Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, says although Ghana’s climate is ideal for tilapia farming, the lack of readily available fingerlings and affordable fish feed is preventing the attainment of the aquaculture potential.
“The water quantity and quality is outstanding, the labour force is abundant. But these two things that are lacking today do not make such an aquaculture potential a reality in the country,” she said.
She said aquaculture is an important component for Ghanaian fisheries as it contributes to national food security, income and employment generation as well as foreign exchange earnings.
“Aquaculture has contributed to reducing the pressure on marine natural resources,” Ms Ayittey said during a visit to some aquaculture farms in the Ashanti Region.
Ms Ayittey acknowledged that there is intense pressure on the sector because the global supply of wild-caught fish is unlikely to rise again unless over exploited stocks are rehabilitated.
The Minister said with the supply of wild-caught fish stagnant, aquaculture has emerged to meet demand, adding that any future increase in the country’s fish consumption would need to be supplied by aquaculture.
Admitting that her Ministry is saddled with a momentous responsibility to ensure the development of the sector, Ms Ayittey announced that government would play an active role in the importation of fish feed to be sold to the farmers at subsidised prices.
She advised the farmers to strengthen their association and make it more attractive and amenable to new trends and technologies to enhance their work.
“Young people in Ghana have negative ideas about aquaculture, they think they will be poor if they work in the sector and they feel they have no reason to do so. We need to create an enabling environment by supporting the farmers to make the sector attractive to the youth,” she said.
She said for aquaculture to double in production there is the need for sustainable growth and government has put in structures to improve its productivity while improving its environmental performance.
The farmers complained that fish feed availability and affordability has been a major challenge.