During our most recent visit to the continent of Africa, we took opportunity to visit Ghana for a few days as we had learned of some interest in aquaculture development by local church organizations. My stay in Ghana was very short, only three days. However, John and Carolyn Corey (my parents) stayed for a few days longer, allowing for a very valuable contact with the department of fisheries.
We spent our first day with the National Superintendent of the Wesleyan Standard Church in Ghana and one of the church's local pastors. We were shown to a garden site that is operated by the church. It would be great if aquaculture could be integrated with the production of vegetables and fruit on that property, but water is not readily available.
We then traveled to the Volta River region where we met with Mr. Bestway Zottor. He has developed a centre for skills-training--including aquaculture--of young people in that region. He has made an attempt at pen farming of tilapia with poor success and now hopes for partners who can help him retry under an improved plan.
Another day, we visited with representatives of the Bible League of Ghana. They were very enthusiastic about offering instruction in aquaculture to volunteers of their church planting/leadership training program. In fact, they identified three priority areas for education aside from the primary course-work: fish farming, snail farming, and grass-cutter (a type of large rodent) farming (prioritized in this order). Thus, it is the church community who has infrastructure and leadership capacity to be effective in demonstration, training, and support of aquaculture.
While I returned to Canada, John and Carolyn had another day to visit with local officers of the Department of Fisheries in Ghana. Francis Gao proved to be extremely knowledgeable and very willing to offer his assistance. He, too, is passionate about the promotion and support of aquaculture. John and Carolyn were shown to a government tilapia fingerling production and research facility near the dam on the Volta River.
Ghana appears to be more developed than many African countries in its ability to perpetuate the aquaculture initiative. Commercial aquaculture operations are numerous and there are government programs in place for help in farm start-up (e.g. subsidization of fingerling cost). Furthermore, tilapia is an integral part of Ghanaian diet, well-accepted, and holds good market value. Yet, there is purpose for financial and technical support from outside sources.
It seemed that our visit to Ghana paralled in many ways our experiences in Mozambique where we also had the privilege of meeting with the national leader of the Wesleyan Church and a prominent officer of the government aquaculture department, both from whom we received affirmation for our efforts. Ghana is different from Mozambique in many ways, and perhaps the need is not so profound in Ghana. Nonetheless, need remains.