Takoradi, W/R, 27 June 2017. The Western Region Coastal Foundation (WRCF) today held an Aquaculture Stakeholders Learning Forum to share achievements and lessons from its aquaculture demonstration ponds in Ellembelle and Jomoro districts. The forum enabled all stakeholders to discuss and assess livelihood diversification options and assess and take advantage of on the opportunities and way forward for for promoting corporate social investment in the fisheries sector of Ghana’s Western Region and beyond.. Participants included local and regional government officials, CSOs, financial institutions, Chamber of Commerce and oil and gas companies.
In a region where production of cultured fish is low, access to quality fingerlings and feed is difficult, technical know-how limited, and markets are distant and scattered. The WRCF aquaculture initiative sought to make the coastal districts aquaculture industry a much more attractive investment choice for interests entrepreneurs resident in the oil and gas impacted communities and a thus stimulate a more robust market for aquaculture inputs/outputs despite the current challenges.
Sharing experiences and lessons learnt with participants, beneficiary fish farmers mentioned that prior to the pilot intervention in 2016, they had no very little or knowledge of fish farming, and they run into a lot of debt with their ponds.
“Once, I bought 1,500 fingerlings and only 50 survived. This is because I wasn’t sure what kind of feed to give. There were times I would throw a bowl of pounded fufu into the pond and when I saw the fishes fighting to eat the fufu, I thought I had done well” said Mr. Eshun, Chairman of Al-hamdullah Fish Farmers Association in Kamgbunli, Ellembelle District. He further stated that the WRCF aquaculture pilot instilled in association members good business management practices including record keeping, how to identify and purchase quality fingerlings, and good marketing strategies to sell their fish. “The future looks good and I see fish farming as a business and not a hobby” said Mr. Eshun.
“Because of WRCF, very soon I will become rich,” said Isaac Amihere, a member of the KAHA Fish Farmers Association.
Other fish farmer associations mentioned a significant improvement in their knowledge and practices. “Before, we would wait for fish to become six or seven months old before we sell, but ever since WRCF and its partners started to coach us, we have learnt that fish can be harvested at four months after raising them” said Mr. Samuel Ackah, Lead Farmer for ANCOFFA.
Whilst WRCF is happy with the results of the pilot, it places emphasis on the importance collective action towards sustainable local economic development.
“We are delighted with the results of the aquaculture pilot ponds; associations have seen an increase in membership, fish farmers have improved skills; the catfish value chain has been strengthened; and now farmers are moving from a subsistence mindset towards a commercial or enterprise mindset.”
“The pilot has demonstrated that it is a viable livelihood option, and so I invite all stakeholders including financial institutions to collectively help take this pilot to scale so that more jobs can be created, incomes improved, and consequently, sustainable local economic development achieved” said Matthew Armah, Team Leader and CEO of WRCF.
WRCF partnered with the Western Region Fisheries Commission, CSIR-Water Research Institute, Carmeuse, Ranaan Fish Feed, and Kpemli Ventures to build the knowledge and capacity of 158 fish farmers from across the six coastal districts. The partners worked with four fish farmers associations from Kamgbunli, Awiebo, Half Assini and New Ankasa to pilot the demonstration ponds. Currently, associations have catfish demands from Accra, Kumasi, and Nsawam, with over 70% of demand coming from within the six coastal districts. Pond construction and liming, business management including record keeping, proper administering of fish feed, marketing are some of the areas that fish farmers were taken through.
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