Sustaining Ghana’s Aquaculture Industry: The vital role of fish health laboratories

Aquaculture is a growing industry in Ghana, poised for growth from the wave of individual and group interests in the business

Kofi Asante, a fish farmer rearing fishes somewhere in Akosombo poured his heart and soul into his aquaculture farm. He carefully tended to his fish, nurturing them from fingerlings to full-grown specimens. 

For years, his farm flourished.

However, his fortunes took a tragic turn when his farm fell victim to a scourge of poor fish health. It began with subtle signs – a few fish exhibiting unusual behaviour, others succumbing to mysterious ailments. Despite his best efforts to address the issue, the situation quickly spiralled out of control.

As the outbreak ravaged his once-thriving farm, Kofi found himself facing a grim reality. The toll of poor fish health threatened his livelihood. With each fish lost, Kofi felt the weight of his losses. 

Aquaculture is a growing industry in Ghana, poised for growth from the wave of individual and group interests in the business.

The knowledge to begin it is important, and so is the capital for it but there’s often an overlooked element: fish health management.

Fish farming is expanding, no doubt, and so are the challenges of maintaining the health and productivity of aquatic life.

Central to this endeavour is the presence of a laboratory.

Effective aquaculture development can only be achieved sustainably with prioritizing fish health management, necessitating a laboratory’s inclusion.

Without such a facility, it becomes impossible to pinpoint the causes of fish illnesses or deaths. Identifying these reasons for fish deaths is important for implementing targeted responses and ensuring an aquaculture operation’s overall health and success.

Funding Struggles and Functional Dilemmas

Kofi Nti Agyarko is a professional stationed within the Fish Health Unit at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in Koforidua. In an exclusive interview, Agyarko paints a vivid picture of the semi-functional laboratories awaiting a catalyst for operation – electricity. Despite the installation of essential equipment, these facilities teeter on the edge of functionality, awaiting the much-needed infusion of funds to kickstart operations.

“Now we have a semi-fully functional lab, let me put it that way,  where almost all the equipment is installed. But as of now, we’re just waiting for funds to purchase or get electricity to get the lab kick-started. If we could get a constant electricity supply, I think we can do everything in the lab, because we have almost everything to keep a lab running.”

Why will the sporadic provision of power dictate the pace of scientific inquiries? 

Despite the pressing need for financial support, a fish and health advisor, with the Norwegian Veterinary Institute Dr Kofitso Sewornu Cudjoe reveals a surprising lack of formal requests for funds from the veterinary institute. He explained that laboratories should have a constant flow of funds being pushed into their sustenance, highlighting the need for a shift in mindset for the government and institutions to prioritize the sustained operation of these facilities.

 Critical Operational Requirements

Aside from the need for uninterrupted electricity to sustain the functionality of automated equipment. If the power supply falters, Dr Sewornu warns of dire consequences, such as the destruction of sensitive reagents. 

“The equipment has to stay on for 24 hours because everything is fully automated. So they will need a constant supply of reagents to maintain it. And then electricity has to be on 24 hours. Otherwise, some of the reagents like wax will kick up and then it will be destroyed. So there are certain basic things which they cannot just run like any other lab.”

Dr Sewornu also stressed the importance of continuous reagent supply and ongoing personnel training. For this to become a reality, Sewornu calls for proactive funding from either the government or universities to procure essential resources.

The Call for Sustainable Support

Kofi Nti Agyarko reinforced the role of consistent financial backing in ensuring the efficacy of laboratory operations. Memos penned in earnest appeal for support linger in bureaucratic limbo, awaiting the green light that could transform these facilities from dormant relics.

“The commission from time to time gives some stipend for the office to buy power.  But looking at the lab, if they don’t give that extra fund or that extra electricity, the lab cannot function properly, and that is the truth of the matter. And has the attention been drawn to it? Oh yes, I’ve written memos on several accounts waiting for approval of the memo and then some financial support to come.”

Agyarko advocates not merely for sporadic interventions but for a paradigm shift towards sustained funding to strengthen the work of fish health laboratories.

Collaborative Efforts And A Vision for the Future

Looking ahead, both Kofi Nti Agyarko and Dr Kofitse Sewornu envision a future where support for aquaculture transcends mere rhetoric and translates into tangible actions. 

Through partnerships with institutions like the Norwegian Veterinary Institute opportunities for hands-on training in histopathology emerge.

These initiatives enrich the knowledge base and empower professionals to navigate the intricacies of fish health with precision and proficiency.

Sustainable funding mechanisms and recurrent training programs are key to unlocking the full potential of Ghana’s fish health laboratories. 

All hope is certainly not fished out in the aquaculture industry!

Reporting by Caleb Ahinakwah in Accra

Asaase Radio 99.5 broadcasts on radio via 99.5 in Accra, 98.5 in Kumasi, 99.7 in Tamale, 100.3 in Cape Coast and on our affiliates Azay FM 89.1 in Takoradi, Bawku FM 101.5 in Bawku, Beats FM 99.9 in Bimbilla, Somua FM 89.9 in Gushegu, Stone City 90.7 in Ho, Mining City 89.5 in Tarkwa and Wale FM 106.9 in Walewale
Tune in to broadcasts, Sound Garden and TuneIn
Follow us on Twitter: @asaaseradio995
Live streaming on Also on YouTube: 
Join the conversation. Call: 020 000 9951 or 0548888995. Or WhatsApp: 020 000 0995.


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected