Effects of coronavirus on Ghana’s aquaculture sector

BY AGRICTODAY.COM.GH - Apr 30, 2020 at 3:03pm 100

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The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly affected every activity and the sectors across the globe. As it stands now the global confirmed cases of the pandemic is 3,221,029 with 228,252 deaths. Ghana was hit with the pandemic early this year with 1,671 confirmed cases with 16 deaths as of 30th April 2020.

To mitigate the spread of the virus in Ghana, the President of the Republic, early this year issued some directives. These include closure of borders, social distancing, prohibition of public gathering and partial lockdown at Greater Accra Region, Kasoa and Ashanti Region.

Although it is too early to ascertain the full economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic, there are many indications showing a downtrend especially in the agriculture sector.

According to research, protein helps in metabolism by providing structural support and by acting as enzymes and hormones in the body which plays an important role in recovering from Covid-19 which emanates from agriculture.

To the aquaculture, an industry in agriculture has had its bite from the pandemic. According to the Chief Executive Officer of Chamber of Aquaculture, Jacob Adzikah, demand for fresh tilapia and catfish has dropped significantly due to earlier lock down of Accra and Kumasi, restrictions imposed on tourism, closure of restaurants and social distancing policy introduced by the government.

He said that tilapia and catfish were matured for the market but Covid -19 pandemic delayed orders from buyers. “Disruption of the entire industry (stocking plan) as tilapia and catfish remain in the cages and ponds as a result of the pandemic and its prevention directives and farmers may not achieve the usual 2 cycle’s production for 2020”, he bemoaned.

Speaking on behalf of the fish farmers and the value chain actors, Mr. Adzikah explains that the increase in production cost as tilapia and catfish remain in cages which have to be fed continuously during the periods of restrictions to maintain the weights of fish is highly draining them financially.

As a result businesses are witnessing a downward trend in revenue and their cash flow is affected. Businesses are struggling to pay workers salary and bills as revenue keeps dwindling.

He made some recommendations for the value chain actors which would ease their financial burden as the world continues to fight the pandemic.

Recommended Strategy by COA Ghana. Farmer should adopt the maintenance feeding approach where they feed to maintain the weight of the fish and decrease production cost Farms with cold rooms may harvest and store. Better still negotiate with cold room facilities to store harvested fish.

Increase biosecurity measures on the farms to prevent any pest or disease exposures.

Re-negotiate with Creditors and Suppliers on terms of engagement during the COVID-19 containment period.

Alternatively farmers should suspend new stocking and avoid generating additional running costs.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development should support farms with stimulus packages such as subsidized fish feed, increase aquaculture extension services and or facilitate soft loans for industry players to kick start the aquaculture industry when the Covid-19 disease pandemic wanes and restrictions are eased.

The Chamber of Aquaculture Ghana is a nonprofit professional body established to promote sustainable aquaculture practices through research, advocacy, innovation, networking and collaboration among key industry players.