Accra, Dec. 04, GNA – Fishermen at Apam, in the Gomoa west District, have benefited from capacity building support from the Skills Development Fund (SDF), an intervention that has significantly enhanced their income levels.
Mr. Samuel Blankson, Chairman of the Apam Canoe Cooperative Fishermen Company (ACCFC), said this had helped them to substantially reduce post-harvest losses and increased their returns.
The support involved introducing them to skills in ice box construction, safe handling of their catch and fish preservation.
They were additionally taught to best business management practices, value chain linkages and marketing strategies.
Mr. Blankson said these were helping to transform their lives and their ability to take advantage of new opportunities to grow the fishing industry.
“Thanks to the training programme offered by SDF, many of our members are now able to use innovative ways to preserve their fish in a hygienic manner in order to attract good prices on the market.
This is something that has enabled many of us to increase our sales and incomes.”
He said apart from the core vocational skills related to the fishing industry, the fishermen had learnt basic accounting and book-keeping skills.
They could now better manage their businesses than before.
Mr. Blankson also expressed excitement at the improved business environment, resulting from the building of a fish storage facility and an ice cube making factory by the government.
This was the product of an advocacy spearheaded by the fishermen with assistance from the BUSAC Fund.
The factory, which became operational in July, last year, has been serving the needs of not only fishermen in Apam but the neighbouring fishing communities of Nyanyano and Mumford.
The Chairman said it had saved them the trouble of travelling long distances and at high cost to Elmina (83 kilometres), Accra (85.5 km) and Tema (136 km), to buy ice cubes.
They used to spend an average total of GH¢1.5 million on ice blocks and additional GH¢390,000.00 to transport these to Apam annually.
“Our members were losing an average of GH¢8,320,000.00, a year, through forced sales to market women.”
He added that fishing and fish mongering activities in the area had received an injection of new energy and vigour.
“The building of the iced cube factory has reduced our operational cost and post-harvest losses as we can store fish for longer periods (up to six months).”
Currently, the factory has been producing 100 bars of ice in 24 hours and there are plans to raise the production level to 500 bars to serve the growing membership of the group - now standing at 600.