Aquaculture for all

Aquaculture sector continually expanding

GUYANA - The aquaculture industry, which government is promoting, is expanding as several pioneers have begun placing their products on the local markets and at the same time experimenting at the export level.

Senior Fisheries Officer of the Aquaculture Training Centre Tejnarine Geer, recently highlighted this emerging sector as one that can play a crucial role in diversification of the local fisheries sector. He noted that Guyana is ideally suited for large-scale warm water aquaculture because of suitable water temperature to accommodate species such as pacu and tilapia.

Additionally, the geographical location allows easy and efficient access to the United States (US) market while the existing fish processing and feed production institutions are prepared to support aquaculture development. The transport and other infrastructure in place are also ideally positioned to support the delivery of aquaculture products to the market.

“We believe that as aquaculture develops, jobs in the processing, transport and fishing sectors can be safeguarded and expanded as aquaculture products fit smoothly into the existing fish and shrimp processing and export chain,” Geer said.

This will further result in generation of more employment at the farm level that will lead to improvement of the socio-economic status of rural communities.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 75 percent of the world’s fisheries stocks are either over exploited or fully-utilised while on the other hand, aquaculture is the fastest growing food production enterprise with more than eight percent growth per annum. Forty percent of the fish consumed today are farmed rather than captured, Geer said, adding that aquaculture is seen as the only reliable means to increase world fisheries supply.

Through the National Aquaculture Association of Guyana (NAAG), great strides have been made to develop the industry locally by providing technical and market information, feed and stock supplies and facilitating local and external investments.

Aquaculture has been recognised as a sector with tremendous growth potential and has been targeted for development under Government’s National Competitiveness Strategy (NCS). This resulted in the formation of NAAG and a plan that seeks to realise the establishment of 9, 000 hectares of ponds by 2015. These ponds should produce $63B in sales of which $56B will be export earnings and an estimated 3, 000 jobs would be created.

President Bharrat Jagdeo has restated the administration’s commitment to support emerging sectors, including aquaculture to enable them to become a driving force for economic growth. Additionally, this sector was identified as one of the key areas to be developed during a Presidential Summit on Private Sector Development held last May and several initiatives were pinpointed to boost its growth. Assistance is being provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Guyana Trade and Investment Support Services (GTIS).

The Jamaican Red tilapia, Nile tilapia, hassar and freshwater pacu are some of the aquaculture species that could be reared in Guyana. At present, efforts are being made to export tilapia to the United States of America, where there is a big market.

This year, focus will be placed on the construction of semi-intensive tilapia hatcheries and the creation of more public aquaculture propagation facilities. Other initiatives include securing resources to establish a large fingerling production facility and explore the possibility of converting the conservancies into massive aquaculture ponds.

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