General News of Thursday, 12 October 2017
Aquaculture experts have cautioned the public against the consumption of tilapia coming from sources they cannot ascertain.
The warning comes amid rife speculations that some tilapia are being bred in sewage water, treated with chemicals of toxic effects to humans and pushed from foreign shores onto the Ghanaian markets.
“It is better to go buying what you know than what you don’t know,” said Peter Kwame Akpaglo, an aquaculture specialist with the Association of Church-based Development Project (ACDEP).
“It is known that some of the fish we eat here are produced using wastewater. If you know that somebody is using water from the sewage system, you wouldn’t patronize it. That is a fact. There have been a lot of media coverage concerning the foreign tilapia, some saying they’ve discovered certain chemicals in them— especially what they use in preserving dead bodies.”
He delivered the caution at a fish fair organized at Soe-Yidongo, a community in the Bongo District of the Upper East region, by ACDEP in partnership with the Canadian Feed the Children (CFTC).
The Tilapia Fish Fair
ACDEP and CFTC, with a 19-million-Canadian-dollar funding support from the Global Affairs Canada, introduced in 2012 a project dubbed Resilient and Sustainable Livelihoods Transformation (RESULT) to boost up food security and livelihoods in the Upper East and the Upper West regions.
Since its takeoff five years ago, the project, according to ACDEP, has bettered the lives of over 21,000 farmers and rural community members in the two deprived regions. They have received support in crop production, goat and sheep rearing, fish farming, beekeeping as well as marketing and income generation activities.
At Soe-Yidongo, where a caged tilapia production enterprise was set up at a dam site in 2015 under the RESULT project, about 50 community members have been trained how to locally produce tilapia and preserve them using smoking, salting and fermenting methods for commercial purposes. And to celebrate the result of the RESULT project, a fish fair was organized near the dam Tuesday. Stakeholders, including government officials, were in attendance.
Live tilapia were harvested from the dam, grilled for impressed-looking guests and sold out raw to a happy crowd as music played in the background to liven up the fairgrounds.
“With our locally produced tilapia, you know the source, as you are witnessing today. We produce them using no chemical apart from the feed that we give to them. Truly, there are some people who produce the fish using growth hormone such that they can get the fish at a very short time. But we are not doing that. We’re using the feed that is available for them,” a proud Mr. Akpaglo stated.
Malnutrition Rate Drops after ACDEP, CFTC Intervention
Checks by Starr News revealed that a high malnutrition rate which had plagued Soe-Yidongo, Soe-Tamolga, and Soe-Asolgo (three communities within the Bongo-Soe Sub-District) for decades has dropped significantly since the RESULT project was introduced within that location.
Per the statistics Starr News obtained from the Head of the Bongo-Soe Sub-District Health Management Team, Isaac Adabre, there was 1 severe malnutrition case, 50 moderate malnutrition cases and 885 normal malnutrition cases recorded in the community in 2016. But in the about-to-end 2017, only 4 moderate malnutrition cases and 677 normal malnutrition cases have been documented. There has not been any severe malnutrition instance so far.
The introduction of aquaculture production in the community, ACDEP believes, would not only help to address the spate of malnutrition in the area but also would give a boost to household incomes.
“For six months now, the community members, guided by aquaculture specialists, have been taking care of the cages, managing, feeding the fish. The first instance of harvesting the fish, we just sold the fish. This time around, we want to add value to the produce. So, we’ve come along with women who are into fish processing and marketing to teach the women and the group members in general how to process fish into various forms so that back in their households they can use the fish to improve nutrition,” the Deputy Project Director for RESULT Project, Gordon Ekekpi, told newsmen at the fair.
He added: “The bulk of the fish is often sold fresh. But in case the sales are not going very fast, we are also teaching them how to smoke it. This is value addition we are providing for the aquaculture production. We believe it will contribute to their household incomes and household nutrition. We have 50 members to the group and some areas we realized over Gh¢50,000 within 6 months and that is quite a big income to the group members. So, we believe that this year being successful, they are likely to exceed even Gh¢50,000. They can use some of the money to provide for their household needs and reinvest parts into the programme because the project is folding up next year, 2018.”
Thank you for saving our youth— Community members tell ACDEP, CFTC
For the joyous community members, no amount of words was enough to express their gratitude for the ACDEP-led, CFTC-backed aquaculture intervention.
“We can see it for ourselves that there is poverty in the area. Our old [women] and old men are struggling to get food to feed. Many go to school; they cannot get their fees to pay. Some go to school without uniform. This project will help us overcome some of them (the problems).
“Many of us are farmers and the farming is only one season. [In the] dry season, there is no work for us. The young boys and girls who can travel do travel to [the] south to work. Some come back safely. Some do not come back. Some bring a lot of teenage pregnancies back to the village. The project has changed many of us and the traveling (migration) rate has reduced,” said the Assemblyman for Soe-Tamolga, Philemon Ataba, in an interview with journalists.
Addressing the fish-fair gathering, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Bongo, Peter Ayimbisa, entreated ACDEP and CFTC to extend the intervention to more communities with dams in the district.
“I have one request to make. You operate in only two dams in the district. I want to plead with you to see how best you’ll extend this same [intervention] to other dams within the district. If you go to Dua, they have equally a very large dam. You can extend this programme to Dua and other communities so we can together eliminate or reduce poverty in our district,” the DCE appealed.