Published: 15 Aug 2016 Source: University Relations Office (URO)
A 2-day international conference on animal nutrition has been held on the theme, “Agro By-products in Animal Feed Production in West Africa” from the 8th -9th August, 2016. The conference was organised to bring together knowledge, information and data on agro by-products for dissemination across the sub-region for a holistic approach to identifying options for optimizing animal protein production.
The conference is part of the Fish Feed Project (13-PO1-GHA) aimed at improving aquaculture in Ghana by producing cost effective fish feed using agro-products. The project tackles two main bottlenecks to aquaculture production: high cost of feed and environmental impact of high protein feeds.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, stated that Africa had myriads of challenges and we are called to be partners in bringing relief to our people. He noted that doing this contributed significantly to making the university relevant to the needs of society and to NEPAD’s call on food and nutrition and Goal 2 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals which is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
Professor Obiri-Danso stated that advances had been made by individual researchers in laboratories and field trials on various aspects of the use of agro by-products in animal nutrition and that as scientists, feed manufacturers, processors and practitioners, there was the need to move out of our small corners and work together, share ideas, best practices and challenges towards improving the feed value chain. He commended organizers for bringing researchers, stakeholders and industry together.
Professor Steve Amisah, a member of the Conference Organizing Committee, said that aquaculture was a major priority on Ghana’s economic development agenda since it was a major source of protein. A national policy on aquaculture was adopted in July 2013 with the objective of increasing aquaculture production from the current 13,000 tons to 40,000 tons by 2018.
Prof Amissah explained that in meeting this target, it had become essential to develop suitably complete and supplementary diets using locally available plant by-products for most of the fish farmers in Ghana for use in grow-out facilities due to the prohibitive cost and limited availability of fishmeal. Various surveys had suggested that Ghana had sufficient agro-products, particularly oilseed cake resources to satisfy current and future demands from aquaculture.
Professor Amisah noted that by using agro-by products in feed formation, the project sought to produce nutritionally balanced feeds that met the requirements of tilapia. The project had screened several agro by-products such as cotton seed cake, groundnut cake and husk, copra cake and palm kernel cake. Eight test diets had been formulated and were being tested under experimental conditions to select the two best performing diets for tilapia which would then be mass-produced.
Professor Oyedapo Fagbenro, Federal University of Technology Nigeria, the keynote speaker, indicated that increasing the production and availability of cultivated food fish species in West Africa was of significant importance if the human population was to be adequately fed.
He called for measures such as maximizing the efficiency of current aquaculture production systems so that all existing resources, including human skills, animals, facilities and feed are used as efficiently as possible.
Prof. Fagbenro also called for the establishment of the agro by-products that could be used in aquafeeds that are currently either unused or used inefficiently. He also advocated for developing local crops that could be grown to supply the nutrients currently obtained from imported feeds, and that much attention should focus on endogenous toxins and anti-nutritional factors in agro by-products.
He said for sustainable production of aquafeeds, the use of locally available least-cost, least-risk, environmentally-friendly, water-stable and nutritionally complete agro by-products should be encouraged.
In conclusion, he said the profitability of many aquaculture enterprises now depended on the use of aquafeeds consisting of agro by-products. This change in the traditional approach to aquaculture feeding had led to a more responsible approach to nutrient supply, which should result in the utilization of less cereal and more root and tuber crops, traditionally used in human foods.