How long have you been farming for?
I’ve been in fish farming for five years.
What size is your farm and what species do you produce?
I stock 20,000 tilapia at any one time. Due to the ISKN virus outbreak and Covid-19 production figures have been unstable. I’m hoping to do 200 tonnes by the end of this year. But it is useful to note that even though the production figures on the lake generally have been low, we are enjoying a good price.
What sort of production system do you operate?
I have 30 cages of either 5x5 or 6x6 metres. These are installed 30 metres from the shore.
Why did you decide to embark on a career in aquaculture?
I was previously in poultry farming, but having grown up close to the Volta Lake, I have always been exposed to the operations of tilapia farmers, and even though I was doing reasonably well in poultry, I felt that fish farming was a little more profitable, and there was great potential to expand. I believe I made the right decision.
What’s your ultimate ambition in the sector?
I would like to become a large-scale farmer, with at least 100 cages. I believe that, even though fish farming is picking up in other parts of Ghana, the Volta Lake has great potential, and will remain the hub of aquaculture in West Africa. So I want to expand in this sector. And I want to increase my work in the provision of technical services to startups and existing farms that are experiencing challenges.
What’s your biggest worry at work?
Like every farmer on the lake, the last few years have been more than challenging. First there was the ISKN virus outbreak, which caused mortalities of about 80 percent on most farms. I was able to limit my mortalities to under 60 percent through the use of a neem extract treatment which I developed myself. And when we started to recover from ISKN, Covid-19 broke out. We are now coming out of those challenges. But as a regular farmer on the lake I get anxious when there are very heavy rains, which affect the water levels on the cages and expose the fish to health challenges.
What’s your greatest achievement to date?
I get great satisfaction from the technical services I offer. I have assisted some farmers facing various challenges to recover and increase output substantially, and I have assisted some startups to reach very decent production levels. I get great satisfaction from these. On my farm, I believe that surviving the ISKN outbreak and Covid-19 have been no mean achievements. Both episodes forced many farmers out of business, and a few are facing real challenges.
For some of us, we are reaping some benefits from the problems. The price of tilapia is quite high now, so anyone who harvests a decent stock is making some good money. And as I travel round the Eastern, Volta and the Greater Accra Regions distributing feed, I am noting with satisfaction the recent improvements in fish farm output, due to their use of technical personnel and commercial feed. So, I believe I am playing an important role at a crucial stage in Ghana’s aquaculture life.
What piece of equipment would you most like to have on your farm?
I am seeking to acquire fish grading equipment that includes fish counters. And, together with my colleague farmers, we are discussing the procurement of an IT solution to the problem of fish theft on the lake, which sometimes reaches worrying levels, especially during peak harvests.
What’s your favourite seafood dish?
Give me fresh tilapia in light soup with fufu for lunch, and you will be my very good friend!