THE CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Chamber of Mines, Miss Joyce Aryee has charged financial institutions in the country to play a more active role in the development of the nation's economy.
She complained that the instance in which banks in the country are continuously steeped in trading with the money under their care instead of investing in lucrative business ventures should be re-considered.
Miss Aryee hit the nail on the head when she chaired the Aquaculture investors' forum which was organised by the Ministry of Fisheries in collaboration with its development partners in Accra on Tuesday.
The forum, which was attended by members of the Association of Ghana Industries, banking and financing institutions, fish farmers, animal feed producers, importers, exporters and policy makers, was to deliberate on Government's aim of promoting aquaculture as a business venture to investors, both within and outside the country.
She did not mince words when she pointed out some bank officials always demanded a percentage on a loan an investor was contracting before granting approval- an attitude, which she said, was unscrupulous and primitive.
According to her, there was no way Ghana should be sitting on so much wealth while her citizens wallow in abject poverty, hence concerted efforts must be made by all stakeholders to glean the potentials of aquaculture.
“It is a shame to sit on so much wealth and have all these poverty around,” she emphasised.
She urged Government to show more passion for the industry by spending a little more money on research while entreating the fish farmers to set aside one per cent of their income for the same purpose to realise the full potential of the industry.
The Minister for Fisheries, Hon Gladys Asmah observed that aquaculture could be a viable economic and rewarding venture capable of creating wealth and jobs in the country as a whole, since favourable factors such as clean water and good soil were in abundance in the country.
She therefore urged the banks to set up aquaculture support fund to facilitate the development of the venture.
Gladys Asmah disclosed that her ministry had so far trained over 300 people throughout the country including 29 galamsey operators from Tarkwa in practical fish-farming processes at the cost of ¢700 million.
“Others including inmates of the Nsawam Prisons have also been trained by the ministry's technical staff in pond construction to empower them financially.”
The minister indicated her ministry's target for aquaculture production in the next five years was to produce up to 50 per cent of local consumption, which currently stood at 400,000 metric tonnes.
She however averred that efforts must be stepped up to inject financial and technical support into the enterprise if the target was to be achieved.
She mentioned some of the technical factors as quality fingerlings, quality feed and appropriate human resource including farmers' knowledge and availability of extension services especially pond construction technology and skills.
The Director of Fisheries, Mr. Alfred Tetebo, in his contribution, stated that Ghana was one of the largest consumers of fish in sub-Saharan Africa, hence the quest to boost the industry to satisfy local consumption and produce for export.
He mentioned the Nile Tilapia as the main species in focus.
MR John Mow from the Ghana office of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, observed that the new paradigm shift required change of attitude if the venture was to succeed.
He said the industry must be driven by public/private partnership, with civil society promoting social sustainability of the scheme.
He said investors should be given the enabling environment and inputs like access to capitals while guaranteeing their markets.
Mr Bow stressed that FAO would continue to offer the necessary assistance to make the programme a success.
Some of the fish farmers later shared their experiences with their colleagues, all emphasising the benefits of the venture.