Tilapia for U.S. market

Guyana Chronicle
December 18, 2006

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LOCAL aquaculture farms, such as Von Better Aquaculture Enterprise and East Coast Aquaculture, have been ramping up operations and production facilities as they work towards next yearís target of having tilapia ready for export to the United States.

Thatís the word from the National Aquaculture Association of Guyana (NAAG) which is being supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Guyana Trade and Investment Support (GTIS).

In a press release, the association said its overall objective is to increase tilapia production to begin exporting in the first half of 2007.

A feasibility and marketing study were recently completed, it said, showing that Guyana has good potential for large-scale, profitable, export-oriented aquaculture.

The association said it is building on the positive results of the study (in addition to the knowledge that imports of tilapia to the North American market have increased ten-fold over the last ten years, making tilapia the sixth highest consumed aquatic product in the United States) as they lay the foundation for their goal of making aquaculture the leading economic sector in Guyana by 2015.

According to the association, its representatives had plenty of recent accomplishments to report when members of the National Competitiveness action teams met last week to discuss their successes and future plans.

NAAG said it was happy to announce that membership within the association has been growing steadily since its inception.

The association is open to all persons, organisations, and entities that have an interest in aquaculture and its development, such as processors, producers, financiers, input suppliers, and transporters.

Members to date include Von Better Aquaculture Enterprise; East Coast Aquaculture; Fort Island Aquaculture; Maharaja Oil Mill; the Institute of Private Enterprise Development, and several other farmers.

BEV Enterprises, DIDCO Feeds, and PBS Enterprise are also considering becoming NAAG members.

The association said membership is beneficial on many levels as those who join gain access to ongoing training programmes, technical and marketing information, drafts of a completed feasibility study, and discounts on locally produced tilapia feed.

A reminder was given that NAAG meets weekly at the offices of the USAID/GTIS and new members are always encouraged to join.

NAAG also said that with assistance provided by the Government of Guyana and USAID/GTIS, they hold ongoing training programmes that provide participants with a basic foundation of aquaculture knowledge.

GTIS said the first programme was completed last month and the next session is scheduled for January 13-14, 2007 at Seawell, Corentyne.

Technical staffers from the Ministry of Agricultureís Mon Repos Aquaculture Station also provide technical support and outreach to farmers and other NAAG members.

Other topics of interest covered by NAAG included work on initiatives to educate the Guyanese public on aquaculture, transportation logistics, commercial production of tilapia for export, and production of locally made fish feed.

NAAG also announced that plans are being finalised with the Government of Guyana and USAID/GTIS for the construction of a tilapia hatchery at the Mon Repos Aquaculture Station, East Coast Demerara.

The project is set to begin early next year.

On the front of promoting NAAG, and to better educate the public on their efforts, association members said that with assistance provided by the investment agency GO-Invest, the NAAG website www.aquaculture.org.gy will be functioning next month.