About fifty farmers in the Ashanti region have been trained in fish farming as a means to alternative livelihood in the face of unfavourable weather conditions affecting their production.
This is part of an integrated farming program under the project dubbed Aquaponics-based food system by the Crops Research Institute.
It combines fish rearing with crop production and other animal rearing with the aim of ensuring all-year-round food production to the smallholder farmer.
The Aquaponics system involves the channeling of fish waste from ponds as a source of water supply for crop growth and development.
This year for instance, dry weather conditions extended to March, which experts have predicted will affect food production.
The AFS integration is such that the output of one system is the input of the other. In such a closed loop system, there is no waste.
With this, every waste is ploughed back into the system, and that makes the AFS highly environmentally friendly.
Farmers have often lost their production to the unpredicted nature of the weather, which sometimes compel them to quit.
Shadrack Kwadwo Amponsah, Project coordinator, believes this integrated approach to agriculture is the sure way to achieving sustainable food security in Ghana.
“If a farmer is able to take a multidimensional approach it becomes easy for the farmer to rise from the shock should there be any lapses in the weather conditions”.
The fish pond technology is constructed with renewable materials on a raised surface unlike the existing dug systems.
Construction materials for the columns (vertical stands) range from Borassus, locally referred to as “mmaa kube” to mahogany or any locally available tough wood
Bamboo or neem tree branches can be used for the beams and fastened with nails, steel binding wire or locally available ropes.
Clay mud can be used to reinforce the pond frame where available. Cushioning of the frame is done using empty paper cartons. This is to prevent any sharp object from piercing the polyethylene or tarpaulin sheet that would be used for lining the pond and also absorb any shock exerted by water in the pond.
The pond of the dimension of 4m length by 3m width and 0.7m depth could take a little over 150 fingerlings of tilapia (20 g) to be fattened to a size of at least 200g within a period of 3-4 months.
Kofi Asamoah, a fish farmer at Donaso in the Ejisu-Juabeng municipality explains they can save their money employing this system.
“With the old way, that is earthen ponds, it is very costly, to prepare the land, hire excavator, to construct the ponds but with this simple and locally manufactured materials here, the cost will be very low. So we find it very accommodative and good. At least it will reduce our cost”.Mr. Asamoah has said.
The project is sponsored by Brazilian Agricultural Research Cooperation being implemented by the CSIR-Crops Research Institute in collaboration with Embrapa Mid-North, CSIR-Animal Research Institute and Water Research Institute.