Ghanaian and other researchers in West Africa would have to focus their attention on developing local feeds to reduce dependence on imported feeds to meet demands in animal production.
That’s a call by Professor Oyedapo Fagbenro of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology at the Federal university of Technology, Akure, Nigeria.
According to him, increasing the production and availability of cultivated food fish species in West Africa is of significant importance if the human populations are to be adequately fed.
He spoke on the need to reduce, recycle and reuse agro by-products for sustainable animal feed production in West Africa.
“Do we need to import food for humans and then for animals when there are variety of feed materials that are wasted and underutilized… we have political independence, we should also have nutritional or animal feed industry independence,” he noted.
Prof. Fagbenro was addressing a two-day International Conference on Animal Nutrition in Kumasi, hosted by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
The conference, on the theme “Agro by-products in Animal Feed Production in West Africa”, has the objective of collating a holistic approach to identifying options for optimizing animal protein production.
It attracted scientists, manufacturers and traders in the animal feed industry to share experience on the animal feed value chain to enhance food security and sustainability in animal production.
Vice-Chancellor of the KNUST, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, emphasized the need for scientists, feed manufacturers, processors and practitioners to work together to improve the feed value chain.
He said such move will ensure that “we will all be contributing actively to NEPAD’s call on food and nutrition and Goal 2 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which is to: end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
Africa’s aquaculture output to the global production remains very low, although there has been remarkable increase globally in the last half century.
Most of the production is attributed to small-scale, semi-intensive farming of tilapia, with few large-scale commercial ventures able to demonstrate long-term economic viability.
In Ghana, aquaculture is a priority to the country’s economic development agenda since it is a major source of protein.
A national policy on aquaculture was adopted in 2013 with the objective of increasing aquaculture production from the current 40,000tons to 130,000tons by 2018.
Experts say meeting the target requires the development of suitable supplementary diets using locally-available plant by-products for most of the fish farmers.
Prof. Steve Amisah of the KNUST says the dwindling population of fish in the wild requires that Ghana would have to focus on fish pond or cage production.
“If you put animals in captivity, then you need to feed them…but we should also make sure that the feed we are giving them is enough to balance all their nutrient requirements, that is why we’re talking about nutrition,” he said.
Prof. Amisah says such feed should enhance the growth of the fish without compromising the economic benefit of the farmer and without polluting the environment.
With funding from the Danish development agency, DANIDA, the Sustainable Fish Feed Project has the aim to improve aquaculture in Ghana by producing cost effective and environmentally friendly fish feed using agro by-products.
This is to help tackle the bottlenecks of high cost of feeds and the environmental impact of high protein feeds.
Prof. Peter Stov from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) says the scientific activities in developing animal feed must be seen to benefit the society and not just academia.
By Kofi Adu Domfeh | 3news.com