Graphic Business News

Nearly 60% tilapia market lost to COVID-19

By: Maclean Kwofi
The tilapia market has been hard hit by COVID-19
The tilapia market has been hard hit by COVID-19

Firms into fish farming in the country have been recording drastic reductions in their income levels as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Since the virus was recorded in the country, the firms that supply mainly tilapia in large quantities to the market have been hard hit, with the estimated financial cost differing from one firm to another.

Some of the firms, indicated that their March supply reduced from 250 tonnes to 140 tonnes while April supply also dropped from 250 tonnes to 108 tonnes.

Others maintained that supply to the various markets were gradually improving after the restriction on human movement was lifted in both Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi.

Farm visit
The firms made this known when officials of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD) and Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences of the University of Ghana (UG) visited their premises to ensure they put measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.

The firms visited included the farms of Tropo Farms Limited in Mpakadan, Triton Aquaculture Africa Limited in Dodi Asantekrom, and China Fujian Fishing Ghana Limited in Asutsuare whose license was revoked last year.

The impact
The Farm Manager of the Triton Aquaculture Africa Limited, Mr Watson Pasipamire, observed that the pandemic was having a grave impact on the operations of Triton Aquaculture, as the company’s sales have gone down drastically.

“In March, we were supposed to sell 250 tonnes of tilapia, yet we sold 140 tonnes, similarly in April we were able to sell only 108 tonnes as against a target of 250 tonnes,” he said.

Although the company is facing challenges amid this pandemic, he said it had not sacked any of its employees.

Earlier outbreak
Before coronavirus, the Farmer Manager said the industry had just started recovering from the outbreak of the infectious fish spleen and kidney virus disease which occurred in 2018.

He noted that Tropo Farms lost about three million fingerlings as a result of the disease.

“And just as we started recovering from the disease which killed about three million fingerlings from our farm, we have been hit by another disease which is presenting us from selling our produce.

“We were targeting to sell about 3,000 tonnes of tilapia in 2018 but we sold only 1,800 tonnes,” he said.

Mr Watson Pasipamire (right) interacting with official of the EPA and MoFAD during the visit.

Same situation 
For his part, the Senior Human Resources Manager of Tropo Farms Limited, Mr Douglas Hagan, observed that sales situation was not different at Tropo Farms, as supply has reduced by 50 per cent to 30 per cent.

“So as part of the pandemic, there has been a reduction in our sales level.”

This, he said meant that the fish which under normal circumstances could have been sold in the market was still occupying space at the facility.

“Fish is like poultry, if you intend to sell them and for one thing or another you are not able to do so, they will not only cost you space, but rather feed and time as well.

“And, so the current situation has slightly affected our production activities because we still have old fish stock that should have been sold long time ago for new ones to be restocked,” he said.

Management strategy
To mitigate the impact, the HR Head indicated that management of the farm has started implementing a strategy to put some of the workers on extended leave.

“This will help reduce the number of people at the farm at a particular time.

“We are anticipating that COVID-19 will pass soon and we will get busy again,” he added.