The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has said it will launch its flagship ‘Aquaculture for Food and Jobs’ programme by end of May, in a bid to boost local fish production to meet increasing demand.
The programme, which is in response to growing concerns over Ghana’s depleting fish stock, will ensure there is adequate supply of fish all year, while creating employment in coastal communities.
Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Francis Ato Cudjoe, said the programme was borne out of the mandate given his ministry, which is new, by President Akufo-Addo.
“Before President Nana Addo created the ministry, it used to be known as the Fisheries Ministry. Now, it is the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture development. So, we, as managers of the place, have been charged with the additional responsibility of ensuring that we are developing aquaculture.
That is why we have developed the Aquaculture for Food and Jobs policy which currently is under discussion and we hope by mid-April it will go to cabinet. Once it has the cabinet approval, we are going to roll it out and do the implementation. We expect to do the launch, hopefully, by the end of May,” he said.
He added that there were several modules under the programme to ensure the approach is comprehensive and capable of improving the country’s fish stock.
One House, One Tank
“We are also going to bring something that we call ‘One house, One tank’. We are going to encourage people to go into tank farming which you can do anywhere. Once you have the tank you put fish in it and produce for your own consumption. You can even produce to sell.
“Then we are introducing the ‘Youth in Aquaculture’, programme where we bring a lot of young people and train them to engage in fish farming. So, it’s a very good programme and a very encouraging time ahead of us, in terms of aquaculture,” he explained.
The deputy minister said in preparation for the rollout of the programme, his ministry had already zoned the Volta Lake to determine areas most appropriate for aquaculture. He revealed that because already existing practitioners complain about cost of feed and other materials, the ministry intends to subsidise feed and other fishing inputs to encourage high patronage.
Francis Ato Cudjoe was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a 3-day media outreach programme organised in Takoradi under the Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SFMP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Chief of Party for the USAID/SFMP, Maurice Knight, said, “This is an opportunity for our partners to come together with you the media to learn about some of the important things that are happening in Ghana within the fisheries sector.
“It is to engage your directly, the media, that sits in the middle of the public, government, and experts, in a very important central position.”
He therefore tasked the media to pay attention to the issues in the sector as they embarked on a field trip to project sites.
Mr. Francis Ato Cudjoe said his ministry was looking at rolling out the Aquaculture for Food and Jobs programme on a large scale and was therefore looking at working more with institutions such as the prisons, military, navy and police as well as schools.
“We are encouraging people that have a lot of money because we need to do this thing on a large scale to get the impact that we want. Lots of people are interested, so we will engage them. Banks should also take up some of these things,” he appealed.
There have been growing concerns over Ghana’s depleting fish stock which is having rippling effects on food sustainability and job creation/unemployment especially in the coastal areas.
The fisheries sector employs about 10% of the entire population, accounting for 2million jobs along the entire value chain. Secondly, fish consumption contributes over 60% to total protein intake in Ghana and this is much higher in coastal communities.
The country also presently imports over 60% of the 930, 000 metric tonnes of fish it consumes annually, amount to $135m worth of imports in 2016 alone.
Kennedy Aryeetey Tetteh | thebftonline.com | Ghana