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Fish Expert Helps Impoverished in Guatemala

by Ellen Hardy
06 October 2008, at 1:00am

GUATEMALA - A Maltese fish farming expert, touched by the struggles of impoverished Guatemalan locals, has helped design and build the community a fish farm which aims to produce 250 kg of indigenous Tilapia every week.

According to the Times of Malta, Prof. Agius has helped to set up similar farms across the world, but this is the first project to which he has committed his time and expertise on a voluntary basis.

The idea for the farm came about four years ago when Prof. Agius was working on developing a shrimp farm in nearby Ecuador. A friend informed him that an attempt by Fr Grech to encourage impoverished locals to grow tomatoes for export had run into difficulty due to tariffs and taxes.

Prof. Agius visited the area and discovered it had a suitable river that could sustain a fish farm, reports the Times of Malta. What is more, he was impressed by the dynamism of Fr Grech and the spirit of the local people, and so decided to help.

It was built using local builders and Maltese volunteers from the Mission Fund who spent five weeks there in the summer of 2007. The cost of the project is estimated at around €200,000, most of which came from Maltese donations.

The farm aims to produce 250 kg of indigenous Tilapia every week, which is a huge amount for the landlocked area where fish is a rare treat. The first 3,300 young fish were introduced last month and it is hoped that they will be ready for market in March or April.

Fr Grech will oversee the running of the project as a business, with a profit-related percentage of fish given away to needy locals as a donation. The farm will employ local staff and the idea is that any profit will be ploughed back into the project to increase production and employment opportunities.

Ellen Hardy