Aquaculture needs policy - FAO
Accra, Aug. 17, GNA - Alhaji M. Jallow, Senior Fisheries Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Office, Ghana on Thursday urged the Government to put in place pragmatic policies that had potentials to attract both local and foreign investment in the aquaculture sector.
Speaking at a day's national forum on "Aquaculture as a Business Venture" he said: "Like any business ventures, aquaculture will attract investors, local and foreign, if policies, which encourage a further development of private investment in the sector are in place." He said until very recently, Government policies in most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had paid little attention to promoting aquaculture as a potentially important economic activity.
"The traditional approach was to promote aquaculture more as a food- supplying activity for local subsistence, rather than as an investment - induced industry capable of growing beyond subsistence levels and generating important economic returns."
Alhaji Jallow said aquaculture had become the fastest growing food activity in the world, contributing substantially to food security, employment generation and foreign exchange earning in many regions. He expressed regret that Sub-Saharan Africa had only made marginal contribution towards this world trend and attributed the sluggish development to a lack of economic incentive, which resulted from unsound policies.
The day's forum was designed to bring together fish farmers and entrepreneurs to discuss challenges, which faced the aquaculture industry and to collate views and ideas aimed at charting a new course in the aquaculture industry.
Alhaji Jallow mentioned some of the opportunities that could be used for aquaculture systems in Ghana to include inland freshwater to blackish coastal and marine water and that could provide sizable revenue to farmers if taken seriously.
He called on the farmers to diversify from tilapia and catfish to shrimp farming, which he said had a large market internationally.
Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Fisheries, said the Government was formulating flexible national aquaculture strategies and redefining its roles and that of the private sector in aquaculture development. She said the Government would divest itself of public infrastructure such as hatcheries and fish farms when necessary.
Mrs Asmah said past attempts by the Government to promote aquaculture failed due to a number of constraints including inadequate supply of fish seed, quality of fish, markets and unclear institutional policies and allocation of responsibilities.
Mr Alfred Tetebo, Director of Fisheries, in a welcoming address said fish production in both marine and inland water was dwindling and could not meet the nation's demand.
"Fish importation is gradually increasing in tonnage and in 2004 alone about 200 tonnes worth about 150 million dollars was imported," he said, adding that there was the need for the nation to seriously invest in aquaculture.
He noted that Ghana was endowed with the natural resource suitable for the growing of fish especially tilapia.