The Government of Cuba, assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are engaged in project TCP/CUB/8821, Alimentacion de Peces por Metodos Alternativos no Convencionales.
As part of the projects operations, FAO assigned Dr Albert G.J. Tacon (Fishery Resources Officer, Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service) as consultant to undertake the first technical assistance mission of the project from 28 April to 12 May 1998 with the following terms of reference:
En colaboracion con el equipo de expertos y el consultor nacional trabajara en:
|La Habana, Cuba||28.4.98||11.4.98|
Mr Sergio Jose Toledo Perez (Jefe Proyecto de Nutricion, Centro de Preparation Acuicola Mamposton, Ministerio de la Industria Pesquera - MIP) was nominated by the Government of Cuba as the National Project Director (NPD) of the Project and acted as my counterpart throughout the consultancy. However, at the time of this mission no other government counterpart staff had so far been assigned to the Project. In view of this, and the need to harness and make best use of the available human resources in Cuba already working in the area of fish nutrition and feed development (as recommended in the Terms of Reference of this Mission, namely ‘estableciemiento/reforzamiento de el equipo humano que ya esta trabajando en el tema’), it is strongly recommended that the Government nominate the following persons to assist the Project (in addition to the NPD and Mamposton technical support staff) so as to achieve and realise its numerous objectives :
In addition to the above counterpart staff, it is also strongly recommended that the Project staff maintain close collaborative ties with other institutions engaged in related activities which could be of benefit to the Project, such as the Instituto de Ciencias Animal (ICA; located 7km from Mamposton, related/collaborative activities including - farm animal nutrition, feed manufacture, feed analysis, composting, utilization/processing of fishery/animal by-products), the Centro Nacional para la Produccion de Animales de Laboratorio (CENPALAB; located 18km from La Habana, related/collaborative activities including - finfish and crustacean compound feed manufacture, feed analysis, and finfish aquaculture production), and the Instituto de Investigaciones Procinas (IIP; related/collaborative activities including pig-finfish farming systems, pond fertilisation, cultivation and use of aquatic macrophytes, processing of pig offal etc.). It also follows from the above, that the Project should also try and keep abreast of the aquaculture nutrition and feed related activities of other Ministries within Cuba engaged in aquaculture production and/or research, such as the Ministerio de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (MINFAR), the Ministerio del Interior (MININT), the Instituto Nacional de la Reserva (INRE), the Ministerio de la Agricultura (MINAGRI), and the Ministerio de Ciencias, Tecnologia y Media Ambiente (MINCITMA).
One of the main constraints to the continued growth and/or sustainable intensification of finfish aquaculture production in Cuba is the local availability and cost of nutrient inputs, either in the form of fertilizers, supplementary feeds, complete feeds, or imported feed ingredients and compounded aquafeeds. It follows therefore that government planners, researchers or farmers be made aware of the national feed and fertilizer resources available to them and when, who is currently using these resources and how, the nutrient composition and cost of these resources at source and with transportation, the status of the existing animal and fish feed manufacturing industry and its regulations, and how they can obtain and best utilize these available feed and fertilizer resources either on-farm or within industrially compounded aquafeeds. Such an approach is essential if farmers and feed manufacturers within Cuba are to maximize the use of locally available nutrient resources, and so reducing their dependence upon imported nutrient inputs, and thereby keeping costs to a minimum, and more importantly within the economic grasp of farmers and feed manufacturers.
Guidelines for undertaking a national agricultural feed survey were first presented by the consultant to Ms Maria Cristina Garcia Capote and Mr Sergio Jose Toledo Perez in November 1996 during the FAO Regional Expert Consultation on Nutrition and Health Management held at the Neptuno Hotel in La Habana from 4 to 8 November 1996 (Tacon, Maciocci and Vinatea, 1987; COPESCAL, 1997). Due to the hard work and endeavour of Ms Capote and Mr Toledo P. approximately 95% of the information required for the compilation of the aquaculture feed and fertilizer resource atlas of Cuba has already been collected. It is anticipated, that the text version of the atlas will be completed by the end of June 1998. In addition, and to facilitate the regular updating of the information contained in the atlas, a suggested database structure in Microsoft Access format was given to the Project (and also installed in the FAO library computer in La Habana; for details see Appendix 1) to serve as a guide (subject to modification by the Project staff) for the input of the data contained within the atlas; the latter serving as an Aquaculture Feed and Fertilizer Resources Database for use by the Project, MIP, and other interested parties, for the benefit of the aquaculture sector in Cuba. In this context it is strongly recommended (as laid down in the Project Document) that a computer/database specialist assist the Project so as to modify and/or translate the suggested database structure/field names from English into Spanish and then to enter the atlas data collected. Mr Alfredo de la Cruz (Investigador Titular, Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de La Habana) was shown the above database and indicated to the NPD and the consultant that he would be willing to assist the project with this task if so asked and instructed by MIP.
Since food and feeding usually represents the largest operating cost item of most semi-intensive and intensive fish farming operations in Cuba (Toledo, Tacon & Garcia Capote, 1997) it follows therefore that particular attention must be focused on the development of feeding and fertilization strategies aimed at reducing feed/fertilizer costs and improving on-farm feed/fertilization management techniques. A logical step toward meeting this goal is therefore for the Project to make a detailed appraisal of the fertilizer/feeding strategies employed by farmers/producers within the country. Only by conducting such a survey can the fertilizer/feeding bottlenecks and constraints be identified; these in turn serving as the subject of future experimental, pilot, and on-farm feeding trials conducted by the Project.
Guidelines for undertaking a nation-wide survey of farm feeding profiles was presented by the consultant in the form of a questionnaire (for details see Appendix 2). Although it is recognised that the questionnaire may have to be modified according to local conditions, it is recommended that this survey be conducted on all finfish production centres/farms in the country, including inland water bodies/reservoirs receiving fertilizer inputs; the latter should not be exclusively restricted to MIP, but should also include all other Institutions/Ministries engaged in aquaculture production. As with the Atlas, and to facilitate the regular updating of the farm feeding profiles, it is recommended that the questionnaire also be converted for use as a database in Microsoft Access format; the latter serving as a new ‘Directory’ within the Aquaculture Feed and Fertilizer Resources Database for the benefit of the aquaculture sector in Cuba.