The research project ‘Aquaculture in Africa – Unlocking the Potential’ was designed to identify success factors in fish culture through a programme of comparative study of fish culture strategies and involvements in China, Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria. Studies in each country are being led by partners from the countries. The study commenced immediately following the Inception meeting, held in Nanning, China in April 2014.
Research methodology was mainly the fielding of a common semi-structured questionnaire, jointly developed at the inception meeting, by study teams from all the countries. The questionnaire was aimed at documenting data and information on representative fish culture enterprises including fish farms, fish hatcheries and fish feed enterprises in the project countries.
The methodology included an innovation: which was that the administration of the questionnaire for sub-samples of enterprises studied in each country was done in the presences of team leaders of all countries involved in the study. The purpose of this was twofold:
- To share and demonstrate success factors between countries
- To bring fresh insights to a system that is intimately known to those leading the research in their respective countries
The participative element of the research commenced during the inception meeting in China, where field visits, which also tested the study questionnaire, were undertaken. Outputs of these were reported on in the inception report. Substantive studies taking place per country would later be reported on in greater detail as case studies.
Common and important themes emerged during the participatory research component of the study. The two overarching themes – or success factors identified were:
- That a successful and expanding aquaculture sector is rooted in a demonstrably sustainable business model
- That the sector is driven by committed individuals who apply a professional approach at every link in the business chain.