The Tilapia Seed Project (TiSeed) Which trained 378 fish farmers is coming to an end after 3years. The project was successful in imparting long-lasting impacts for inclusive and sustainable aquaculture in Ghana.
Ghana is the second largest tilapia producer in Africa, next to Egypt, and is the fastest growing in the last decade. But much of this growth is from large-scale commercial cage farming while small-scale fish production has been lagging severely with poor management, water and biosecurity practices, lack of access to quality fingerlings, and low productivity. The industry also suffered from fish mortality issues in 2018-2019 and further slowed down by the COVID-19 crisis, although it is showing signs of recovery.
The TiSeed project started in February 2019 with the objective of addressing some of these challenges and facilitate a speedy recovery. The TiSeed project aimed to improve hatchery operations and enable access to quality fingerlings among small-scale women, men, and youth fish farmers in 7 major-producing regions. The overall goal was to contribute to improving farmers’ management practices, productivity, and incomes. After 3 years, the project has significantly contributed to these development goals and has set a strong foundation for the Aquaculture for Food and Jobs (AFJ) programme, and other ongoing and future projects to continue.
“The project was timely and has complemented significantly the AFJ programme of the government. It has set a very good foundation in terms of strengthening the hatcheries, which are the central for good and healthy seeds for the sector. It has provided much needed technical knowledge, trainings, field visits to model farmers, training manuals, extension flyers, and WhatsApp platform, to farmers, especially the youth, who are at the center of the AFJ programme,” Mr. Mathew Oyih, Director of Aquaculture, Fisheries Commission (FC).
“I was on the verge of stopping fish farming, but this training has urged me to go into it again,” said a farmer in Sunyani. “We are grateful for this capacity building opportunity and would be pleased to have more of these trainings conducted periodically to help us have fresh ideas to improve our practices and productivity,” said a farmer in Dormaa.
“The project has successfully introduced the nursery model, which are critical for more remote communities to have access to quality fingerlings. Especially in Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions where there are limited hatcheries, farmers had to travel long distances to get their fingerlings. With the nurseries set-up, farmers now have suppliers of quality fingerlings that are closer to them. Farmers who operate these nurseries were strategically and carefully selected from the grow-out farmers who have expressed interest, have the capacity, and have been vetted and trusted by the community to have good operations and performance in fish farming. Furthermore, the nurseries are mapped (via Goggle Earth) to ensure they are not located close to any hatchery and are within a cluster of more than 20 farms as potential buyers of the fingerlings. We are seeing a lot of interest to expand these nurseries,” Dr. Seth Koranteng Agyakwah, TiSeed National Project Coordinator at CSIR-Water Research Institute (WRI).
Mrs. Mary Nkansa, Acting Head of the Fish Health Unit, FC added that “One of the major achievements of the project is supporting the development, review, and validation of the National Aquaculture Farm Certification Protocol. Fisheries Commission had been working on this for several years now and the TiSeed project had facilitated the process. The technical inputs, the field work that pilot-tested the protocol, the revisions, and the nationwide validation workshops were tremendously helpful to the Fisheries Commission and the sector,” .
The project was a unique and successful partnership with a national research institution (CSIR-WRI), supported by global technical research leaders [International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), WorldFish, and Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)-Netherlands], FC for the direct link between research and implementation, two private hatcheries (Crystal Lake Ltd and SHOINT) initially, and several more hatchery operators joining in.
“A major impact of the TiSeed project is providing quality broodstock and reviving the hatcheries, especially in the Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo regions. Revived hatcheries and new broodstock are giving the farmers in the region confidence on the fingerlings they buy and encouraging them to continue and expand their operations. It is boosting fish farming in our regions,” Mr. Hanson Dzamefe Jr., FC Regional Director, Bono Region. And, “it is not only benefiting Brong Ahafo regions; it is also benefiting the northern regions because farmers there get fingerlings from Brong Ahafo regions. It is also helping boost production in the northern regions,” Dr. Emmanuel Tetted-Doku Mensah, Officer-in-charge of CSIR-WRI, Northern region.
As a research program, TiSeed project has generated 4 seed quality assessment studies, 3 field experiments, 1 randomized controlled trial and social experiment, and 7 socioeconomic studies. Of which, TiSeed generated 5 published discussion papers and technical reports, which have been downloaded more than 3,000 times to date. The TiSeed project has also generated 5 research papers published in top scientific journals on aquaculture and agricultural policy and economics, with 13 citations to date.
“One of the major impacts of the project was on the capacity and skills development of 9 MS students; most of them are staff key institutions, such as the CSIR-WRI and FC, and are now applying their skills and continuing to contribute toward the sector development.” Dr. Ruby Asmah, Principal Research Scientist, CSIR-WRI.
Dr. Catherine Ragasa, project leader and senior research fellow at the IFPRI says “When we started the project, there were major data gaps and poor recordkeeping among farmers. Many farmers could not estimate production, inputs, and costs because they did not record and did not pay close attention to the business side of fish farming. The project worked hard to improve recordkeeping among farmers. The project worked very hard to impart knowledge on marketing and economics and how to think more of fish farming as a profitable business. With the project, we have generated credible database on production, profitability, and socioeconomics of fish farmers in 7 regions with 3 rounds of household/farm survey (2019, 2020, 2022).”
Mr. Sena Amewu, Senior Research Officer, IFPRI-Ghana, says “We have generated new knowledge and research findings from our series of surveys, field experiments, and assessments. These were significant data and evidence gaps that the project filled in. And, we can confidently say from our survey results and rigorous impact evaluation that many farmers have improved their record keeping, management practices, and production.”