A team from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources including two Experts from Vietnam, led by the Deputy Minister of Fisheries have visited Fish Farming Experimental Centres in Makali and Bo in the North and Southern Regions of the country. Speaking to the Press during the visit, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ibrahim Turay, said the purpose of their visit which also took the team to the Makali Mini Hydro Dam and Taia River was to provide an opportunity for the experts to ascertain, progress, opportunities and challenges facing the centres and proffer recommendations that would promote the development of Aquaculture in the country.
He expressed government’s desire to move the Aquaculture sector from its rudimentary stage to a viable commercial stage. He disclosed plans to rehabilitate outstations and Fish Experimental
Stations to enable the ministry experiment species of fish in the wild so that they can do well in captivity. When fully rehabilitated, the centres, he said will be used as ‘Centres of Excellence’ as well as facilities for potential fish farmers. Commenting on the challenges facing the centres, the Deputy Minister, noted that the sources of water entering into the ponds especially those in Bo are contaminated, adding that they are looking at the possibility of identifying other areas that would serve as source for quality water supply. In order to address what he referred to as the ‘poor capacity’ situation of the sector, he said his ministry in collaboration with partners are building the existing capacities to ensure that there are people with the requisite know-how to properly manage the sector, adding that staff of the ministry are benefiting from training programmes both locally and internationally. Mr. Turay also cited lack of adequate and proper fish feed as one of the challenges facing fish farming whilst revealing plans to contemplate on using the Vietnamese type of feed component for various species they will be cultivating.
He re-echoed government’s determination to create an enabling environment for the sector to grow by putting in place policies and regulations that would promote effective management of the sector. ‘We will be showcasing the full potential of the sector to stakeholders in the Private Sector after upgrading the centres into ‘full blown’ centres” he vowed, pointing out that this measure will enable beneficiaries invest in commercialise Aquaculture and make huge turn over.
He underscored the need to raise public awareness on the importance of the sector and pledged his ministry’s desire to engage communities in policy and decision making processes regarding the Aquaculture. Head of the Vietnamese delegation and Managing Director, International Management Project, Burkhard Buss said they were in the country to help the government of Serra Leone boost the agricultural and fisheries sectors, especially in the areas of rice production, seed multiplication, irrigation and Aquaculture development. Giving a brief background about his company, Mr Boss said his company has worked over thirty years, implementing European technologies in Vietnam, pointing out that they are here to introduce the Vietnamese experience in Sierra Leone, especially when the climates of the countries are the same.
He observed that ministry has been trying hard to promote the sector amidst many challenges. He expressed the need for continuous financial assistance to enable the ministry provide the necessary inputs such as water resources, feed and other logistical supports to the Aquaculture sector. Mr Buss also spoke about the need for a close collaboration between the ministry of fisheries and the ministry of agriculture to enhance the smoothing running of the sectors. Sierra Leone, he said opined has huge potential for Aquaculture development though it is not fully harnessed by the people. He therefore admonished the ministry of fisheries to undertake more trainings on the practice and set up a model or pilot a project soon to ensure the full participation Sierra Leoneans,
especially the ‘rural poor’. On how Aquaculture could boost government’s economy, the expert said Vietnam started promoting Aquaculture over the years on a small scale and now making over Forty billion dollars through the export of Aquaculture products. He called on government to fully rehabilitate the fish farming stations and encourage the Private Sector to invest in the sector to
ensure food self-sufficiency. He said they were at Taia River to identify areas for big fish farms, fresh water and suitable drainage.
Also with the team was a Vietnamese Irrigation and Hydropower Expert, Phan Viet Thery who also emphasised the need to create proper drainage facilities and identify suitable water sources for the fish ponds.
Head of the Aquaculture Unit in the ministry of fisheries, Osman Kamara said the stations have been in bad shape over the years but were given face lifts in 2018, following the rehabilitation of staff quarters and construction of a perimeter fence at Bo Experimental Station. In the area of Pond Management, he said they have posted Fisheries Officers to the respective centres and have acquired raw materials to formulate Local Feed.