As small-scale fisheries and aquaculture farming are contributing to reducing unemployment in the country, Bong County is gradually becoming one of the areas for the industry.
Several farmers in Bong County have now shifted their attention from the usual rice and cassava farming to cultivate both marine and freshwater species due to the introduction of a modern form of farming known as “aquaculture.”
Aquaculture is the farming of water organisms such as fish, shellfish and even plants.
According to the founder and president of the Bong County Aquaculture Association Madam Estelle Liberty, her membership has grown from 30 to 98, since she established the organization earlier this year.
In a telephone interview with the Daily Observer recently, Madam Liberty said she harvested her ponds and there were different kinds of fishes, including tilapia, heterotis, (bonny ton.)
“Aquaculture is very important because it creates a healthy environment for animals and from the beginning of this process, there were only 30 farmers, majority females but through my efforts I’m proud that the number of aquaculture farmers has increased to 98 in Bong County,” she asserted.
She added “we continue to encourage others to boost the growth of aquaculture farming with money and their time.”
Heterotis fish originated from Egypt and grows up to 12kg and it takes two years from fingerlings to maturity while tilapia takes six months for fingerlings to get mature and grow up to 1kg.
“I invested in aquaculture and recently sold over LD70,000 worth of fish and hope that other Liberians involved will produce similar quantity or above.”
She, however, expressed her frustration about the lack of storage facilities and access to marketing, which causes her to lose significantly.
She said with possible support from government, non-governmental organizations and county authorities there would be huge increase in the sector.
Madam Liberty encouraged local farmers to focus on their farming since it is their means of livelihood.
She disclosed that the issue of roads to markets remain a major challenge for farmers because their produce decay and sometimes when they harvest their fish ponds due to the lack of storage facilities they rot and cause serious problems for them.
Madam Liberty said there are plans to expand to other counties, including Grand Cape Mount.
“What prompted me to set up the organization is the interest of the women of Bong County to engage in aquaculture, and following the support from organizations like Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA), with technical support from the Center for
Agriculture Research Institute (CARI). I’m still encouraging my local farmers especially females.
“Many people say that the field is only for men but this is false. Women know how to manage and take care of such farming. If you want to join this field, know that it is not for quick money making but involves patience and hard work,” she advised.