The Ghana National Association of Fish Pond Farmers is calling on the government to intervene with fish feed to enable them to meet increasing demand of Tilapia fish of the local market.
According to the association, the current high demand for tilapia poses a challenge due to a ban placed by the government.
The government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development from July 1, has placed a ban on the importation of all ornamental fishes and tilapia species as measures to tackle the emerging Tilapia lake virus for six months.
According to the Ministry, the ban has been necessitated by rife cases of the virus that is associated with significant mortalities in farmed tilapia across Africa, Asia and South America.
“The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development is with this release placing a BAN on the import of all ornamental fishes and tilapia species (live and dead) including gametes-eggs and milk into the country effect from July 1, to December 31, 2018,” a statement released by the Ministry said.
Speaking to JoyBusiness the National Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Fish Pond Farmers, Nana Yaw Bosomtwe-Frimpong said government’s intervention in the area of feed is needed to address the challenge of high demand.
“We have a lot of people who are doing tilapia farming using the fish pond, this is happening in the Ashanti, Northern, Volta, Eastern, Brong Ahafo and Western regions. What we are looking for from the government is that they come and assist us with feed for the fish," he said.
Mr Bosomtwe-Frimpong said,"We admit the gap that has been created due to the ban that has been placed on tilapia. But the only way we can meet the demand on the market currently is if the government can supply us with feed. It is interesting for you to know that feed constitute about 60% to 70% of the cost of production because we don’t produce most of the feed from here."
On the other hand, the Ministry has given assurance that it will follow up with capacity building and awareness creation programmes at different levels to farmers, hatchery operators, extension officers, and consumers and the general public to support the implementation of simple farm-level biosecurity programmes.
He further stated that “we can produce the feed right here if we have the machines. If the government can assist as build a fish meal because we have all the ingredients here in Ghana and I can assure you that we will be able to produce meet demand if we have it in this country.”
The virus is responsible for the decimation of some populations of tilapia and was discovered only recently.
Though not a human health risk, Tilapia Lake Virus has a large potential to impact global food security and nutrition.