President opens Ghana's $12 million National Aquaculture Centre
Ghana’s President, Nana Akuffo-Addo, recently opened the $12 million National Aquaculture Centre, in Accra, which aims to promote RAS technology, train 90 young graduates every year and produce 25 tonnes of tilapia, 25 tonnes of catfish and 4 tonnes of prawns per year.
It was built by Agritop Limited, an Israeli company, who are managing it for two years, after which they will hand it over to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
The President said that the project was a major component of government plans to produce more quality fish products, and create more jobs for graduates. The marine sector, he said, is significant not only because it employs 3 million Ghanaians, but also because it brought in some $254 million from the export of fish products last year.
He argued that modern aquaculture needed to be deployed to mitigate the threats which marine stocks have faced in recent times - from pollution, biodiversity loss and overfishing.
“One such modern technology that has these attributes, is the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), which is being employed by the centre I am commissioning today. Not only does this system offer minimum maintenance cost, and relatively low to moderate energy consumption, it also guarantees the production of healthy and export-ready products. It will thus ensure the production of some 25 metric tonnes of tilapia, 25 metric tonnes of catfish, and 4 metric tonnes of prawns annually. This will ultimately mean an increase in fish production, a reduction in fish imports, and the enrichment of local capacity and technical knowhow through the training of youth at the centre,” he said.
He called for meticulous management of the facilities to ensure value for money.
West African experts point to a number of challenges relating to the running of RAS facilities in the region, such as the unstable electricity supply in Nigeria and the high cost of electricity in Ghana.
However, speaking to journalists at the commissioning, Ben Yoder, an Israeli consultant, said: “The main advantage of RAS, going forward, is that Ghana and Nigeria are earnestly seeking to increase export of fish and fish products. What better way to do this than to use systems that guarantee high production with good quality? I think your Standards Authority and Food and Drugs Authority should work with farmers and assist them to use more RAS to earn more export revenue.”