The small-scale aquaculture sector in Ghana comprise about 2,200 farmers, each producing less than 50mt of fish per annum. Production for 2018 from small-scale farmers was 11,069mt against a total aquaculture production of 76,620mt. The sector is private sector-led and has the potential to contribute significantly to fish food and nutritional security, employment generation, increased incomes, economic growth and poverty reduction.
As the nation, through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) puts in policies and strategies to avert the declining stocks in the capture fisheries, the theme for this year’s National Farmers’ Day celebration, ‘enhancing small-scale agriculture towards agribusiness develpment’ could not have come at a better time than now. It is a clarion call to increase the nation’s annual fish output by revitalizing the small-scale farming in order to establish a strong base for a sustained and accelerated growth of the aquaculture subsector.
The Ghana National Aquaculture Development Plan (GNADP - 2012) was designed to enable Ghana take advantage of its biophysical and socio-economic environment, strong research capacity, and rising fish prices locally and globally, to significantly bridge the huge gap between national fish demand and supply in the medium term.
The GNADP is also envisaged to facilitate the promotion of aquaculture as a business under the principle that:
- The best investments come from matching the appropriate aquaculture system and the prerequisite bio-physical and socio-economic requirements (i.e., high priority zones); and
- Support mechanisms or services for these aquaculture businesses should be private sector-led, thereby requiring a shift in Government's roles and responsibilities to more of facilitation, monitoring and control.
Thus, interventions to enhance small-scale aquaculture towards agribusiness development would require:
- understanding small-scale aquaculture, its contribution/potential contribution as well as challenges/issues facing the sector and the small-scale producers;
- identifying entry points for enhancing its contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development;
- identifying concrete action plans to strengthen the capacity of small-scale producers and households to deal with threats, risks, shocks, crises and emergencies; and
- identifying elements of a planned Technical Guidelines for enhancing the contribution of small-scale aquaculture to food security
Enhancing small-scale aquaculture towards agribusiness development certainly requires complementary roles of the public and private sectors. Some of the interventions include:
- Capacity enhancement
The goal would be to develop programmes for capacity enhancement of stakeholders. In this regard, the main role of the public sector is to develop curriculum and plan for stakeholder trainings, establish a dialogue platform for stakeholder continuous engagement, strengthen and mainstream technical and vocational skills for fish farmers.
The role of the private sector is to promote public-private partnerships (PPPs) to ensure trainings and adoption of improved technologies in the subsector, actively and constructively participate in dialogues to improve farmer development.
- Strengthening institutions
Constraints to enhancing small-scale aquaculture towards agribusiness development and related value chains include weak institutional capacities and linkages for an effective management and support of all stakeholders.
The goal is to provide adequate resources (facilities, infrastructure, processes, human capital and budgetary allocation) to strengthen institutions (e.g. centres of excellence, training centres, hubs) and their linkages.
The role of the public sector would be to make adequate provision and timely release of budgetary allocation, promote and enforce transparency and accountability in institutions, while that of the private sector would be to support investments to strengthen institutions.
- Formulate directives for aquaculture development
The goal is to formulate national directives (e.g. land tenure) for the development of aquaculture and related value chains.
The role of the public sector is to ensure that national directives are mainstreamed at local level, while the private sector is to contribute to the process of drafting of the national directives.
- Data collection and management
The goal is to ensure comprehensive age- and gender- disaggregated data collection and its management in aquaculture.
Roles of the public sector is to ensure timely dissemination of information, whereas the private sector is actively participate and volunteer timely, comprehensive and reliable information.
- Availability and accessibility of factors of production
Inefficiency in production leads to uncompetitive products, low yields and high costs. Inefficiency of production often results from, for example, poor choice of farming sites, use of poor quality inputs or good quality inputs in insufficient quantities and lack of access to suitable market channels. The goal is, therefore, to promote access to quality inputs, capital, land and water.
The role of the public sector is to facilitate access to quality inputs, (including tax exemption of key aquaculture inputs), capital, land and water as well as quality control and assurance protocols. Role of the private sector is to comply with quality control and assurance protocols, invest in production of quality inputs, collaborate and permit access to land.
- Strengthen access to market
The goal is to create an enabling environment of access to market. Role of the public sector is to establish markets at designated areas to address challenges and that of the private sector is to establish market networks, diversify and add value to aquaculture products.
- Strengthen cooperation for technology transfer
Challenges in the development of aquaculture often results from use of non-performant farming technologies and the management of aquaculture as a subsistence activity. The goal is to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation for technology transfer to the aquaculture value chain.
The role of the public sector is to facilitate access to innovative technologies and markets while the private sector is to use of PPPs for the development, adaptation and dissemination of innovative technologies.
- Develop aquaculture research
The goal is to improve research across the aquaculture value chain.
The role of the public sector is to support demand-driven research initiatives, fund research in the field of aquaculture value chain and disseminate the results of research and innovation. Also, the role of the private sector is to sponsor and fund demand-driven research and adopt research and innovation results.
- Promote an enabling business environment
The goal is to set up business incubation centres and one-stop shops for aquaculture.
The role of the public sector is to mobilize funding, provide capacity on doing aquaculture as a business and assist in the construction and equipment of business incubation centres while that of the private sector is to mobilize funding, train promoters in business incubation centres and facilitate market access for developers.
- Strengthening extension service
The goal is to develop and/or strengthen extension service.
The role of the public sector is to provide adequate funding for the delivery of effective and efficient extension service, regulate extension service delivery, strengthen extension research linkages, support vocational training for government and private extension providers. The role of the private sector is to support farmer-to-farmer extension service, initiate private extension service provision.
- Fish health management
Fish health management describes management practices designed to prevent fish disease. Disease outbreaks are significant constraints to aquaculture production and economic viability. Successful fish health management begins with prevention of disease rather than treatment.
The role of the public sector is to develop, implement and regulate national strategic plan for aquatic animal health management and that of the private sector is to employ sound health management strategies, which aim to prevent the incidence or reduce severity of diseases and to maintain the biosecurity of their facilities.
- Post-harvest fish management
Post-harvest fish losses (refers to fish that is either discarded or sold at a relatively low price because of quality deterioration or owing to market dynamics) are a major concern and occur in most fish distribution chains. Not only do losses constitute lost income to fish farmers, processors and traders, but also contribute to food and nutritional insecurity - loss of fish means less fish available for the consumer or that consumers are supplied with low-quality fish and fish products. The goal is to eradicate or minimize post-harvest losses, resulting in safe fish and fish products, increased economic activity and employment.
The role of the public sector is to develop sound guidelines and practices and appropriate infrastructure, whilst the private sector is to adopt efficient post-harvest handling practices.
Small-scale aquaculture remains a crucial segment of the aquaculture industry in Ghana. With increasing population, there will definitely be more demand for fish and fish products in the future. The need to enhance small-scale aquaculture towards agribusiness development is inevitable.
By Mathew Oyih (Fisheries Commission)