Tapping Local Ingenuity to Raise Fish and Livestock

This is the final in an eight-part series about the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development’s (ECASARD) work in Ghana.

Fishers and livestock keepers in Ghana face numerous challenges. For fishers, a good harvest can mean abundant fish but low prices. And the country’s small-scale chicken farmers often lose their flocks to disease. But in Cape Coast, the capital of the Central Region, two farmers’ groups are helping members find innovative ways to add value to their products and improve the health of both their animals and their communities.

Danielle Nierenberg (second from the right) meets with representatives from CEWEFIA in Cape Coast, Ghana. (Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack)

The 58 women who make up Ghana’s Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA) had a problem of supply and demand. When the hare and red fish came into season during the summer months, there was too much of the seafood available on the market to make a profit. Then, later in the year, when the fish weren’t as abundant, the women didn’t have anything to sell in the community. To solve this dilemma, the group came together to learn how to smoke and process fish, as well as process palm oil. The women are “self-taught,” making their own drying racks and much of the other equipment, according to Paulina Eshun, one of CEWEFIA’s leaders. The members share the cost of the materials—including special firewood used for smoking and the packaging for their products—as well as the profit they get from selling dried fish, fish powder, and palm oil.

For another local farmer, Emmanuel Ankai-Taylor, keeping his chickens healthy was the main motivation to take action. According to him, most of the people in his community no longer keep native chickens, but instead raise introduced breeds that are supposed to gain weight more quickly. Unfortunately, these exotic breeds tend to get sick easily and need expensive medicines to help keep them healthy. Mr. Ankai-Taylor found that adding popopoo, an indigenous herb, to the chickens’ feed helped keep the birds healthy. He also found that sick chickens that were treated with the herb would get better more quickly. To help spread this knowledge about using medicinal plants for livestock management and other sustainable agricultural practices, Mr. Ankai-Taylor founded the Center for Indigenous Agriculture and Rural Development so farmers could learn from one other.

Please check out our other posts about ECASARD’s work in Ghana: Part 1: Working with the Root; Part 2: Something that Can’t be Qualified; Part 3: With ECASARD You Can See A Real Impact; Part 4: The Abooman Women’s Group: Working Together to Improve Livelihoods; Part 5: The Abooman Women’s Group: We Started Our Own Thing; Part 6: Making a Living Out of Conservation and Part 7: New Frontier Farmers and Processor Group: Reviving Farmland and Improving Livelihoods.

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