Friday 26th July 2019 marked the end of Seawright Mining Company’s (SMC) tour in Nigeria. It is part of the company's drive to get first-hand data on aquaculture.
The team left Sierra Leone on Sunday 21st July and returned on Friday 26th July 2019 as a follow-up to their previous visit in Ghana.
The sixteen man delegation included staff of SMC, Parliamentarians, representatives of government ministries, Lecturers and Students.
SMC, currently on exploration for diamond and gold which has been in operation for over six years, believes in giving back to communities in line with its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Giving an overview of the venture, SMC Chief Operations Officer, Jabulani Mkoko, pointed out that the idea was for them to understand aquaculture as practiced in Nigeria.
Nigeria, he said, has a very good history of catfish farming which is why they found it appropriate to go and learn from their experience for them to be able to put together a model that will work well for Sierra Leone.
"The most important thing I have seen during this tour is where the University of Ibadan showcases a whole value chain from the harvesting of eggs, right up to the fingerlings stage. It is a process where one needs to know and understand before venturing into catfish farming," he added.
We understand that without a proper supply of feed and fingerlings the whole project can't take off. This has been an eye opener for us to show that with the right attitude and right support anything is possible."
He said he doesn't see feed as a challenge as there are a number of players in the production but emphasized that despite the number of people offering the feed, one has to make sure the quality of feed is of appropriate standard and good quality.
He stated that after the tour, the company will sit with other stakeholders such as the government and Njala University to come up with their own model that will create a win-win situation for everybody.
Aquaculture which is a component of fish farming was the first to be undertaken by a private owned Sierra Leone company.
Chief Executive Officer Aquapet Ventures situated at Apata, Ibadan, Oyo State Nigeria, Dr. Ganiyu I. Oludayo popularly known as Dr. Fish spoke about his venture of aquaculture, production of edible fish and anna-mental fish.
He disclosed that he currently have six farms, located in different places in Oyo State, Nigeria and also sells fish farming equipment/fish feed.
He continued that there is no success without struggle. "I started from scratch but I believe in myself, committed, dedicated, with a lot of hard work."
He advised Sierra Leoneans to be determined and to work hard if they want to enjoy the business he described as very lucrative.
He said currently, Nigeria is the biggest producer of catfish in sub-Saharah Africa, therefore if Sierra Leoneans can work hard, look at their environment, they can also develop other fish that will put them ahead of other African countries."
Dr. Fish said the challenge in aquaculture business is the cost of feed which takes about 75 to 80% of production.
"If the government had tried to subsidize the cost of feed, I believe the Nigerian aquaculture story would have been more robust than it is today. If your government can step in to bring down the cost of feed or subsidize it, it will be a plus for the country," he said.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Mrs Elizabeth Hawa Ellie said Seawright Mining Company as part of their CSR have decided to embark on aquaculture which means job will be created for the youth and women.
She said they want to reduce the pressure of the sea that is why people are shifting to aquaculture including her ministry.
"The area we visited was so impressive. We saw lots of backyards ponds. Aquaculture means a lot and I hope the company will be able to achieve this novelty in Sierra Leone and also the ministry will have to engage them to see the way forward," she said.
Hon. Alex Mattia Rogers of Constituency 102, Pujehun district, the consultant for Seawright Mining Company, said they learnt a lot as there are similarities from what they saw in Ghana.
He encouraged SMC to embark on such laudable project as it is first of its kind in Sierra Leone. "I believe as long as it is in compliance, it will enjoy the fullest support of the Sierra Leone Government. One distinct thing is about the composition of the team."
The delegation visited the University of Ibadan, Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, Adekoya and Sons Farm in EPE Lagos State, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries Department among others. The last day of the tour, the team visited the Kingdom Aquarium in Ikotun Egbe, Lagos where they sells Aqua Equipment, gear, drugs, aquarium, among others.