A sewing II y
A GINA Publication
-A growing industry
The Aqua-culture industry in Guyana is growing gradually in all parts
of the country. Farmers in Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice are invest-
ing in the new industry, which has improved significantly over the last few
Aqua-culture or inland fishing as it is commonly known is being pro-
moted by the Ministry of Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock to reduce
the dependency on Guyana's oceanic resources and also to provide em-
ployment. The Aqua-culture Industry is one of the fastest growing indus-
tries in the country.
There are approximately 3,000 acres of land under aqua-culture culti-
vation. Prior to 1992, there were 200 acres of land under aqua-culture
Over the last year, the Department ofFisheries harvested a large quantity
of red tilapia from the Freshwater Aqua-culture Demonstration Farm and
Training Centre at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara. It was noted that
three sets offish were harvested and sold.
About 600 ponds of red tilapia were harvested and sold from the fish
farm. In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA),
Fisheries Officer responsible for the farm, Mr. Tejnarine Geer explained
that the New Guyana Marketing Corporation (NGMC) is the agency that
sells the product whereby the general public can access it. "We have
thrice given them fish over the past year. Sales have been good because
the first time we gave them about 200 pounds of fish, which were sold out
in about 3 days. Two weeks ago, I dropped 161 pounds offish and that
also sold out in three to four days; also another set of over 200 pounds
were sent this week" said Mr. Geer.
Ministry of Fisheries, Other Crops and Livestock officials harvesting red
tilapia at Mon Repos farm.
Farmers who have red tilapia are being urged to make contact with the
NGMC because there is a great demand for the fish. It was noted that
there is a market for the fish and it should be maintained.
Mr. Geer explained that the final pond of red tilapia which was
used for feed trials were harvested. About four ponds of fish, which rep-
resented work concerning the two feeds were evaluated.
Evaluation was done on the floating pellet feed, which is produced by
the National Flour Mills of Trinidad and Tobago and the sinking pellet
produced by Guyana Stockfeeds Limited.
The Aqua-culture Demonstration Farm and Training Centre was com-
missioned in July 2001 by President Bharrat Jagdeo. The facility was
constructed by the Government of Guyana in collaboration with the Food
and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Canadian International De-
velopment Agency (CIDA), at a cost of approximately $36 M.
The facility was constructed as part of a unique partnership between
the Government, FAO and CIDA. It comprises of a laboratory, ten spawn-
ing ponds, inlets and outlets, supply and drainage canals, internal road-
ways, bridge and a live-in accommodation.
The facility since last year has five earthen ponds which are being used
to rear hassar and freshwater prawns. Another five earthen ponds will be
The fish farm was constructed to stimulate and promote aqua-culture;
create skilled manpower to support fish farming; practice adaptive re-
search in support of potential farmers, improve extension services and
provide fish seed.
The main objectives of the fish farm are to train farmers, so they can
practice scientific and sustainable aqua-culture; provide high quality fin-
gerlings and breed stock; enable farmers to attain high yields; conduct
performance trials and provide information collected to farmers.
It was noted that the facility is there to assist farmers. Research infor-
mation collected is available for interested persons. Farmers are advised
to consult with the demonstration farm before digging ponds to rear fish. A
simple study of water testing and other important aspects should be done
before any infrastructure is put in place. The information is available to
farmers at no cost.
Mr. Geer said that the functions of the facility are being executed each
year. He explained that training programmes are conducted, fingerlings
are produced, trials are done and the information collected are available
to persons who are interested in investing in the industry.
He explained that since the opening of the facility, about 30 or more
farmers purchased fingerlings. It was noted that so far for this year about
5,000 fingerlings were sold while last year about 7,000 were sold. Farm-
ers have been encouraged to establish their own breeding ponds, so that
they can supply themselves with fingerlings. It is cheaper for farmers to
create their own breeding ponds.
During 2002, a number of trials and training courses was conducted.
About 50 persons received training through five courses. Trials have been
completed with red tilapia and different kinds of feeds.
The training programmes attracted participants from Berbice, Essequibo
Highlighting some of the activities for last year, Mr. Geer said, "We
had five earthen ponds, which will be used for tilapia and hassar as well as
fresh water prawns. We have expanded our staffing whereby we now
have two fish station attendants. We have also done several of the pre-
liminary works to embark on a few more trials."
Revealing plans for this year, Geer said there would be two more trials
with red tilapia. He added that there are plans to conduct some trials with
hassar, but firstly they have to be bred. Plans are also in place to culture
freshwater prawns, which are being bred at present.
Tilapia produced at Mon Repos fish farm packed for market
He said, "Majority of the time this year will be spent on breeding prawns
because they are a bit complicated. We also plan some training courses
on the red tilapia and hopefully with freshwater prawns and hassar."
It was noted that many farmers now recognize that aqua-culture is a
lot more difficult than it seems as first. Mr. Geer said, "You can get good
harvest repeatedly, but it requires management and training and in addi-
tion it requires a certain level of commitment. You could make lots of
money from it, but it is farming and farming requires commitment, dedica-
tion and it needs you to take care of your stock."
Farmers are now cautiously investing in aqua-culture, as they only start
with two ponds. The Fisheries Department is trying to avoid a situation
whereby someone excavates a large portion of land and they are unable
to manage it. The Ministry of Fisheries is satisfied with the progress be-
cause aqua-culture takes many years to develop.
Geer said the industry has a far way to go, but there is more work that
needs to be done. He explained, "We have to work with different spe-
cies as well. Different species are suitable for different water conditions.
Tilapia can't grow in acidic water, but hassar could. We need to look at
different species in terms of their income-earning capacity. Hassar has
more value than tilapia and freshwater prawns are more valuable than
It was noted that a variety of options is being provided so that the best
one can be selected for both expected income and the environment. Plans
are in place to conduct hormonal sex reversal on tilapia during this year.
The reason for hormonal sex reversal is to ensure that there is no re-
production taking place in the production ponds. This will allow for a
better growth rate and in terms of tilapia males have a better growth rate
than females. One of the problems with tilapia is that if male and females
are reared in the same pond, they will start to reproduce and that leads to
overcrowding. If both males and females are reared in the same pond
there are problems also with the size of the fish.
Farmers are encouraged to invest in the industry because it is the way
forward. Aqua-culture encourages optimum use of resources in an envi-
ronmentally-sound manner and assists in reducing rural poverty. It can
promote income diversity and increase export earnings.
A private j oint venture aqua-culture farm was established at Hubu,
Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands) where freshwater
prawns are being cultured and exported to the United States ofAmerica.
Red tilapia harvesting at Mon Repos
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Published by the Government Information Agency (GINA)
Area'B' Homestretch Avenue
Durban Park Backlands, Georgetown.
Copyright C March 2003