidising fish feed, dedicated extension services delivery, and market development.
The Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development – Francis Kinsley Ato Cudjoe, speaking at the 8th National Farmers’ Forum in Kumasi – said the ministry in the medium-term intends to take advantage of improved technologies in aquaculture to modernise the sector.
This, he noted, will be done to improve productivity and profitability so that it can help achieve food and nutritional security.
In furtherance of this, he said, a platform for aquaculture has been created for players along its value chain. The platform, he noted, provides business advisory services through seminars, drama, and familiarisation visits
“The sole aim is to sensitise the public on prospect of aquaculture; promote the consumption of fish, especially the catfish; gather concerns of stakeholders; provide answers to their questions and offer solutions to the challenges which affect the industry. It is also to establish and strengthen business ties among players along the aquaculture value chain,” he said.
Mr. Ato Cudjoe said it is the hope of his ministry that even after the Farmers’ Day celebrations, discussions on the sector will continue and among others attract investors into the sector.
The Managing Director of Agricultural Development Bank (adb), Dr. John Kofi Mensah, stressed the importance of farming – not only to the national economy but to human existence.
He disclosed that the bank in its quest to push government’s agenda for agricultural transformation maintained its support for the Farmers’ Day celebrations, totalling GH¢650,000.
“It is our hope to do more in future to inspire many more of our gallant farmers and fishers, who labour day and night to feed the nation,” Dr. Mensah said.
As part of its support toward government’s economic transformation agenda, Dr. Mensah said adb has committed GH¢200million to support the One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative, which seeks to industrialise the economy.
He also announced a number of new products and initiatives undertaken by the bank, which are expected to support the sector while helping to realise the needed transformation.