Action plan to strengthen aquaculture sector in the offing
An initiative to develop a roadmap to strengthen and ensure sustainable growth of the country’s aquaculture sector has started.
Known as the Blue Food Partnership Ghana initiative, it is aimed at catalysing science-based actions towards healthy and sustainable blue food value chains.
The private sector led initiative is also to enable Ghana to meet the increasing demand for healthy and nutritious food in more sustainable ways.
Ghana is currently the only country in West Africa to join the global initiative which is supported by the United Kingdom’s Blue Planet Fund, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, Friends of Ocean Action, Futurefish and championed in Ghana by the Chamber of Aquaculture Ghana.
Blue Foods are foods that are captured by fisheries or cultivated by aquaculture from the ocean, rivers, lakes, ponds and tanks, and can derive from aquatic animals, plants or algae.
As part of the process to develop an action plan for the country’s blue food partnership Ghana initiative, a networking meeting was held yesterday in Accra.
It brought together stakeholders across the aquaculture value chain, including aquaculture farmers, processors, hatcheries operators, scientists, government representatives and operators of restaurants.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Moses Anim, said there was a huge demand for aquaculture products in Ghana.
He said the per capita consumption was between 20 kilograms (kg) and 26kg with 60 per cent of protein source coming from aquatic animals.
Mr Anim said Ghana had a good climate for aquaculture with huge irrigated areas, dams and dug-outs.
The demand for aquaculture produce, he said, was less than the supply while the challenge of the depletion of marine resources, which used to provide about 80 per cent of protein sources, had even made it worse as it now stood at 55 per cent.
"In 1996, Ghana was landing about 250,000 tonnes of pelagics but as of the end of 2014, it had reduced to about 44,000 tonnes," the deputy minister said.
Following the dwindling marine sources, Mr Anim said aquaculture had, therefore, become the most viable alternative to supply aquatic animal food.
State of aquaculture
Aquaculture in Ghana, he said "is not doing badly producing about 132,000 tonnes of fish, representing 20 per cent of total aquatic animal production."
Mr Anim indicated that the government's decision to update the 2008 Fisheries and Aquaculture National Policy was in the right direction as it had helped to set out aquaculture as a stand-alone focus area.
The deputy minister stressed the need to encourage diversification of aquaculture species as the current focus was on two species, namely tilapia and catfish.
The Chairman of the Chamber of Aquaculture Ghana, Dr Henry Anim Somuah, commended the UK Government and other partners for choosing the chamber to lead such an important initiative in Ghana.
He said promoting sustainable practices would support the transformation of Ghana’s aquaculture industry which was currently the fastest growing in sub-Saharan Africa.
A project lead of Futurefish, the technical partners of the Blue Food Partnership Ghana Initiative, Dr Olek Kaminski, said the initiative would ensure the adoption of more responsible practices and a resilient aquaculture industry.
He said a number of stakeholders engagement had been held, while a survey had also been carried out to find out the priority areas for the sector.
Also, there would be the need for awareness creation of the benefits in patronising farmed fish in order to grow the sector, Dr Kaminski said.