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Are small-scale freshwater aquaculture farms in coastal areas of Ghana economically profitable?

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Marine fish stocks in Ghana are in serious decline, while local demand for fish has outstripped supply due to a combination of factors led by over-fishing. To sustain per capita consumption of fish, the Government of Ghana has positioned aquaculture as one of its top priorities. Aquaculture is projected to meet the deficit in the country’s fish requirements. However, there is paucity of information on the profitability of smallholder aquaculture farming practices to guide planning and investments in the sector. This study was carried out on 40 farms across all four coastal regions of Ghana namely Western, Central, Greater Accra, and Volta Regions to help address critical bottlenecks facing smallholder fish farming practices. Three profitability metrics, i.e., benefit-cost ratio (BCR), payback period (PBP), and return on investment (ROI) were used to assess profitability. Regression analysis between investments and revenue outputs revealed cost factors that were significant and positively influencing revenue generation from aquaculture farms. Average BCR for smallholder aquaculture farms for a 5-year period was estimated at 1.14. When disaggregated, tilapia profitability was higher (BCR = 1.16) compared to catfish (BCR = 1.11) but not significant. The results showed that both tilapia and catfish farming had positive returns on investment. However, in the long term, profitability from catfish was higher (ROI = 0.74) than tilapia farming (ROI = 0.73) but not significantly different. Tilapia farms recorded shorter payback time of 7 years when compared to catfish farms estimated at 9 years. This study calls for stronger commitment of government and stakeholders to address the issues of high cost of fish feed and access to fish fingerlings and markets, while improving specific on-farm management practices.

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The authors are indebted to the farmers who dedicated their time to contribute to the research interviews.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


The authors are grateful for funding for this research from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USAID/UCC Fisheries and Coastal Management Capacity Building Support Project [PIL No.: 641-A18-FY14-IL#007] implemented by the University of Cape Coast’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

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Correspondence to Denis Worlanyo Aheto.

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Section A: Farm details

figure a

Section B (Variable costs)

figure b

Section C (Fixed costs)

figure cfigure c

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Aheto, D.W., Acheampong, E. & Odoi, J.O. Are small-scale freshwater aquaculture farms in coastal areas of Ghana economically profitable?. Aquacult Int 27, 785–805 (2019).

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