A a fish farmer and an economist, Kwame Pianim, has indicated the need for Ghana government to improve on sector policies for Aquaculture growth.
Mr Pianim said this at the First Hybrid Aquaculture Conference for the West African Region on the theme; the Challenges of Aquaculture Industry in Ghana.
“If we are to be part of African Continental Free Trade Area with even a bigger market of billion dollars continent instead of 400 million dollars in ECOWAS, we need to scale up, our sectors are too small. We need to make sure we provide funding for our feed companies to be able to integrate into either soybean and maize production or help people who are specialized in farming to produce for them to reduce the cost”, Kwame Pianim.
Generally, the lack of global competitiveness of the industry is a result of the high cost of feed to the sector.
Feed cost which is about 65% of production cost which comprises maize and soybean are not available in competitive values, however, most of the agricultural products in Ghana have a yield deficit of 50%, therefore, for inputs cost to reduce, Ghana must scale up production.
According to Kwame Pianim, the instability of the currency has had negative effects on both the inputs and the prices of fish products.
The constant increase in the dollar rate has accounted for the increase in both inputs and fishes. Customers used to purchase 1kg of fish for GHS1 which was equivalent to $1 a decade ago, but now due to the constant increase of the dollar rate, customers now buy 1kg of fish for GHS15-20 since GHS1 is now $5.8.
He explained that some of the policies that favor the Ministry of Food and Agriculture disfavor the Aquaculture Ministry.
“There is lack of coordination in sector policies. For instance, poultry feed comes into the country ‘ duty-free’ while we pay custom duties on fish feed, is the fish not animal as poultry as legislatures described?” he question.
In addition, Kwame Pianim said the burden of inbuilt administrative coercive levy and arbitrary regulatory and administrative fees seem to be a challenge to the sector.
The lack of coordination, digitalization, and operational link of GRA, SSNIT, and Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) administrative systems burden the operators with seeking multiple tax and SSNIT clearance certificates for renewal of exemption certificates for customs clearance at the port.
He bemoaned over the inadequate support for the sector development. There is a need to prioritize domestic aquaculture development challenges at the ministry level and balance them against premix and fish import licensing activities.
The astute economist called for the availability of quality management and operational staff. He commended the training that are been done at the university level for the sector, but what is mostly needed is operators and staff who would feed the fish and be able to monitor the health conditions of the fish.
He canvassed for more training of the youth especially women into the sector. He applauded the women who are marketing the fishes digitally for economic gains. He called for more women in that direction to inculcate more innovative ideas in the sector.