Youth in aquaculture in the Upper East region are calling on government to subsidize fish feed and build more hatcheries to meet the protein demand of the area and create sustainable jobs for the teaming unemployed youth.
According to them, fish farming has a great potential to reduce graduate unemployment lamenting that the high cost of feed has become a hindrance for many youth venturing into the business.
Annually, Ghana imports over $300 million worth of fish to meet the demand of 60 percent of Ghanaian households’ daily fish consumption.
Speaking to Citi News, some youth in aquaculture in Bolgatanga and Navorngo wants government to make fish farming attractive by supporting actors within the supply chain with the necessary support to reduce fish importation.
Gilbert Webadua, a fish farmer stated that, “This is my first time trying fish farming. I have about 6,000 catfish but in fact, it’s not easy. The fish feed is very costly, that’s my main challenge. If government can help us by reducing the cost of the feed and polytanks for sorting out the fish, most of the youth will be willing to venture into it”.
Another farmer called Maxwell Agubere stated, “Our major problem is the fish feed, it’s very expensive these days. We used to buy a bag at GH¢95.00 or GH¢105.00, but today a bag of fish feed is going for GH¢260.00 which is too much. With the maturing fish, you can use a bag of feed to feed them for only 3 days which is not sustainable. So we want government to come to our aid by reducing the cost of the feed, this will attract more youth into the business”.
Dominic Waala, another farmer also said, “Fish farming is lucrative, if you look at the cost analysis and the prices we sell, it’s a good business to venture into. Our main challenge is the fish feed, it’s very expensive and even the prices of ingredients such as soya beans, fish meal among others are expensive in the market. Producing fish feed has become expensive. So, if government could support by subsidizing fish feed, we could do more”.
Upper East Regional Director of the Fisheries Commission, Francis Adjei, assured that government is studying a proposal for fish feed subsidy, adding that, a hatchery built in the Bongo district will soon commence for the production and supply of fingerlings to fish farmers in the five regions of Northern Ghana.
“In the area of fish feed, what we are doing now is to collaborate with Raanan fish feed to open an outlet here in Bolga, so that it can reduce the cost of the fish feed. I’m also planning a training on local fish feed formulation for fish farmers to reduce the cost of feed. Fish feed subsidy has already been laid to the commission in Accra to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development to see to it that they help fish farmers in the country,” he noted.
“The government through the fisheries commission has set up a hatchery at Gowrie in the Bongo district to produce tilapia and catfish fingerlings to supply to fish farmers in the five regions of the North but also to do restocking of dams and dugouts in the Upper East Region. It will also serve as a training centre for schools and colleges who are doing agriculture and in the next two months the hatchery will start operations,” he said.
However, actors within the fish farming value chain bemoaned the lack of life jackets and fishing nets as well as the high cost of fish from fish farmers as a threat to their business and thus called for government intervention.
“Our fishermen want life jackets, and we are unable to get the fishing nets, the ones in the market are expensive. Nowadays, we don’t get enough fish because the cost of fish we get in pounds is too costly than those from the Tono dam or riverside. Sometimes, we are not able to supply our customers the quantity of fish they want, and we understand it’s due to the high cost of fish feed, so we are appealing to government to reduce the fish feed for the fish farmers,” Elizabeth Bukari stated.