By Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh
As part of its commitment to sustain the agricultural enterprises of YAGEPreneurs in YAGEP Fish Clusters in Ugbokodo-Okpe and Egbokodo-Itsekiri, Delta State Government has commenced the refurbishment of the fish farm clusters.
The Ugbokodo-Okpe and Egbokodo-Itsekiri YAGEP Fish Farm Clusters located in Okpe and Warri-South Local Government Areas respectively were established in the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 YAGEP Cycles for over 200 beneficiaries of the Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) who were trained and established in Fish Production.
Speaking with the Supervisor, Mr Ari-Smart Awhinawhi, engaged by the Delta State Job and Wealth Creation Bureau to oversee the operations at the clusters, he explained that the bureau was carrying out the repairs to enable the beneficiaries and their customers have easy and diverse access to the ponds.
At Ugbokodo-Okpe, Mr Awhinawhi stated that an elevated wooden walkway was being constructed there as part of the maintenance work to protect the dykes around the fish ponds from collapsing as a result of heavy traffic on them, noting that the raising of the dykes was completed last year.
“The farmers sometimes use wheel barrows which has long damaging effects on them. The job creation bureau in its wisdom decided to create a walkway to protect the dykes. This is to ease the pressure on the dykes with the hope that more will be provided in the future.
“The dykes here were raised and the damage due to the heavy traffic corrected. Apart from damaging the dykes, the heavy traffic caused compression of the dykes which caused heavy flooding.
“What the bureau has done was to raise the dykes above flooding levels last year. This year, the bureau approved the construction of walkways,“ he explained.
In the same vein, work was on-going at the YAGEP Fish Farm Cluster at Egbokodo-Itsekiri, as according to the Farm Supervisor, a 2,500 feet wooden walkway was approved for construction in the cluster while 50 vulnerable ponds were marked for refurbishing to correct the damage caused by compression on the dykes.
“Two operations are taking place in this cluster, the construction of elevated walkways and the raising of dyke and internal refurbishment of 50 vulnerable ponds,” he pointed out.
The supervisor applauded the state government for establishing the fish farm clusters which he described as having the capacity to make Delta State sustainable in Fish Production.
He appealed to the government to provide soft loans for youth farmers and to go into public private partnership with willing investors in fish feed production in order to bring down the high cost of fish feeds in the country.
Responding, one of the beneficiaries spotted at the cluster at Egbokodo-Itsekiri, Simon Ogbiye, appreciated the government for carrying out the repairs and providing the walkways, and called for more follow-up and support package to sustain their passion for the enterprise.
“We are happy and the market women are happy about the walkways too. They call it expressway. We are hopeful that raising of the dykes will curb flooding and loss of fish during the raining season.
“We can now sleep peacefully without running helter-skelter. I call for regular follow-up and mentorship to sustain our passion for the business,” he said