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General News
Banks urged to support aquaculture 2/1/2007
Asutuare (E/R), Jan. 31, GNA - Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Fisheries, on Wednesday appealed to financial institutions to set up an Aquaculture Development Fund to assist entrepreneurs who desired to go into fish farming.

She said fish farming had the potential to overtake the production from marine fishing since the ocean was gradually becoming depleted due to over fishing.

Mrs Asmah said this when she interacted with some members of the Council of State led by Professor Adzei Bekoe, Chairman, and officials of some of the financial institutions during a visit to Tropo Farms Limited, a commercial aquaculture farm at Asutuare in the Eastern Region.

Tropo Farms is a private investment that started producing tilapia about four years ago with a harvesting capacity of between 12 tonnes to 14 tonnes of fish every fortnight with some fishes weighing as much as a kilogram and more and was mostly patronised by hotels and restaurants operators.

Wednesday''s visit marked one of the harvesting periods of the farm and the Ministry of Fisheries organised the visit to give a first hand information to the Council of State Members and financial institution Managers on the viability of aquaculture in the country.

Mrs Asmah said investments in fish farming had the potentials of increasing the country''s GDP since about 10 per cent of the land surface was covered with water and there were a number of land areas that could also be conveniently used for fish farming without interfering with crop farming productions.

She said the biggest problem facing investors was access to credit facilities, which the banks were unwilling to give hence the need for the first hand exposure for bankers and Council of State members for them to appreciate that there were potentials in the aquaculture industry.

"We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China, the largest producers of aquaculture in the world to assist us (Ghana) to be able to produce on a large scale to feed the West African Sub-Region hence the need for capital.

"We have the potentials to capture the market and with a little hard work from all stakeholders Ghana can become the number one tilapia market in our Sub-Region," the Fisheries Minister said, adding that the Chinese expert were asking for 2,000 hectares of land to start with. Mrs Asmah said currently there were only three large-scale commercial aquaculture farms in the country with Tropo Farms being one, although there were a number of small-scale farms too.

"With expansion in the industry, the price of tilapia could come down and would also be accessible to all families irrespective of financial status just like other fishes," she said.

Mr Mark Amechi, Managing Director, Tropo Farms, said commercial fish faming required massive investment, but the returns were equally good. He said Ghana had the human resource for such investment and the market was equally good, but the biggest challenge was access to land or building cages across the water bodies, which were guided by strict rules.

Mr Amechie said there was a huge demand for aquaculture fish in the market, which was currently not being met hence the need for more competitors in the industry.

"Ghana also has a good location within the Sub-Region hence has the potential of capturing the market if only investors put more into the industry to meet both the local and export needs," he said, and called on the banks to loosen up and support fish farmers. He also called on the Government to introduce a faster growing tilapia variety to support farmers.

Currently there was a ban on the importation of tilapia of any kind into the market.

Prof Adzei Bekoe expressed satisfaction with the tour and expressed the hope that a lot more attention would be given to fish farming He said: "This fish farming if taken seriously can bring about a change in our consumption as well as production patterns." Mr Joseph Okine-Afrane, Deputy Managing Director, Prudential Bank Limited, who spoke on behalf of the financial institutions that visited Tropo Farms, lauded the Project and said it needed to be replicated in all the regions to meet the fish demands.Source:

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