This was the conclusion of a workshop held in March 2013 in Monrovia, Liberia, in order to address the issues in the Liberian aquaculture sector. The workshop focused on identifying the gaps, needs and resources of the aquaculture sector, and the way forward for its future development.
Aquaculture began in Liberia in the 1950's, but there has been no significant growth since then. In Liberia today, around 95 per cent of production is made up of tilapia.
The sector has remained fairly stagnant due to limitations in access to good quality fish seed, feed and credit. A lack of structure also means there are problems with policy, strategy and technology in the the sector.
At present, many farmers have low fish production due to limited access to high quality feed as the costs are too high for importing.
Alongside low production, most farmers in Liberia lack the techniques and finances needed to produce mono-sex tilapia, and, as a result, ponds exceeded their carrying capacity which leads to the production of smaller fish.
With the use of Methyl testosterone to produce monosex tilapia too costly, Dr Phan Thi Van, Acting Director, Research Institute No.1, Viet Nam, who was presenting at the workshop, stated that the government should subsidise for the cost so that it can be accessible to farmers.
A Plan for the Future
In order to help the sector develop, the workshop suggested that, over the next five years, a master plan be developed. A focus on small-scale freshwater aquaculture and adopting the sex reversal technique in tilapia production were also seen as high priority for future development.
A special national programme should be established and focus on:
- Fish health
- Small-scale processing plan (dry, frozen for domestic consumption)
- Start exploring marine aquaculture
- Expand and sustain domestic market
The meeting also concluded with three project ideas to help the sector grow:
- Support to the development of aquaculture policy and governance instrument
- Assistance in building capacity for aquaculture development in Liberia
- Promotion of small and medium scale aquaculture enterprises for food security, poverty reduction and economic growth.