Facilitate the development of the small-scale tilapia farming industry to meet the local market demand of Tilapia and supply other niche markets.
The Aquaculture Unit was started in 2008 to produce tilapia fingerlings in an effort to promote backyard fish farming in rural areas. It was a four man unit and had to carry out its tilapia production on a privately owned farm. The first tilapia produced were the Taiwan Red variety of the Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). The unit soon began to offer the public “all male” fingerlings. These fishes are mostly males. The reason we provide “all males” is to drastically reduce the unwanted reproduction of fingerlings in farmers’ ponds.
Tilapia ponds can get over populated as females and males begin to mate and reproduce continuously at 3 months of age. By 2011 the unit was also offering the Gray Chitralada variety of the Nile Tilapia. In 2014 the unit began operating from a government fish farm in Central Farm. Its staff has grown in number. The unit now offers extension services and training workshops to farmers as well as to supply them with fingerlings.
The main activities performed by the Aquaculture unit is as follows:
- Fingerling Production: The Aquaculture Unit operates the Tilapia Hatchery Centre. At the THC, we maintain several breeder ponds, where large male and female tilapias are reared. Tilapia fry are extracted from these ponds and placed in nursery for 6-8 weeks. The fish that immerge are called fingerlings and are sold to fish farmers from all six districts.
- Extension Services: The unit has three technical officers who travel around the country to provide recommendations on good fish farming practices to fish farmers. The team also visits sites where farmers have interest in building fish ponds so that the proper location of a pond can be assigned before the actual construction.
- Education/Training: The unit organizes two to three workshops every year for the benefit of farmers who have experience in fish farming and also other workshops for beginners. The unit also receives school children at the THC whenever the work schedule permits.
- Product Promotion: The Aqua Unit participates in public events such as the National Agriculture and Trade Show and World Food Day event which is organized by the Agriculture Department. In those events live tilapias are show case as well sold on market size.
- Research: has been carried out on the preparation of an alternative fish feed at the THC as a substitute for commercial fish feed. This alternative feed was prepared to replace the 32% Protein Content commercial feed. Tilapia growth was found to be comparable to that of fishes with commercial feed.
- Sale of Tilapia fingerings: Size 2-3 grams each with a price of 15 cents BZ. Fingerlings are pre-ordered and no delivery is included.
Plans are being made for research into the reproduction of Baysnook (Petenia splendida) in aquaculture.