AFTER failing to take off in 2018, the government’s job creation initiative, Aquaculture for Food and Jobs (AFJ), has been rehashed for implementation this year.
The AFJ initiative, which is being run by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD), has received a GH¢2.9 million budgetary allocation under the Aquaculture Development Programme to cover the administrative cost of its implementation.
The programme is expected to provide direct employment for some 10,200 young people across the country.
The beneficiaries will be trained in modern aquaculture production techniques and supported with inputs such as fish feed, fingerlings, tanks and cages to engage in commercial fish farming under a scheme to be known as the Aquaculture Enterprise Groups.
Source of funds
A report by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the 2019 budget estimates of MoFAD noted that the AFJ programme would be implemented in collaboration with “Feed Ghana” and “Enterprise Ghana” which are separate modules under the Nations Builders Corps (NaBCo) programme.
The report also noted that further funding for the AFJ initiative would be provided by the African Development Bank and the “Fish for Development” programme of the government of Norway.
The AFJ is expected to significantly complement the government’s agenda for job creation to reduce the number of unemployed youth across the country and also whip up the human resource base of the country.
It will also soar up the country’s annual fish stock by 33,628 tonnes.
Currently, although the country consumes over 950,000 tons of fish annually, imports are about 60 per cent of the fish consumed.
The production of 33,628 tonnes annually will, therefore, significantly reduce the annual national fish imports.
As a demand driven market, the report also said the AFJ programme would produce fish for the National School Feeding Programme to ensure the availability of fish for schoolchildren to improve their protein intake.
This would provide a direct market for about 50 per cent of the fish that would be produced under the AFJ programme.
Having received stiff resistance from fisherfolk, the proposed closed season for fishing in the country’s territorial waters would be enforced this year, the report noted.
It said the ministry had already begun consultations with the national Fishers Association of Ghana on the closed season expected to be observed in 2019.
“The Ministry will collaborate with the association in the management of the closed season in 2019,” the report said.
Although there were no diversions of premix fuel recorded in 2018, the report stated that there were shortages in the market caused mainly by the hoarding of the product by members of the landing beach communities along the nation’s coast.
To help stop the practice of hoarding, the report said landing beach committees had been restructured and premix fuel stations had also been restricted to market centres.
The Anomabo Fisheries College has been under construction for many years, the report noted that it was only 68 per cent complete.
The report noted that the continuous delay of the project may lead to an increase in the final cost and urged the government to allocate adequate funds for the project’s early completion.