US Ambassador applauds Sierra Leone Project

Her Excellency Maria E. Brewer, U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, has paid a visit to the SkyFox’ project being implemented in collaboration with the Njala University in Sierra Leone. The Ambassador was taken on a conducted tour guide by staff of the University and SkyFox to inspect the fish ponds and give her firsthand assessment of the project. The Ambassador also used the opportunity to interact with farmers on their farming experiences under the project.

Mr. Patrick James, SkyFox Country Managing Director in Sierra Leone, said the purpose of the Ambassador’s visit was to discuss with the University authorities and community beneficiaries on the importance of the SkyFox interventions to the aquaculture sector in Sierra Leone and examine the impacts that the project was making in the country.

“She was so delighted when she learnt from the farmers that they are happy with the SkyFox operations especially with the type of species we are culturing and the crop component also. The fingerling production facility was also a major attraction during the visit,” he said.

Fatumata Tarawallie, one of the beneficiary fish farmers, is quoted to have told the visiting Ambassador that ‘we were dealing with Tilapia fish, but SkyFox has introduced us to Catfish, and I can tell you that people like catfish and it is very lucrative; we like it.’

The Country Managing Director also says that in an interview with the Ambassador, she expressed satisfaction with what she saw in the field and encouraged the University and SkyFox to work harder in order to reach the entire country and the sub region.

The Ambassador, according to James, further encouraged the partners to keep up the good work and deliver even beyond the project by supporting existing and new farmers with inputs and technical skills to maximize the benefits of fish and vegetable farming.

In 2016, SkyFox Limited, with support from USAID, partnered with Njala University to implement one component of the Securing Water For Food (SWFF) project – the production of catfish fingerlings.

According to Mr. Patrick James, before the SkyFox intervention, there was scarcity of catfish fingerlings in the entire country. “There was not a single place in the country that someone could make an order for a ready quantity of fingerlings; not until our intervention at the University that things are beginning to change.”  He said.

Speaking on the relevance of the project, the Country Managing Director emphasized that the project had not only rehabilitated the farm being used as holding ponds for brood stocks and fingerlings; it had as well enabled the students of the University to gain first hand practical knowledge in aquaculture.

“The SkyFox intervention at the university has brought more life into the aquaculture department whereby some work had been done on the hitherto dying mini hatchery by SkyFox and had been used in more than two occasions to produce catfish fingerlings.” He said.

Before the SkyFox initiative, the water source at the farm was not being used at its full capacity due to the closure of the CORAF/WACARD project according to James. The SkyFox intervention has however been able to revitalize farming activities in the communities.

The Country Managing Director said “the University has a dark room which they were using as hatchery under a project called CORAF/WACARD to implement integrated fish culture under which they also constructed some ponds (eight in total with average size of 300m2) that are being currently used for brood stocks and fingerlings. Since the CORAF/WACARD ended in 2015, the University had not been using the hatchery to produce fingerlings due to various reasons.”

By Afi Aklayikoe and Emmanuel Addai

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