Most quality aquaculture (fish) produce is imported into Ghana. This, together with high logistics costs, leads to price rises and reduced employment of the local population. To challenge this situation, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) has created a sustainable aquaculture farm, which trains and employs local young people to cultivate quality produce, thereby reducing quantities of imported frozen fish from the sub-region and beyond.
Agritop was brought onboard to provide an end-to-end service, including initial planning and design, provision of water, electricity and sewage infrastructure, followed by the
construction, supervising, training and ongoing management of the project. This farming complex is now a center of excellence, providing training in modern commercial aquaculture production.
The aquaculture production farm and training center, which was constructed over one year on a five-hectare site at xxx, comprises modern aquaculture systems, cold storage facilities, packing house, warehouses, workshop, office and living quarters. The aquaculture facility is a series of high tunnels that allow tilapia, catfish and shrimp to grow in a protected environment. The fish thrive in PVC-lined growing tanks covered by a galvanized shell. Sophisticated systems control feeding, light intensity, humidity, water treatment and ventilation to optimum levels for food production.
Careful postharvest management ensures the produce reaches maximum yield. At maturity, the fish are stored and transported in ventilated refrigerators to increase their shelf life. Safe handling and packaging preserve quality throughout the distribution chain. The packaging is designed to follow an approved brand identity. Food for export is certified to comply with target markets. Prices are set in accordance with market demand.
The aquaculture training qualification is undertaken by a cohort of 24 students three times per year. The students, who have been selected as suited to a program of study, follow a daily program of theoretical learning and practical application. Both trainees and supervisors live on site in well-furnished dormitory accommodation. Meals are provided and students receive a transport allowance. Following completion of the course, the newly qualified aquaculturalists assist with the training of the next cohort. This training scheme nurtures a new mindset towards agriculture, where young farmers are educated and encouraged to become agricultural entrepreneurs who are self-sufficient and have an open mind towards continued learning. The course aims to transfer knowledge and improve the involvement of agricultural graduates, young people and women in agriculture.
The MoFAD has created an innovative aquaculture model, where the project sustains itself through full cost recovery and profitable operations, thanks to a combination of Agritop’s private sector knowhow and the implementation of a hi-tech aquaculture production system. Due to the food safeguarding systems employed and the nature of modern aquaculture farming, important environmental benefits are also realized: excessive chemical usage is eliminated and chemical residue in food is reduced significantly. Water management is also improved, with water pollution eradicated and 90 percent water efficiency achieved compared with 60 per cent from open ponds. Controlled water usage helps provide a sustainable supply for current and future generations.
How the aquaculture center benefits Ghana:
Training is done by combining in-class learning with technology demonstration and practical in-field experience. Major training subjects are:
The course outline for Aquaculture farming may include: