In a bid to beef up their operations Seawright Mining Company has led a fifteen man delegation from Sierra Leone to Ghana to undertake the first ever aquaculture research.
The aquaculture which is a component of fish farming was the first to be undertaken by a Sierra Leone Company. The delegation comprises Seawright Mining Team, Parliamentarians, Agriculture Ministry, the media, lecturers and students from Njala University.
Seawright Mining Company Chief Operation Officer, Jabulani Mkoko said among other things that they are looking at analysing the models that have been done in Ghana, for them to adopt the best practices in Sierra Leone after which Seawright can model their own business thereby avoiding the pitfall Ghana business went through in its initial stages.
He said from the research Seawright Mining Company will start with very limited possible challenges.
He continued to say that they have learnt all that needed, such as the appropriate supply of good quality feeds, supply of the fingerlings without which the business can’t drive and in the area of skills.
He recalled that Seawright Mining Company is still in an exploration stage and the company is trying to diversify.
He pointed out that the company is well known for its CSR in their operational areas and even beyond. He cited lot of support programs such as construction of schools, bridges and cold rooms for the community they are operating among others.
Aindo-Ansah Farm Limited in Okyereko – Winneba Eastern Region of Ghana is one of the biggest fish farms. The Managing Director Jacob Ainoo-Ansah explained that since 2010 they had been engaged in Tilapia Fingerlings Production.
He said they train and support farmers on technical skills in over six regions in Ghana and also export to Nigeria and South Africa.
On their successes, he continued to say they are supplying small farmers’ fingerlings among others.
Fish farming, he said is contributing to Ghana GDP quite significantly and about 2,200 farms have created employment and food security.
On the side of challenges, he said one need to understand the market, who to share it with, develop infrastructure and marketing which is very important.
Feeds, he added constitute about 70 to 90%, technical knowhow is also very important as technology is changing day by day and a managerial skills because it is a business.
“I will say to Sierra Leone they have to be thinking about the future, regarding food security. Fish farming is not an option; about 50% of international markets are fish farming therefore Sierra Leone cannot escape from it. If you compare it to capital fishing, capital fishing is easier but it is not guarantee. Sierra Leone should start it and take it serious; it is a business and an art.”
Lecturer, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management, University for Development Studies Northern Ghana, Dr. Christian Larbi Ayisi, explained the places he chose for the research which included the Archery for Cat Fish, the State Research Center, S-Hoint Ltd and Raanan Fish Feed Ltd.
He said fish is what everybody wants in Ghana and there is a decline in capital fishing but aquaculture has come to solve that problem in respect of protein. “Aquaculture is not a joke in Ghana, the government is pushing on it and more research is being done.”
He said Ghana started from scratch; Sierra Leone too can do the same as the team comprises Lawmakers.
“Feed is what Sierra Leone should go along with, if they do not get the right feed, everything will crash. The team should go with a positive mind that they are capable of doing it.”
Hon. Alex Mattia Rogers of Constituency 102, Pujehun District is the consultant for Seawright Mining Company. He explained that the good intention of Dr. Alfred Seawright to establish fish farm in Sierra Leone is highly welcome.
“We are in Ghana to learn the way the business is run, so that back home we will be able to do well when it will be established considering the policies as compared to Ghana.”
He continued to say from their discussion as a team, they came to realize that there is a disconnection between Agriculture and Fisheries Ministries; and they as Members of Parliament will look into the tax consumption for agricultural products because Agriculture will complement the drive of the President Maada Bio towards food security and nutrition.
Dr. Mapade Olufemi Julius Head of Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Management, Njala University described the trip as a wonderful experience and from the look of things he believed Sierra Leone could even do better.
He rebuked critics that say aquaculture is not part of Sierra Leone setup.
“In terms of water and land resources in Africa, Sierra Leone is highly endowed; I strongly believe we have all it takes to beat all the giants in the industry. I think we need to direct our strategy and do the right thing”
He said the driver of aquaculture is what Sierra Leone lacks.
“The government is trying their best but for such sector to develop we need the private sector.”
Hon. Tom Isaac Tucker of Constituency 022 Kono District described the research as one that opened their eyes and making them to understand that Fish Farming is one of the best and most important area a country need to embark on.
“We will be able to create the same in Sierra Leone from what the team have learnt, the technical experience and the wiliness of the ministries. We have to put policies together that will enhance such project”
He pointed out that Seawright Mining is one of the companies he admired due to their CSR in the two communities they are operating.
He said if this project comes into reality, it will ease the tension of fish in Kono and beyond.