Fish production in Togo covers only 35% of the needs of the population, which is about 25,000 tons. The deficit is a real business opportunity that some have quickly seized. Just like Cephas Adjomlan, who embarked into fish farming.
It’s in Kovie, a town located at about thirty km in the East of Lomé, that Cephas Adjomlan has set up his fish farm called “the hand of God”. To access his farm which spreads over two hectares, one needs to cross several kilometres surrounded by rice fields, then cross a huge red gate, guarded by a watchman.
Once inside, you can see several ponds where different species of fish are bred. “There are exactly 30 ponds,” says the owner quickly. “We farm Tilapia and catfish,” he added.
Cephas Adjomlan spends most of his time on his farm. Because he has to meet the ever-growing demand. A white helmet on his head, this fine-featured like an athlete supervises himself the feeding of the fish.
At the age of 45, this engineer in civil engineering, and analyst programmer embarked on this activity, after having discovered it abroad. “It’s in Gabon that I developed my passion for fish farming. I lived there with some on a large farm. And every morning we had to feed the fish,” he recalled with a smile.
Once back to his country, he didn’t delay to kick-start his project with less than one million FCFA. This production was originally meant for his own consumption. But after a few years of experimentation, his project finally began to bear fruits. The annual production of the fish species is estimated at 75 tonnes, of which, two-third is of tilapia. This result is far from being satisfactory. Cephas Adjomlan has been seeking financial assistance from the Government to do better.
Fish production in Togo has declined over the past five years. It went from 27,635 tonnes in 2010 to 19,887 tonnes in 2014. To enhance national fish production, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries made a bet on aquaculture which resulted in the adoption of a national strategy on sustainable development of aquaculture. This strategy aims to build technical, physical, material and organisational capacities of stakeholders in the sub-sector.
The challenge that Cephas Adjomlan has set for himself is to produce bigger and bigger tilapia. “Our tilapia is not as big as those imported, which weigh sometimes 1 kg. This is because those we produce are organic ones. We don’t feed them with growth hormones, which is the case of imported fish. They rather consume food that we prepare here at the centre, which is made of corn, soybean and lipids – a composition approved by the Ministry of livestock and fisheries. Our tilapia for instance weighs on average 250 to 300 g. But we are working on the possibility of getting between 350 and 400 g,” he explains.
If Cephas Adjomlan has won his bet in terms of quality production, he has not yet won the one of mass production. His goal is to reach an annual production of 500 tonnes within five years. About 667% of his current production.
To achieve that, he is planning to build new ponds. He will also have to protect his fish more against predators, birds, who come daily to feed themselves on his fish.
Translation: Aboubacar Alpha Barry