Fish processors cry for extension officers
Majority of fish processors along the coastal belt in Ghana do not have access to the services provided by agricultural extension officers to facilitate the development of the fisheries industry, a new study has found.
The study, conducted by the Development Action Association (DAA) through a grant from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC), revealed that majority of fish processors were not aware of the presence of agricultural extension agents in their respective communities.
The study, conducted in the Greater Accra and parts of the Central regions, through structured questionnaires and focus group discussions among fish processors, also revealed that most of the fish processors, mostly women, have great awareness of the existence of the Fisheries Act 625 of 2002.
This result confirms discussions from the focus group discussion session, where responses confirmed their awareness but indicated that these laws and regulations governing the fisheries sector are not enforced.
Again, the study showed that an awareness of the fisheries law and regulation plays a key role in assisting people to acquire the needed knowledge.
The study noted that these results imply that awareness of the laws is not enough for the success of the sector, but knowledge and understanding are critical in enhancing the growth of the fisheries sector.
In light of this, fish processors are appealing to government to provide them with extension officers to educate them in their fish processing activities.
According to them, the fishing sector lacks extension officers, unlike the farming sector, which has extension officers who educate farmers on the application of fertilisers and other best practices.
At a sensitisation meeting with fish processors, which was a follow up to the BUSAC study at Bortianor in the Ga South Municipality, Nii Tackie Otoo, Service Provider for BUSAC, indicated that extension officers would help disseminate government policies related to fisheries, which were hitherto not well understood by fisher folks.
He believes, for instance, that the fish processors lamented over the close season, which was not successful in its implementation this year due to the lack of education on the issue of close season on their part.
Ni Teiko added that most fish processors and fish farmers would have bought into the initiative if there was prior education on it.
He said close season is a good thing, citing that it was adopted in countries like The Gambia and the Philippines as one of the key regulatory measures to revamp fishing activities.
The fish processors also stated that an extension officer will educate the women on the best fish processing practices, fish handling and post-harvest chain, as well as the dangers of illegal fishing.
The Executive Director of Development Action Association DAA, Lydia Sasu, said her outfit received the grant from BUSAC to undertake advocacy campaign for stakeholders in the fishing industry to fully enforce and implement the Fisheries Act, 626 of 2002 to enable members of DAA fully access the opportunities enshrined in the act.
The DAA is a non-governmental organisation at Kokrobite in the Ga South Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The association now serves as a model for local organisation leadership roles in community-based marine and coastal resource management.