Government is revitalising the aquaculture industry to increase domestic production, reduce fish imports and create additional job opportunities.
To this end, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), under its Aquaculture for Food and Jobs (AFJ) programme, has expanded the country’s fish ponds from 3,915 in 2015 to 4,925 in 2019.
MoFAD, has also increased the number of fish cages in Ghana from 7,607 within the same period, and improved the production capacity of aquaculture’s contribution to the country’s fish needs, from 46,610 metric tonnes to 52,350 metric tonnes, all within the said time frame.
Mr David Aidoo, the Coordinator of the Aquaculture for Food and Jobs Programme, under MoFAD, gave the statistics at a media workshop in Accra.
The workshop was to empower journalists with the requisite knowledge on the aquaculture sub sector, and the other key programmes being implemented by the Ministry and its Agencies, to ensure adequate and accurate reportage on them.
He said currently, there were 1,852 small-scale operators of ponds, 14 medium-scale pond operators and 11 large scale pond operators in the country.
Mr Aidoo said the underpinning policy drive towards achieving the structural change in the Fisheries sector, was the implementation of the Ministry’s Aquaculture Development Programme.
The Programme, he said aimed at using policy interventions and active private sector participation as a tool to promote fresh water fish farming and Mari culture, thereby creating additional job opportunities, promoting aquaculture as an alternative source of domestic fish production through deliberate policy interventions.
It was also tailored to deliver cost effective, affordable and quality extension services, he said.
According to Mr Aidoo, Ghana was making great headway towards implementing the expected structural transformation for effective aquaculture development, and that the subsector was projected to increase in its percentage contribution of 13 per cent in 2017, to 20 per cent by 2024.
He stated that the structural transformation being sought for, was being driven by private sector investment in the industry and the deliberate provision of adequate economic incentives by government.
Mrs Elizabeth Afoley Quaye, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said with the challenges being faced in the marine sub-sector, aquaculture presented an important alternative to augment fish production, reduce fish imports and provide additional job opportunities for unemployed youth particularly in rural communities.
She spoke about some of the achievements under the AFJ, saying a number of unemployed youth had been mobilized into Aquaculture Enterprise Groups under the AFJ, and supported with the necessary aquaculture inputs such as fingerlings, fish feed, ponds, tanks, and cages, to engage in fish farming.
Mrs Afoley Quaye said again, economically viable and distressed aquaculture establishments, second cycle institutions and other public institutions were being supported, saying, the implementation of AFJ was estimated to create additional 3,000 direct and indirect jobs, and would produce 33,628 metric tonnes of fish annually.
The sector contributes significantly to national development, including food and nutrition, foreign exchange earnings and job creation, she added.
Mrs Quaye said in Ghana the production structure of the fisheries sector comprised of the capture being from marine and inland sources which accounted for 80 per cent of fish consumption, and aquaculture which also accounted for between 12 to 17 per cent.
The Ministry, she said, piloted AFJ at some selected institutions including the James Camp Prisons in Accra, Pentecost Youth Association at Adansi, Wenchi Youth Association, Osei Tutu Senior High School in Ashanti Region and Dormaa Senior High School in the Bono Region in 2019.
The James Camp Prisons and the Pentecost Youth Association, under the pilot phase, had been assisted in pond construction and provided with 7,160 fingerlings of tilapia and catfish respectively, and 335 bags of fish feed, and trained a total of 321 youth.
The Ministry had also in 2017 conducted a total of 3,534 farm visits, trained Aquaculture Operators in quality fingerling production, fish feed formulation and effective and efficient farm management.
Mrs Quaye indicated that the extension service delivery provided to fish farmers, was expected to enhance their capacity to increase aquaculture production to close the 50, 000 metric tonnes gap of Ghana’s fish needs.