Replicating the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) Programme of the Agriculture Ministry, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministry has piloted its own Aquaculture for Food and Jobs Programme at the James Camp Prisons Fish Farm in Accra.
The prison camp houses some of Ghana’s citizens found to have been in breach of the law. It serves as one of the oldest prison establishments in the country, having been set up in 1948.
Working under its rehabilitation mandate, inmates have received training in landscaping, horticulture, fabric design, laundry services, tailoring, bead making, shoe making, canopy making, ceramics and carpentry to be able to be productive, and thus earn a decent living to resist the temptation of returning to crime.
It is for this reason that the pilot project choosing the camp is most opportune even as government seeks to shore up the country’s depleted fish stock.
Sector minister, Elizabeth Naa Afoley Quaye, revealed that aside the prison camps, Senior High Schools are also being supported to rear fish for consumption and sale. She stated about GHc10 million is being injected in the programme.
Programme observers are looking at generating value of GHc135 million from some 150 metric tonnes of fish.
Fish pond farmers say fish feed prices constitute over 70 percent of the production cost in fish farming, and urge government to help set up mini-mills to produce fish feed in selected production zones.
Mass deaths of pond tilapia on the Volta Lake have raised concern of outbreak of diseases which can derail the scheme but Hon. Quaye has ruled out the possibility of the Tilapia Lake Virus (TLV) in the death of tilapia recently; rather, she said the deaths were due to bacterial infection, coupled with environmental factors.
Ghana consumes over 950,000 metric tons of fish annually but imports over 60 percent of its fish, and in 2016, imported US$135 million worth of fish because of the reduction in the country’s fish stock.
The programme for the fishers is to arrest the country’s depleted fish stock, ensuring adequate fish supply all year round in addition to creating employment in coastal communities.
To give the prison camp a head start, they were offered 3000 fingerlings introduced to the fish pond while 235 sacks of fish feed were also donated with the support of RANAAN Fish Feed West Africa.
By Michael Eli Dokosi/goldstreetbusiness.com