Constraints and opportunities in cage aquaculture in Ghana
This study was conducted to identify why the overall contribution of the aquaculture industry to local fish production in Ghana is low (<1%) although cage aquaculture has a potential to increase production. We administered 106 questionnaires to six respondent groups (current cage fish farmers, potential adopters of cage aquaculture, farmers who have abandoned cage aquaculture, Fisheries Commission, regional and district fisheries officers, and financial institutions) to obtain insight into the constraints in cage aquaculture as well as opportunities that can be exploited to promote cage aquaculture adoption. For the purpose of this study, potential adopters are individuals who have fish-related livelihoods including fishermen, pond-based fish farmers and fish traders. We also interviewed key informants in relevant government institutions. Preliminary results indicate that lack of funds and lack of government extension services are the main constraints in cage aquaculture in Ghana. Lack of funds manifests in farmers’ inability to afford quality floating feed and could explain low production levels of current cage farmers, although most (95%) suggested they could market their fish if they increased production. Lack of funds also accounted for the inability of potential adopters and farmers who have abandoned cage aquaculture to start or continue cage aquaculture respectively. Major opportunities identified include 1) a high interest among potential adopters (97%) to start cage aquaculture and farmers who have abandoned cage aquaculture (100%) to resume if constraints are removed, 2) development of a feed production plant in Ghana by a private enterprise, 3) willingness of some financial institutions to provide loans for cage farmers, and 4) a number of government initiatives to promote cage aquaculture. Our preliminary recommendations are that the Fisheries Commission should work with the financial institutions to help determine farmers’ ability to repay loans and guarantee loans made by the financial institutions. Also, there is a need for a more specialized aquaculture extension service accessible to farmers to help with technical issues built on the model of agricultural extension services in Ghana.