The government has been urged to take advantage of the existing water reservoirs in the Northern Region to develop aquaculture to meet the protein requirements of the people.
Stocking the over 2,000 hectares of reservoirs in the Region with hatchery-bred fingerlings for extensive or semi-intensive aquaculture could yield up to 12,000 metric tons of fish estimated at the cost of 40 billion cedis annually according to research findings.
Dr. M. Owusu-Frimpong, Director of the Water Research Institute in Tamale, made the appeal when he addressed the annual Conservation Week celebration of the Renewable Natural Resources Students Association (RENARSA) of the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Nyankpala on Thursday.
Because water reservoirs in the north had been under utilised, there were no fish in many of them and instead had become the breeding ground for water-borne diseases such as guinea worm, malaria, elephantiasis and bilharzias, he stated.
He said the time had come for the Region to adopt appropriate technologies to increase the productivity of existing water resources to improve the standard of living of the people.
"The integration of aquaculture and aquatic vector control can be a panacea to the prevailing poverty in the north, which is partly the result of low food production and disease", he added.
Dr. Owusu-Frimpong said, "The release and colonisation of fish species that feed on vectors of guinea worm, malaria, filariasis and bilharzias can bring about a reduction in vector population and disease transmission".
He called on the government, development partners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to collaborate with the Northern Empowerment Association (NEA), a local NGO based in Tamale for the promotion of aquaculture and fisheries development in the north to increase food security and alleviate poverty.
Wahab Wumbei, Tolon/Kumbungu District Chief Executive (DCE) said the diversification of agriculture was a positive way of poverty alleviation.
He said the development of aquaculture would go a long way to improve the health of the people by providing their protein needs and a source of income.
Kuunifaa Chrisentus, President of the Renewable Natural Resources Students Association (RENARSA), said although the country needed about 800,000 metric tons of fish annually to meet the protein requirements of the people it could produce only 400,000 metric tons.
He said fish farming in Ghana started at Lawra in the Upper West Region in 1953, adding that, global aquaculture yield at the beginning of the 21st century was 375 million metric tons worth 53 billion US dollars, representing only 29 per cent of world fishery production.
Mr. Chrisentus said since then the world's aquaculture production had been growing at an average rate of 9.2 per cent.
In 1994, Ghana's total fish production was 950 tons valued at 14.25 billion cedis.