“In Sierra Leone, some of the clear signs of climate change are short rainy seasons, water shortages, and reduction in marine catches [fishing],” said YALI Regional Leadership Center alumna Aminata Fatmata Kandeh.
Aminata is a noteworthy aquaculture and fish farming leader. She is the founder of Agro Fish Farm, the first aquaculture company in Sierra Leone.
Sustainable fish farming is good for our oceans because it protects them from overfishing and decreases waste caused by commercial fishing. Additionally, fish farming businesses provide employment opportunities for individuals who want to protect the ocean and its habitats.
After graduating with an aquaculture and fisheries management degree, Aminata joined the WorldFish center as a research assistant. There she learned practical skills such as pond construction, fish processing and packaging, and how to manage water quality testing kits. While working with a rural community, she realized how inaccessible fresh fish were for these communities. “I realized that children are malnourished because their parents can’t access or afford high-quality protein food. It was difficult for rural people to access fresh and healthy fish due to a lack of power supply, road network, and no storage facilities. So when the project [at the WorldFish center] wrapped up, I decided to start my own fish farming company,” Aminata said.
Aminata is passionate about the Earth and the community, and she makes sure her company reflects her values. Her company, Agro Fish Farm, utilizes eco-friendly farming practices. They use few to no chemicals to protect the environment and natural ponds to grow fish without chemicals or a mechanical filtration system, and they rely on nature-based ingredients such as rice and plant-based antibiotics. The company effectively disposes of waste and reduces its carbon footprint by using eco-friendly products. To increase economic growth in the community, Agro Fish Farm provides local vegetable farmers with pond water to use as fertilizer to grow rice and greens.
Through her education and practical experience, Aminata has a wealth of knowledge about aquaculture. She encourages YALI Network members interested in starting a fish farming business to focus on three key areas:
Location: Choose a place to set up your fish farm with access to clean, sufficient water.
Availability of resources: Confirm you have access to fish farming resources such as fish seed and fish farming equipment.
A specific market: Find what is in demand for your market and location. In Sierra Leone, Aminata found that people preferred catfish over tilapia.
Fish farming is a promising career that young leaders can be involved in while positively affecting their environment and lessening the effects of climate change. “I want youth to know that fish farming doesn’t stop at the fish farm, but there are a lot of other areas along the value chain that youth can become involved in: fish farming business, fish feed production, fingerlings production, fish processing and packaging, fish processing equipment, and much more,” Aminata said.
Are you interested in learning more about how to make a positive change in the environment? Visit our YALI4OurFuture page for more tools and resources.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.