Njala University Hosts Workshop On Sustainable Integrated Aquaculture Development

Key stakeholders, including farmers, representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, staff and students of Njala University were assembled at the University Campus (Njala Guest House) on Tuesday 7th August 2012 to take part in a one day workshop on ‘poverty eradication and grassroots empowerment through sustainable integrated Aquaculture development: fish, rice and piggery production’.

Workshop on Sustainable Integrated Aquaculture Development, Njala University, Sierra Leone

The workshop was organized by the University’s Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management School for of Forestry and Horticulture, in collaboration with West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development.

The aim of the stakeholders’ workshop was to adopt innovative integrated technology compatible with grassroots farmers’ experiences and also to select project beneficiaries.

Alhaji Professor Abu Sesay is the University’s Vice Chancellor. He informed participants that his University and farmers are key stakeholders that should work together and share knowledge that should also be transmitted at community level. He reiterated the fact that Njala University should be useful to the country in agriculture, aquaculture, environmental science and forestry.

“I am satisfied with the deliberations from participants. This makes me interested to know about relevant development outcomes and tap new technologies that enhance economic development,” he said.
The Project Director, Dr. Olapade Oluwafemi Julius said the essence of the project is to reduce poverty amongst grassroots dwellers. He revealed that the US$500, 000 CORAF/WECARD project is meant for Njala University in Sierra Leone, University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and Buea University of Cameroon.

In his presentation, he assured that there is political will in the three countries to improve on food security. Some of the project activities he made mention of include: development of quality control standards; develop training manuals for farmers; infrastructure assessment and public awareness campaign etc.

The Project Director informed stakeholders that Njala University will receive 39.74% of the project cost for three years, and added that the project have started with three acres of land used for rice, fishery and piggery integration.

Mr. KK Dabo is the National Coordinator for Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource. He informed stakeholders that the mission of the ministry is to plan, develop, rationally manage and conserve all living resources of the country.

This, he said is achieved through promotion of good governance, including co-management practices establishing sustainable MCS procedures, establishing livelihood enhancement of fishing communities.

The Ministry, Mr. Dabo went on to say that plays a significant role in the national economy as they are contributing 10% of GDP, and provide 80% of total animal protein consumption.

The National Coordinator who also doubles as Deputy Director in the Ministry of Fisheries reiterated the fact that fish farming is not part of our culture and so therefore the practice has not fully taken off. “However, one way of enticing people is to embark on integrated farming practices, he said, and added that integrated approach to aquaculture in the country is very low due to low knowledge and capacity building.

Mr. Dabo assured that aquaculture activities will boost economic development when there is availability of natural environment/resources; market availability, sustainable farming activities; improved technical capacity of farmers; improved government support etc.

Other presentations made include: criteria for animal integration with rice and fish by Dr. Abdulrahman Sesay; criteria for rice cultivation in fish ponds by Mr. SM Kallon; and prototypes of rice fish-animal integration system by Dr. Mrs. Olaifa Flora.

Earlier, chairman of the event Mr. Aly Turay said the School of Forestry and Horticultural Depart of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management was established in 2007, and added that they had the first set of graduates two years ago. The University Registrar informed stakeholders that poverty reduction is not all about having money, but it includes having a balance diet.

He said the project stands as a challenge to the University, of which they have competent staff and capable students that will work to achieve the desired goal. He described the workshop as a big gesture that will form a basis of aquaculture development in Sierra Leone.
Farmers were given the opportunity to share their experiences on integrated aquaculture, and also there were open discussions on criteria for selecting beneficiary farmers, adoption of farmers and technology and visit to selected farms.