June 30, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The School of Natural Resources Management, Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management at Njala University continues in their determinant bid to improve aquaculture, which negatively impacted as a result of the civil conflict in the early ‘90s and 2000s.
The department is currently implementing the Integrated Fish Farming Project with funding provided by the World Bank under CORAF/WECARD in three countries, namely Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Head of Department, Dr. Olapade Olufemi Julius, over the weekend led farmers, students and stakeholders, including those from the University of Makeni and Njala University, respectively, on a conducted tour of project facilities at the Njala campus.
The exercise was part of a two-day training on the national Monitoring and Evaluation and Gender mainstreaming for the Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) project.
During the tour, Dr. Julius said farmers could make money through fish farming in Sierra Leone and that the sector could create employment for especially young people.
“If you package your product well you will gain the market. So many people that are in the fish farm business are novice. I therefore urge farmers to treat the business with all seriousness so that they can better their lives and that of their families,” he said.
Also, acting Vice Chancellor and Principal of Njala University, Prof. E.T. Ndomahina, registered his passion and support for whatever would foster and promote the development of fisheries and aquaculture in Sierra Leone.
He maintained that farming is one of the key agricultural sub-sectors through which food security, poverty, environmental degradation and unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa can be adequately addressed.
He stressed the need for West and Central African countries, particularly Sierra Leone, to adopt new strategies of production in order to improve on the current production.
“Women play a key role in food production and nutrition security representing 80% of farming population. In spite of the role women and youth play in food production and security, they have limited control over and access to resources and opportunities that improve household food productivity and security, hence the need for such workshop,” he said.
A farmer from Kenema, Steven Bockarie, said the CORAF project in Kenema has been a success as their business centre has never closed since its inception. “We have a very good fish pond that operates well. Our farmers have benefited a lot from rice and fish pond, poultry and a caretaker house,” he said.
The integrated fish farming project is currently being implemented by farmers in 10 locations in Sierra Leone, including Kabala, Bo, Kenema, Port Loko, Makeni and Western Rural. The hub of the project is at Njala, which has fish feed machine, crusher, sinking billets to produce feed for the fish.