Guinea-Bissau is a West African nation where 80% of people rely on agriculture for survival and over two thirds of the population lives below the poverty line. Therefore, migrating to cities, neighboring countries or to Europe is not uncommon. The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working to provide a livelihood for people in Guinea-Bissau through aquaculture, starting with the youth.
In a northeastern region of the country, 15 young people have recently learned how to farm fish. The FAO reports that before this project, all were unemployed. The Corbel River is nearby to the Pitche village, and although people were engaged in subsistence fishing, none had tried aquaculture.
The youth were willing to learn, though, and with the help of FAO set up three sites filled with 45 floating cages in preparation for farming fish. Materials, fish feed and the fingerlings were all supplied by FAO, and the labor for building cages and mooring them upriver was supplied by the youth, who were accompanied by FAO for six months while the fingerlings grew into full-bodied fish. These young people spent six months feeding the fish three times a day, keeping watch and shooing predators away, cleaning the nets and monitoring water levels. The fish were weighed each month to ensure proper growth rates.
When it came time to harvest, the tilapia was a hit considering, “In the past, the fish would be brought from the capital; it was expensive and inconvenient.” Support from the villagers encouraged the young people to continue; so they invested part of the earning to buy feed and fingerlings themselves for the next cycle of fish.
The FAO reports that each cycle produces about 22.5 tons of fish (about 90,000 fish), amounting to 45 tons each year. The success has created employment for others as they work to build a hatchery, providing a reason for people to stay in their home country. Depending on funds, FAO hopes to train more youth in the region in aquaculture and establish a cooperative to sustain the initiatives.