Improved aquaculture and crop production initiative to improve living standards in Sierra Leone

Speeches Shim

Monday, September 30, 2019
Fatmata Tarawally hopes to farm catfish profitably after venturing into fish farming.
Ousmane Condé, USAID

In 2017, when SkyFox began implementing the Integrated Aquaculture and Crop Production Project funded by USAID, Fatmata Tarawally had long held the ambition to become a major fish farmer and supplier in Macbafth community, Tonkolili District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. She sells rice at the market to help her husband who is a carpenter, to raise their three children. 

“My husband is not earning enough to take care of our growing family and my rice business is not yielding much profit. So, as soon as I heard about the fish farming business proposal by SkyFox, I decided to join, because I believe it will help increase our income” Fatmata said.

In mid-2019, Fatmata and many other community members ventured into fish farming as a business by establishing catfish and tilapia ponds in Macbafth. Before they joined, SkyFox trained them on pond preparation before stocking and other best practices.

We teach them stocking, liming to kill harmful bacteria; we teach them how to feed and sort,” says Djumatu Alama Koroma, field coordinator at SkyFox Sierra Leone.

Sorting or grading is a process of separating the smaller fish from the bigger ones, because bigger ones would always feed on the smaller ones. Participants at the training were also taught how to manage the ponds between cycles of four months. The first harvest in Macbafth is around December 2019.

According to Patrick James, SkyFox Sierra Leone Country Director, fish farming can be very lucrative in this part of the country, because the environment is appropriate and reliable to take care of filtration and the water quality is good- it contains algae which can serve as feed for fingerlings at the early stage.

“With this innovative fish farming system, there is no need for expensive systems using water generator pumps, filters aerators or chemistry maintenance. There is no need for big infrastructural expense in cages to contain the fish and protect them from predators” he continued.

In the business deal with the farmers, SkyFox would provide them with improved fish feed made in Ghana on loan and they would in return sell their harvest to the company or refund the loan by paying a percentage of their profit to SkyFox.

After ten days of applying what was taught at the training, Fatmata started seeing changes in both the growth of the fish because of their positive response to algae water and the fish feed. “December is the end of my first cycle, I hope to make a good profit from the first harvest,” she said. 

The Integrated Aquaculture and Crop Production project runs until 2020 and aims to support the development of the aquaculture and crop production business model across West Africa, including Sierra Leone.