Since it was introduced in the 1970s, Fish Farming remains a largely subsistence activity in Sierra Leone, providing much-needed protein to significantly large numbers of rural households and constitutes an important component in the food basket.
Although the pace at which it is developing in the country is noticeably slow and contribution to food security and sustainable livelihoods is currently undermined by its restriction in terms of distribution and pond size, the practice has vast potential. Its potential for food security, employment and household income generation still remains to be properly exploited.
It is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Fisheries continues to encourage all and sundry, especially the Private Sector to contribute to its nation-wide. One of the Local Fishing Companies that has promptly responded to the clarion call of the ministry is the ANNSENKAL FISHING COMPANY. In a bid to demonstrate its desire to promote the practice, the company on 15th April, 2021, undertook the second phase of harvesting of fish from its ponds at Mabeakay Village, Songo, Western Area District in Freetown.
Speaking to the Media during the exercise, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Annie Joy Turay, said, as a very passionate and forward-looking player in the fisheries sector, she conceived the idea of embarking on a large scale commercial fish farming, two years ago, following her visit to Ghana where she witnessed thriving Aquaculture/ fish farming projects.
She said upon her return to Sierra Leone, she wrote a letter to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, soliciting technical advice which was approved by management of the ministry. With a dedicated team of experts from the ministry, the project she said, started modestly, supported by a handful of her own staff.
She lamented that the first phase of the project did not yield much, due to a number of challenges, including lack of appropriate Fish Feed. She said the situation prompted her to procure a consignment of feed from Senegal which later proved very useful to the development of the project.
Joy Turay disclosed plans to dip into expertise of fish feed producers in Ghana and Korea to ensure high quality products are available in the country procure Fish Feed Processing Machines and rear other species such as Catfish to maximize productivity and profit.
In fulfillment of her company’s Corporate Social Responsibility, the CEO who has also invested in the Industrial Fisheries sector said she has employed a number of youths and helped others pursue their educational careers. She called on other players in the industry to invest in Aquaculture while disclosing plans to increase the number of ponds on the thirty-acre land so as to produce more for local consumption and export.
Funds for the development of the project she averred, were provided by her and looked forward to the contribution of reliable partners. “My dream is to see fish farming flourish as an alternative source of livelihood, employment and revenue generation, especially when fish stocks are dwindling”, She added. She highlighted plans to replicate the project in the rural areas and thanked the Ministry of Fisheries for providing the necessary technical support.
Head of Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries, Osman Sheku Kamara, described the exercise as “great”, noting that its outcome is a manifestation of the fact that if fully harnessed, the potential of Aquaculture in the country will be fully realized. The Aquaculture Expert pointed out that the practice will serve as a Fall back or an alternative, especially at this point in time when Capture Fisheries is facing enormous challenges.
Aquaculture in the country, he said is gradually moving from rudimentary stage to commercial stage and called on those engaged in the practice to take it seriously. He also encouraged other investors, particularly those in other forms of fishing to engage in the practice.
Mr. Kamara emphasized the need to adopt a well-formulated Fish Feed, through the concerted effort of stakeholders in the sector and entreated all those who are engaged or intending to engage in fish farming to report to the ministry of fisheries for technical advice. He also called on development partners to help promote the practice not only in the Western Area but also in the provinces. He pledged his ministry’s continued commitment to promoting the practice nationwide and thanked Mrs. Joy Turay for a job well done.
Staff of the company and other observers who witnessed the exercise, described it as “impressive” and looked forward to more of such interventions in the country.
Thirty crates of fish weighing 600 kg were recorded after harvest from two out of six ponds with different sizes.