Tuesday 28 October 2014


Nicole Pelusio on canoe (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

I am really grateful to have a chance like this one for joining an international   research team  working on  Black Soldier Fly production  in relation to  incorporation into commercial aqua-feeds, and test them directly into production conditions of a commercial tilapia farm.
 After all the  challenges  met on the way, the risks and demotivating days, there are no words for describing this experience. Within the sunny and colorful habits, I joined as well the great mood of Ghanaian  people and colleagues: they really kept shiny  even when the rains came and day on day you had to work out on the cages in the bad weather...

Nicole on wooden platform (credits:Francis Murray).

The list of names of people preciously helping this growth trial would be almost endless, so I have to be general.
I am really grateful to anyone, from above to below: the coordinators of PROteINSECT project, the researchers, and people who joined and helped in every single thing, the bigger and smaller ones.
Special thanks are referred to the supervisors from the  Institute of Aquaculture  University of Stirling, (UK), the incredible staff of the commercial tilapia farm (every day I learnt many things from them and they were  fantastic with me), to the fish-feed factory staff for their cool availability, to the  tilapia fingerlings and to the Black Soldier Flies, hoping that they can be helpful for the project’s purpose for a better future.

Special thanks go to Miss Emilie Devic: she was very kind to me, helped in getting the confidence to  living (above all to not getting lost!) and working  in Ghana, training me  and correcting my mistakes with great problem solving skills and   continual  patience, even though she was far away looking after other works and duties.

Emilie Devic (credits: William Leschen).

From BSF larvae, to feed, to tilapias (credits:Nicole Pelusio).

This insect larval feeds based   trial carried out on a commercial tilapia cage farm in Ghana, was  the first of its kind not just in  this Country  but also in West Africa.  It was carried out as part of the ECFP7 funded PROteINSECT project    http://www.proteinsect.eu/  . 
The data from the trial are now being analyzed and further laboratory tests are being carried out at the Institute of Aquaculture University of Stirling, (UK) on post-trial   body carcass composition by Stirling PhD student Emilie Devic. 
 When completed, the results will form part of Emilie’s PhD thesis which when published will be freely available online on the University of Stirling website.

 For further  information about the  trial and/or the project, please contact Emilie Devic  emilie.devic@gmail.com   or if you wish to contact  myself Nicole Pelusio, the author of this blog    nicole.pelusio@studio.unibo.it

Thanks for reading!   

Day 45- Last final Sampling, Betting and Flight.

Emilie and Jemimah counting batches of 30 subjects (credits: Pierre-Olivier Maquart).

Today our fish were sampled for the last day. After 24 hours of fasting, in the morning at 8 am a large wooden platform was pulled close and adjacent to the trial cages.

Sacrificed fish for analyses (credits: Pierre-Olivier Maquart).
Then from each cage all the fish were firstly crowded up in the cage then gently netted out, grouped by 30 into bowls with water containing plastic baskets. Then each batch (of 30 subjects), was weighted due to gaining the ABW (average body weight).
From each sampled basket, one fish was taken and sacrificed for further analyses on whole body composition. Euthanasia was realized by anesthetic  an overdose of clove oil.

Before the sampling day, I made a challenge  with Felix the person who feed the fish  on the growth results of the different trial cages: We bet, only according to our eyes and the experience of running the trial for the last 4 weeks, which diet made the fish grow the  fastest. The reward in case of losing was a Swiss knife from me, and tilapia with banku from Felix.
Unfortunately I am not allowed to reveal the results here concerning this trial, but I can say that Felix had very good eye and I lost!!
Feeder Felix on work (credits: Francis Murray).

The accuracy of feeders in observing fish behavior during feeding and their growth is very important for the welfare of fish farm, since they have the crucial importance in up-growing the fish avoiding as much as possible the wasting of feed, and making it been eaten all and converted in flesh. 
Unfortunately nowadays many fish farms in Africa undervalue the key role of fish-feeders, and usually many un-trained or not careful people are employed, with the unhappy result in bad economic balances for feed wastes for overfeeding or careless, until the crash of the whole farm in a couple of years.

 So, because of excellent feeder’s  eye,  before leaving the tilapia farm I had to give him my Swiss knife (unfortunately hazards are  not my business!).
As the afternoon arrived I had to leave to reach Accra airport for check-in for my return flight, and I said goodbye to  all the supervisors, Emilie, Pierre, colleagues and sampling team.

Grown-up tilapia juveniles during sampling in counting baskets (credits: Pierre-Olivier Maquart).

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Day 43 and 44- Last feeding day, luggage preparation, fasting day pre-sampling.

Pierre and Emilie going to the cages (credits: Francis Murray).

This was the last day of feeding for our tilapias juveniles.
Emilie and Pierre went on cages while I ordered for the last time the data files and prepared my luggages. Then in the afternoon Emilie checked with supervisors the organization of next coming Monday for the last sampling day of this growth trial.
Then on Sunday, since the fish needed to fasting for Monday handling, Emilie and Pierre went around for visiting the places around the fish farm while I had some rest and check with my family for my return trip.

At home during packaging luggage (credits:Nicole Pelusio).
At Sunday evening, the general manager proposed as to join him for a relaxing dinner in a hotel at Atimpoku. Obviously my last Ghanaian dish was a nice roasted tilapia with banku. After some chatting we came back home getting ready for the last sampling.

Day 42- Last spectro analyses and Market in Juapong for African souvenirs.

Mathilda fabrics seller in her shop in Juapong market (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

African fabrics (credits Nicole Pelusio).
Emilie was looking after the cages within feeder Eric whilst I helped by Pierre analyzing last water samples with spectrophotometer.
Then in the evening I managed to go for my last shopping in Juapong market main day.
Usually in that village in each Wednesday and Saturday sellers from different villages come to sell every kind of items like food, shoes, clothes, fabrics, cosmetics, tools for cooking etcetera of every color, size and smell.

Nicolina (Mathilda's daughter) in fabrics shop (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

There I met a very nice fabrics seller called Mathilda who explained me several meanings of color and symbols on Ghanaian fabrics. After a satisfying last shopping in Juapong, I drunk the milk and ate the flesh of a fresh coconut on the road before taking a tro tro and motorbike for coming back home. 

Video on motorbike coming back home (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

Day 41- Emilie, Pierre and the wind.

On boat coming to shore (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

In the afternoon Emilie and the other University of Stirling phD student Pierre arrived to join me on the cages.
Finally they arrived and helped me and Eric to finish feeding and water monitoring since a strong wind storm was arriving: four people are better than two!
When we arrived to the shore, we went around for looking for some nice insects to taking some nice and colorful pictures before coming home.
At dinner, for celebrate their arrival I cooked some nice pasta with parmesan, while Emilie and Pierre took some biscuits and a nice bottle of French wine. Cheers!

Day 40- Fingerling transportation.

Fingerling transportation on boat. Supervisor Jemimah within the crew (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

What a great chance I had today: the supervisor Jemimah and the nursery crew had to transport some new fingerlings inside some cages very close to my experimental cages.
The crew let me join them on board for observing transport boat while they were finishing to put fingerlings in the cages.

Jemimah and Cherles preparing the tube for moving fingerlings into cages (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

After that I came back to the floating platform for ending the feeding sessions and data recording within Felix.

Day 39- Fry ponds and big hard sun.

Fry ponds (credits: Nicole Pelusio).

My supervisors were very kind to switch me for some hours, and as well the general manager to taking me to some nursery ponds.

In the shade for a while(credits: Nicole Pelusio).

The site was the much harsh, since there was almost no shade for getting some repair from the sunlight. 

Whilst visiting the earthen ponds I met a really nice feeder called Augustina who answered very kindly to my curiosities and allowed me to take some pictures to her during feeding session.

After a lot of sunlight I and general manager came back to nursery site for finishing the daily duties.

Feeder Augustina on pond during feeding session (credits: Nicole Pelusio).