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Successful fish farmer in Aweil employs and empowers women despite COVID-19 challenges

South Sudan NEWS PORTAL

Successful fish farmer in Aweil employs and empowers women despite COVID-19 challenges unmiss south sudan

A group of women in Aweil is being trained on how to manage a fish farm and hence earn a salary.

Valentino Achak Deng, a fish farmer in Aweil in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, has started a project to empower rural women by giving them skills to engage in small-scale fish farming. To this end, he has secured 7,500 specimens of fish to train interested women.

“I will identify women from the local market who would like to run the ponds in Aweil town,” says Achak, who is a teacher by profession. “There are a lot of women selling fish in town. They go to the swamp very early in the morning, buy fish from the fishermen and sell it,” he explains.

The COVID-19 pandemic is complicating his otherwise successful fish farming business. Despite being a successful Fish Farmer in the area, Achak expressed concerns on maintaining the COVID-19 preventive measures and running the fish business.

“Preventive measures such as social distancing is a challenge for us. I have three ponds requiring cleaning and other maintenance every ten days, but currently most of my staff are at home,” he says.

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While the South Sudanese consume large quantities of fish, farming the delicacies is a rare activity in the country. High initial costs put off most people interested in this business model.

“Setting up a fish farm is expensive: digging the ground, buying cement to build the ponds, constructing bore holes, collecting and buying the initial fish – everything is costly. However, once the fish have grown you make a profit within a year”, says Achak.

His business may be less than a year old, but Achak is currently producing both catfish and tilapia, thus adding a significant amount of fish to the local market. The entrepreneur has enjoyed such a successful start that he is already enlisting the help of others to keep his ponds running.

“I have taken some of the first produce to the market,” says 18-year-old Abak Ayei, a female worker at the farm. “When I was young, I didn’t know how to catch fish, but I have learnt how to do that, and also how to cook the fish in different ways. Now I’m teaching fellow students these skills,” says Ayei, who is also a student at Alok Girls’ Secondary School. Working at the fish farm means that she can pay her school fees.

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It is not only the Coronavirus that influences the fish farming business. The weather is another important factor, and the delay of the rainy season means more hard work at the farm, to keep the fish alive.

“I’m changing the water in these ponds every two weeks due to the hot and dry weather, and I feed the fish twice a day,” says 25-year-old Moses Mabouch Wek. “Working here has changed my life. I want to continue improving my skills and my financial situation,” he says with a smile on his face.

Ever the busy bee, Valentino Achak Deng the fish farmer is also involved in large-scale crop farming and animal husbandry. Despite his tight schedule, he has found a bit of time to collaborate with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and its current COVID-19 awareness-raising campaign across the country.

Original full article available on the website → UNMISS - United Nations Mission in South Sudan

Credits : UNMISS - United Nations Mission in South Sudan (https://unmiss.unmissions.org/news) → Author : South Sudan PRESS REVIEW

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