Chairman of the Fisheries Commission Board, Professor Francis Nunoo, has lamented that the cost of feed – which is more than 70 percent of total production costs – and the prevalence of diseases continue to weigh heavily on the domestic aquaculture industry.
He expressed worry that if left unchecked this cocktail of factors could significantly erode gains which have been made in the industry over the last decade. “One of the major challenges facing the industry is rising cost of fish feed, which accounts for 80 percent of the production costs.”
He made this known in his address at the 2023 Aquaculture Ghana Conference themed ‘Fostering stakeholder collaboration for sustainable aquaculture industry’.
He highlighted challenges facing the aquaculture industry in Ghana and called for greater collaboration to address them.
Recent estimates by the Chamber of Aquaculture – organiser of the event – suggest that this year alone the cost of fish feed has risen by approximately 200 percent.
The rising cost of feed is attributed to astronomical rises in the price of ingredients such as maize and soya beans.
Consequently, sector players have resorted to imported substitutes, which are of lower quality, to produce feed for their fish.
Additionally, this has resulted in high import bills – with Ghana importing US$209million worth of seafood in 2021. This includes US$128million of processed fish alone in 2021, making the nation the 34th-largest importer of processed fish in the world.
The high demand for fish and inability of local fish-farmers to meet demand is putting a significant strain on the cedi – which depreciated by 42.8 percent, 26.9 percent and 33.9 percent against the US dollar, pound sterling and Euro respectively in 2022.
“We need to find sustainable ways of producing fish feed locally to reduce our reliance on imports and strengthen our local currency,” Professor Nunoo emphasised.
In addition, the rising cost of feed is threatening to sweep feed producers and aquaculture farmers alike out of business, a development that remains an immense concern to the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) which was represented by its Chief Executive, Seth Akwaboah.
Mr. Akwaboah said a recent tour of some industries laid bare the full extent of the challenges businesses are facing.
“Indeed, we have many challenges in the system. Several foreign and domestic macroeconomic challenges have severely hit the Ghanaian economy in recent times. Soaring inflation, tighter monetary policy and an unstable local currency continue to breed uncertainty in the system. These, coupled with high utility tariffs and lack of access to long-term finance, have not helped industries. I have been visiting a lot of industries and the story I hear is not encouraging. Recently, a media person asked me how many jobs have been lost, and I said “we shouldn’t just be interested in those that have been lost; but the fact that the businesses are not growing should be a matter of concern for us all,” he elaborated.
“The exigencies of our time mean cross-stakeholder interactions have become more important,” he added.
Another challenge facing the industry, Prof. Nunoo added, is the prevalence of fish disease. He however indicated that efforts are being made to address this. “Thankfully, we have begun building capacities in the veterinary sector through the Fish for Development programme to ensure that these constraints are overcome.”
Looking ahead, he said investments are being made in technology to enable Ghana venture into the mariculture sector, especially with shrimp production.
“Attempts to go into shrimp-farming have not been too successful, but we have not given up as we know shrimps are highly valued,” he said.
This comes as the size of the global shrimp market in 2020 was estimated to be US$28.45billion.
According to projections, the market is expected to expand from US$33.81billion in 2021 to US$53.63billion in 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.81 percent during the 2021 to 2028 period.