Officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources have concluded a two-day visit to Fish Farming Sites at Mkali and Petfu in Tonkolili district and Bo district.
The purpose of the visit was to assess the activities of fish farmers in the region with a view to providing them with necessary support that would enhance their operations.
Welcoming guests to his chiefdom at the Makali fish farming experimental centre, the Regent chief of Konike Barina Chiefdom, Pa Santigie Turay catalogued a number of they have derived from the fishing method since it was introduced to them in 1978 and called on Government to revive it.
He expressed dismay over the deplorable condition of fish farming sites in the chiefdom and appeal for facilities such adequate water supply, fish feed working tools and training to enable carry out their work properly.
A field technician at the ministry of fisheries experimental station, Alusine Bundu said fish farming has been booming but was hampered by the rebel war. He disclosed that there are over two thousand fish ponds in the chiefdom, adding that his duty is to give technical advice to aqua culturists. A fish farmer, Millicent Conteh recalled previous years when they depended on venture for their survival and livelihoods. She noted explained that the occupation is no longer helpful as they lack the necessary supports to promote their activities.
The Assistant Director of Fisheries, Kamorba Dabo said the ministry is keen on approaching issues relating to fish farming in a comprehensive and holistic manner, adding that with the help the Food and Agricultural Organization and other partners, the ministry will revive the entire aquaculture sub-sector.
While entreating them to be patient, Mr. Dabo revealed that government has introduced reforms that would help transform the fishing industry into a viable entity.
Fish farming practice he said is a vital component of President Koroma’s Agenda for Change Programme which serves as the only alternative fishing method, thereby curbing bad fishing practices. Mr.Dabo assured the farmers that efforts are also being made to provide them enough feeds and fingerlings (baby fish) to boost their production. He disclosed plans to organize a training workshop on Pond Construction and Management Services for Fish Farmers.
A representative of the Tropcal Agricultural and Rural Development Project, Mahmoud Koroma noted that the civil conflict shattered a good number of rural development projects, resulting in immeasurable social problems in the country. Food Security and Agriculture he advised should be addressed in an integrated manner to ensure sustainable economic growth.
Speaking on behalf of the Hon. Member of Parliament in the area, a youth, Abdulrhaman Mansaray said the meeting served as a platform and provided an opportunity for them to strategize and chat the way forward. He urged officials of the ministry of fisheries and marine resources to develop their own source of water supply in the area to ensure that fish ponds are in good working order.
Another female fish farmer at Petfu, Nasoko Conteh said fish farming has been her main occupation but lamented that during and after the war, it has not been able to provide the necessary supports that would alleviate their sufferings and expressed the need to revive it.
The assessment team also visited the fish farming experimental centre and Manjama Institue of Agriculture in Bo where the proprietor, Don Bosco Musa admonished government to put more emphasis on fish farming as it is the one of the cheapest means of attaining food security. Mr. Musa said fish in the ponds have not been able grow faster and bigger because of the poor quality of fish feeds and also called for support in that regard.
He said fish ponds do not only serve as demonstrative sites for students but also help provide the much needed fish products for the community.