Fish is the most Heavily Traded Agric Commodity in the World – Prof. Aheto

The Project Manager of the USAID/UCC Fisheries and Coastal Management Capacity Building Support Project, Prof. Denis W. Aheto, has said fish is the most widely traded agricultural commodity in the world as compared to other products in the agricultural value chain. “It is extremely important to put on record that fish, over the last couple of years, is the most heavily traded agricultural commodity compared to meat sources, tobacco, tea, cocoa, banana, sugar, among others”, he said.  The Project Manager, said funding from Overseas Development Aid (ODAs) for  fisheries research and productivity in fisheries value chain had declined over the last five years (2010 - 2015) and needed to be improved to complement the increasing funding support for other agricultural local outputs. . Prof. Aheto was addressing a delegation from USAID-Ghana, led by its new Mission Director, Ms.Sharon Cromer, at a workshop as part of her day’s visit to see at first-hand the progress of the Project in the University. Over the last five years, he said, funding for fisheries had declined by 30 % in favour of agricultural food products and forestry.  He continued: “Over the same period, funding volumes have seen a dramatic declined when it comes to fishery research, in particular”. Touching on the Fisheries sector in Ghana, Prof. Aheto said the total fish production of the country was about 400,000 metric tones and added that it was highly inadequate, compelling the government to import fish into the country. He revealed that in 2010, fish import reached 108 million Dollars, thus making it difficult for the country to achieve stability in its foreign income reserve. He added that “fish provides 60% of Ghana’s animal protein requirements and also contributes 4.5 % to GDP”. The Project Manager, who is also the Director of the Center for Coastal Management, UCC, enumerated over exploitation of fish resources, large scale poaching by foreign vessels, large amount of foreign exchange required to import fish to supplement domestic production as some of the challenges facing the fishery sector. On USAID’S Technical and Financial Assistance to the Project in UCC, Prof. Aheto said USAID/Ghana had committed 5.5 million Dollars to the project, with the University contributing 1.8 million Dollars in kind, namely: time, space, electricity, water, material resources, among others. He catalogued some of the difficulties the Centre for Coastal Management (CCT) was facing within and outside the University, including slow pace of physical works, sourcing and procurement, understaffing, depreciation of the cedi and bureaucratic system in boat registration.   He took the participants through an online platform meant to provide scientific information to support policy making in the fishing sector, FishCom Ghana , and some capacity building programmes the CCM had undertaken for the public, including security agencies, journalists, academia, students, government officials, among others. Making a contribution, a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kobina Yankson, called for support for government’s policy of building a Ghana beyond Aid. “So as a nation our goal is to be developing to the point that we will be on our own” adding that, “Our president calling on us to develop beyond aid is a good call”.  He called for strong consideration of capacity building elements in foreign aid which as a consequence would build the human resource base so as to move local projects beyond aid.