President Akufo-Addo says that his government’s quest to guarantee food security in Ghana has received yet another boost with the official commissioning of the National Aquaculture Centre and Commercial Farms (NACCF) in the Greater Accra Region.
He was speaking as the Government of Ghana, acting through the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), inaugurated the innovative NACCF project.
The one-of-a-kind facility combines state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) technology, which offers water purification to the highest level possible.
The NACCF will grow tilapia, catfish and prawns, all of which are essential ingredients of the Ghanaian/West African diet.
Speaking at the inauguration of the National Aquaculture Centre and Commercial Farms on Thursday (8 June 2023) in Amrahia, in the Adenta Municipal Assembly, President Akufo-Addo said the coming into being of the project is yet another milestone in the government’s efforts to develop Ghana’s fisheries and aquaculture sector.
“It is estimated that some three million people are employed along the entire value chain of the fisheries and aquaculture industries,” the president said. “Some 60% of the nation’s annual protein is derived from the fishing sector.
“It contributes about 11% of agriculture’s GDP, and it employs about 20% of our nation’s workforce through direct and indirect means. Last year, our nation earned some US$254 million from the export of fish and fish products,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“Sadly, our marine stocks face significant threats in the form of pollution, biodiversity loss, ocean dumping, overfishing and other maritime threats, including overexploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, piracy and trafficking.
“These avoidable threats affect the livelihoods of millions of people. They affect food security prospects, they affect critical infrastructure, and they affect important ecosystems,” the president added.
To address the problem of dwindling catches from the sea and increasing demand for fish, President Akufo-Addo noted that his “government in 2019, in recognition of the aquaculture subsector, granted approval for the implementation of the greenhouse aquaculture technology system to help increase domestic fish production, to increase expertise in aquaculture and to create jobs for the youth”.
”To this end, the sod cutting for the realisation of the project took place in 2021. The aim of the centre is to produce fish products and create employment through the training of the local population as fish farmers with emphasis on graduates from our universities,” Akufo-Addo told guests at the commissioning ceremony.
“The centre complements the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture’s development programme, Aquaculture for Food and Jobs, and reaffirms the government’s determination to reduce graduate unemployment in the country,” he said.
According to the president, as “water bodies dry up and become polluted due to human activities and as the pressure on land acquisition increases, modernisation of aquaculture must involve the utilisation of less space and water but, at the same time, must increase productivity”.
“One such modern technology that has these attributes is the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), which is being employed by the centre and commissioning today.
“Not only does this system offer minimum maintenance costs, and relatively moderate to low consumption [of inputs], it also guarantees the production of healthy and export-ready products,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“It will ensure the production of 25 metric tonnes of tilapia, 25 metric tonnes of catfish and four metric tonnes of prawns annually. This will ultimately mean an increase in fish production, reduction in fish exports, and the enrichment of local capacity and technical knowhow through the training of youth at the centre,” the president further said.
New aquaculture plan
The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hawa Koomson, welcomed the centre, the first of its kind in Ghana. She registered her appreciation to the project contractors, Agrictop Ltd, and the consultants, ABA & Partners, for the timely completion of the project.
“The ministry has prepared a new Ghana National Aquaculture Development Plan“ to be implemented between 2023 and 2027 for the sustainable development aquaculture subsector, she announced.
“The implementation of the plan is expected to improve aquaculture production from 89,376 metric tonnes in 2021 to 211,697 metric tonnes by the end of 2027,” Koomson said.
“The operationalisation of the sector will also help to improve the implementation of the Aquaculture for Food and Jobs initiative being [spearheaded] by the ministry by providing the needed practical training to beneficiaries of the initiative to improve their skills and capacities,” she said.
The NACCF project
These crops will be grown in greenhouses (“tunnels”) that will ensure disease-probability minimisation and the highest water quality possible.
A tailor-made model has been developed in which 90 students each year will be trained (three months per student), theoretically and practically, on the operations of an aquaculture fam.
After graduation, the students will be granted the possibility to operate part of the farm on a leasing (co-operative) model, enabling them to implement their training and knowledge on a commercial level without the need to invest capital in starting their own operation.
The project was established on a “design and build” basis by MS Agrictop Ltd, and the employers’ representative is M/S ABA Partners. Agrictop will operate the fam and train students for two years.