3.1 Extension services in the region
3.2 Training of extension agents
3.3 Seed production facilities in the region
3.4 Manufacturers of feed and fertilizers in the region
3.5 Manufacturers of equipment
3.6 Other services for the industry
3.7 Local credit programmes
3.8 Trade publications for producers
3.9 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector
Extension services for aquaculture (as well as fisheries) are limited throughout the Caribbean region. There are few services available in the Greater Antilles and French Antilles, and these have been introduced only recently.
In Jamaica the Inland Fisheries Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture is the agency responsible for providing extension services to fish farmers throughout the island. The programme was initiated concurrently with the USAID Fish Production System Development Project. Extension staff include the majority of technical personnel assigned to the Unit, and there is an Extension Branch Chief, two Regional Extension Officers, several Extension Officers, and two pond construction specialists.
Despite the fact that a significant amount of effort was expended to provide extension services and training to subsistence and small-scale farmers, these services gradually drifted toward the larger corporate farmers. This was probably due to Government's emphasis on increasing production and the pressure for services from the corporate farmers, and possibly the extension personnel's involuntary attraction to larger and more ambitious projects.
In Jamaica representatives of feed manufacturing companies, in addition to their responsibilities for sales, are also aquaculture extension officers with a genuine interest in development of the industry. They act as professional agents by assisting farmers with nutrition and feeding problems, and in other ways, which is particularly important at a time when the Government's extension service is confronting serious weaknesses.
In Cuba the National Aquaculture Enterprise is responsible within its internal organization for its own extension services. Qualified fishermen and aquaculture workers receive short courses and on-the-job training annually from mid-level technicians and professionals who, in turn, receive periodic training at their corresponding level.
In Haiti extension for rural and subsistence fish farming is an important component of the UNDP/FAO aquaculture project under implementation. Its orientation is gradually being shifted toward inland fishermen in accordance with the priority now being given to culture-based fisheries. Training of extension personnel is also envisaged in the second phase of the project.
In the Dominican Republic in 1984 the National Agro-aquaculture Programme initiated an extension service which became vital for the expansion of the sector. Presently extension for subsistence farmers is provided by the Social Service of the Dominican Church, and for commercial farmers by a private consulting company.
In the French Antilles extension services are an integral part of the organization of the producers' cooperatives, assisted by expert staff of the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) from France.
Due to the undeveloped state of aquaculture, and the fact that private ventures do not depend on them, the scope of extension services in the small island states, for example, the Bahamas, Barbados, and St. Christopher and Nevis, is limited.
In Trinidad and Tobago an extension programme was developed which provides services for project feasibility, site evaluation, pond construction, and harvesting and marketing. In response to numerous requests made to the Farmers' Training Unit, a training course was organized in 1984 by the Aquaculture Sub-Unit of the Fisheries Division in collaboration with the Institute of Marine Affairs, the Agricultural Engineering Division of the Ministry, and FAO. This course is now offered annually (see 3.2). The Aquaculture Sub-Unit also has, as an ongoing feature, one-day seminars. Specific targets for the country, such as the numbers of farmers to be trained, the number of trained extension agents, and projected growth of the sector, remain to be identified.
Throughout the region US Peace Corps Volunteers are involved in aquaculture extension in coordination with projects supported by USAID.
Training in extension methodology in the countries of the region is not a formal or widespread practice, mostly because governments do not always recognize that an extension service represents an important mechanism whereby innovations or new systems can be introduced at the national or regional level. Most extension agents, however, have some formal technical schooling in fisheries and/or aquaculture, as well as some practical experience acquired in fish culture stations.
As government salaries are usually low, candidates for training and employment as extension workers are not highly motivated individuals. This fact not only reduces the efficiency of training courses, but also reflects in the efficiency and effectiveness of personnel employed once training is terminated. It is expected that this situation will change as the aquaculture sector develops within each country. Ideally, government staff should be given the opportunity to receive a background education in aquaculture as a start to any strategy for national sectoral development.
Most countries generally lack personnel properly trained in extension methods. There are few training institutions which offer specialized courses on extension or which provide follow-up and/or refresher/recycling courses. None the less, qualified personnel for the dissemination and extension of aquaculture are gradually becoming available, partly as a result of the implementation of external technical assistance projects in the sub-sector (see 3.9). Unfortunately, not all national development plans have recognized the importance of creating a well-structured extension service as a branch of the government institution responsible for administration of the sector. The feedback derived from this extension service would also help to improve the work of research and training, and address the needs of producers in a more coherent manner in planning and overall development.
Extension training in Cuba is a function of the National Aquaculture Enterprise. As all aquaculture activities are integrated into this single entity, research and development establish close links between extension and production due to their direct and indirect involvement in almost all aspects of the sector. This interaction contributes to a fast and thorough extension of new techniques and practices which are developed, which make a large extension service unnecessary.
In Jamaica training on extension methodology is only partially covered in the various general aquaculture courses offered by the University of the West Indies, the Jamaica College of Agriculture, and informally at the Inland Fisheries Unit. The Ministry of Agriculture has a training division for extension but it has not established a link with the Inland Fisheries Unit to assist in the creation of an efficient extension training system like it has for agriculture.
Trinidad and Tobago holds an annual 5-day course for extension agents organized by the Aquaculture Unit of the Fisheries Division in collaboration with the Institute of Marine Affairs, FAO, and the Agricultural Engineering Division of the Ministry. In the French Antilles special training courses are organized in Martinique by the Aquaculture Development Association.
The low production of juveniles of both freshwater and marine organisms remains one of the major bottlenecks for the growth of aquaculture in most countries of the Caribbean. Therefore modern hatchery technology for the large number and variety of fish and crustaceans, presently being cultured has had to be imported and/or adapted to local conditions.
Freshwater fish hatcheries, mostly still operating on a pilot scale in the region, are owned and operated by the public sector. Many are operated in conjunction with technical assistance projects promoting fish farming for increased food production or rural development. Extension in aquaculture, as practised in the region, is based mainly on propagation of seed for these producers. Therefore, most institutions which include extension among their tasks, concentrate also on hatchery technologies. Consequently, government hatcheries, in many cases, have become focal points for their extension programmes. This has also been the strategy of technical assistance projects which are attempting to introduce aquaculture into the region.
The development of private hatcheries is critical to the region's shrimp culture industry, as the native species of shrimp are not the most suitable species for culture. For example, Antigua Shrimp Ltd., (now East Caribbean Maricultures Ltd.), although inactive at present, is being transformed into a shrimp hatchery to supply PLs for grow-out in a farm in Haiti.
The Bahamas Marine Farms Ltd. is a commercial facility for intensive production of tilapia. Seed production techniques used in the hatchery are based on the incubation of eggs stripped from broodstock. The fry are then sex-reversed by hormone treatment. Ozone is used for aerating the water. The hatchery has the capacity to supply about 1 million fingerlings for the annual production of 160 t of fish. No commercial sale of fry is contemplated. The Bahamas Mariculture Research Institute has its own hatchery for the production of tilapia fingerlings used for grow-out in sea cages in the canals of Freeport, Grand Bahama. The Caribbean Marine Research Centre at Lee Stocking Island has a hatchery with a capacity of 20 000 fingerlings of tilapia per week which are grown in seawater ponds.
In Barbados tilapia is produced at a subsistence level only, as there are no state-operated or commercial hatcheries.
In the Cayman Islands the Cayman Turtle Farm was engaged in turtle culture until 1984. Turtle eggs were incubated under controlled conditions until hatching. The availability of eggs was not a constraint for the production of the farm.
Inland aquaculture in Cuba is based on the production of fingerlings of tilapia and carps for restocking dams and reservoirs. The National Aquaculture Enterprise operates twelve hatcheries spread throughout the country. In 1987 total production of fingerlings was 17.5 million tilapia, and 8.9 million cyprinids. These hatcheries are operated by biologists and technicians trained in fish reproduction and hatchery technology. Tilapia breeders spawn in earthen ponds, and fingerlings are reared until they reach a size of 10 g when they are ready for stocking. Propagation of cyprinid fingerlings is carried out by induced spawning.
In 1987 the first shrimp hatchery operated in the region, and two more are under construction. One is being built by France-Aquaculture in Cuba as part of a UNDP/FAO project.
The Dominican Republic has 16 hatcheries for freshwater prawns and 3 for marine shrimp. Isabel Aquacultura at its Montecristi facility produces Penaeus monodon and P. schmitti, and Cultura Mar Caribe produces P. vannamei and P. stylirostris, mostly for export. Camardom has a capacity to produce one million PLs of Macrobrachium rosenbergii per month. The country is probably the leader in crustacean culture in the Caribbean region.
In Guadeloupe a pilot hatchery was built with assistance from France-Aquaculture. A larger unit, called SICA Aquaculture, was completed in 1985, with an annual capacity of 15 million PLs of M. rosenbergii. Part of the production is intended for export to other Caribbean countries. Two smaller hatcheries have been built since then. SICA anticipates that prawn farmers will eventually expand into marine shrimp, and plans to service that market as well.
In Haiti a small commercial prawn hatchery is under operation adjacent to a tilapia-prawn polyculture farm. Its results have attracted attention of other local potential investors. Several foreign companies are considering setting up shrimp farms and hatcheries on the North Eastern coast at Grande Saline. A state-operated experimental station at Damien is presently producing tilapia fingerlings for distribution to subsistence farmers, and a larger hatchery to produce seed for stocking inland lakes and reservoirs is envisaged under the second phase of the UNDP/FAO project.
Seed production facilities in Jamaica are mainly concentrated in the hands of the private sector. Tilapia propagation practices presently used incorporate reproduction, breeding, and nursery stages as an integral part of production, and most commercial farmers are self-reliant. However, the small-scale and subsistence farmers cannot afford to spare scarce surface area for breeding ponds, thus sacrificing production of food fish. The divestment and closure of state-operated hatcheries adversely affected the industry, though at the same time created an opportunity for private sector involvement in the commercial production of fingerlings. Several farms are already supplying all-male fingerlings. Freshwater prawn farming, on the other hand, is not competitive and presently all prawn hatcheries have ceased to operate.
The Martinique Regional Council began a freshwater prawn project in 1976 and later received assistance from IFREMER. The hatchery is presently operated by a cooperative and produces about 9 million PLs annually. This supplies more than 40 ha of production ponds from which 50 t of prawns are harvested annually.
In St Christopher and Nevis the Leeward Islands Shrimp Co. has a hatchery for the production of P. vannamei PLs. As its production exceeds internal demand, the company exports PLs to other countries of the region.
In St. Lucia the Government manages a small fish culture unit at the Union Agricultural Experiment Station to supply fingerlings to subsistence farmers. Further assistance is being provided by ECLAC to upgrade the facilities and services provided. A hatchery for the production of prawns is currently under construction with the assistance of Taiwan PC.
St. Vincent is also assisted by Taiwan PC in the construction of a prawn hatchery which will supply PLs to an experimental farm.
In Trinidad and Tobago the Government owns and operates the Bamboo Grove Fish Farm which maintains broodstock and supplies fingerlings of tilapia and cascadura (Hoplosternum littorale). A number of experimental projects have small production hatcheries for prawn, shrimp, and fish.
In Turks and Caicos the Trade Winds Industries, Inc. constructed and started operating the first commercial queen conch hatchery. The company exports part of its production to Haiti and Martinique.
In the Dominican Republic the quality of available feeds has not been reliable. One shrimp producer is building a feed factory to meet his own needs, and the surplus will be sold locally and regionally. Isabel Aquacultura is importing feed from Taiwan PC.
Although until now its demand for formulated feeds has been minimal Cuba is planning to manufacture them. The new Programme for the Development of Shrimp Culture contemplates investment in feed manufacturing plants.
Jamaica, like most other countries of the region, is not self-sufficient in the production of feeds and fertilizers. All grain crops used as ingredients are imported. Two major animal feed manufacturers, Master Blend and Jamaica Feeds (a subsidiary of Ralston Purina Inc., of USA), and a third small company called Jet Pet, produce fish feeds. Each compete on different economic and commercial grounds and on different scales of operation, catering for specific segments of the aquaculture industry. This competition has spurred technical improvements in diet formulation. In 1986, about 3 000 t of fish feed were consumed by the industry, equivalent to about 1.7% of the total animal feed produced in the country. This proportion is expected to increase to about 5% by 1990. Although availability may not become a constraint for future growth, price variations will affect the operational economics of the farms and will be reflected in the final price of the product. Feed costs for tilapia amount to approximately 50% of total production costs.
In most of the Lesser Antilles and in Haiti there are private or cooperative animal feed factories but to-date none of them has yet produced fish feeds. A notable exception is the French Antilles where specially formulated diets are produced for their prawn culture industry.
It is estimated that fertilizers required for aquaculture amount to less than 1% of the total used by the agricultural sector. Because the general policy in most countries is to modernize aquaculture and increase production and productivity through the provision of infrastructure and support services, it is not anticipated that fertilizers will become a scarce commodity for aquaculture development. On the other hand, the use of organic fertilizers (manures and other agricultural wastes) is being encouraged through the promotion of aquaculture integrated with agriculture practices of animal and crop husbandry.
Finally, it should be added that fish feeds, and to a lesser extent shrimp feeds, have a proportionately smaller impact on foreign currency expenditure than other formulated animal feeds. Although some of the ingredients used in manufacturing fish feeds are imported, their proportion has decreased over the years with the increase in use of local by-products.
Equipment for construction has been in ever increasing demand as pond farming practices have developed in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. Installations for pond-based aquaculture typically include ponds, dams, and dikes, water supply and drainage canals or pipes, monks and pipe sluices, spillways and other fish control structures, such as screens, and in many cases complete pumping stations. Standard equipment and materials used in the construction industry, such as bulldozers, pay loaders, excavators, graders, scrapers and dredgers, are used for most installations. Depending on comparative costs, this equipment may either be hired or acquired locally.
Non-specialized standard materials, such as pipes and fittings, valves, pumps and other hydraulic equipment, are manufactured in the larger countries of the region. The smaller countries, however, have to import these items at considerable expense.
Ordinary equipment and materials, such as mechanical pumps, generators, netting, containers, and floats, which are also used for other purposes or in other industries, like agriculture and irrigation, and fishing, are also generally available within the region. However, specialized equipment normally used in more intensive aquaculture facilities, such as floating cages, tanks, raceways and flow-through systems, water-recirculating systems, and in hatcheries and laboratories, is not manufactured within the region and has to be imported from North America, Europe, or the Far East. This equipment may also include aerators, blowers, small pumps, filters, sterilizers, mechanical feeders and harvesters, graders, incubators, tanks, and most of the equipment used for the manufacture of formulated feeds.
The aquaculture sector of the region also relies heavily on the importation of special scientific equipment, laboratory instruments and chemicals used in hatcheries and in laboratories, such as microscopes, water quality test kits, autoanalyzers, salinometers, oxygen and pH meters, and spectrophotometers, as well as chemical substances, disinfectants, veterinary medicines, and hormones.
There are a number of aquaculture consulting companies in the region which provide services for feasibility studies, or advise on site selection and facility design. Such companies exist in the US Virgin Islands, French Antilles, Dominican Republic, and also Puerto Rico. Some of these companies are subsidiaries of USA or European companies.
There are many architect and engineering consulting companies in the islands which also provide design and construction management services, and water quality analysts who provide services for aquaculture. However, other vital services for the industry, such as marketing, and disease prevention and control, are less adequately covered. Consultants for disease diagnosis are available from Jamaica, at the University of the West Indies, Cuba, through Empresa Nacional de Acuicultura, and in Martinique, through IFREMER.
Non-technical subject matters of aquaculture, such as extension methodology, sector planning, farm management, project formulation and evaluation, marketing, and legislation, are not included in courses offered by universities. This is reflected by the lack of local services and experts in all these areas important for the development of the sector. These more specialized services are supplied by foreign experts from North America, Europe, or the Near and Far East.
Funds for agriculture and rural development, which include a line of credit, have been made available by organizations such as IDB, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), EEC/EDF, CARICOM, OAS, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
In the case of major development loans from the international banks, some projects have included a component of technical assistance for aquaculture development. This has been in the form of capital grants to national financial institutions for lines of credit, or through national projects themselves which manage a credit component. For example, the IDB loan for Integrated Rural Development in the Dominican Republic had a component of US$ 280 000 for promotion and credit programmes.
IFAD has offered long-term concessionary loans for development in association with other assistance to Dominica and Dominican Republic.
In Jamaica the Agricultural Credit Bank has a major role in economic development and on-lends funds through participating intermediaries to the agricultural sector. In the case of aquaculture, these intermediaries are commercial banks, merchant banks, and the People's Cooperative Banks. Disbursement of funds for aquaculture through the latter, such as cooperatives whose membership consists of community residents, has mainly benefited small-scale individual farmers. The loans also provide credit in kind, such as fertilizer, feed, and fish handling equipment. However, this credit programme is not suited to corporate investment and therefore has had limited success in expanding this segment of the sector. For corporate investors, the National Commercial Bank is virtually the sole lender of Agricultural Credit Bank funds. The National Commercial Bank has an aquaculture loan officer in charge of requests for the sector. Loans have a preferential interest rate set at 15% per annum, a pay-back period of between 5 and 10 years depending on the magnitude of the loan, and an equity collateral requirement of 20%. This compares with non-preferential commercial loans with 25-28% interest rates.
Throughout the region it appears that adequate credit has been available for potential investors in the aquaculture industry. However, some issues remain to be solved, such as the lack of financial experts trained in aquaculture among staff of lending agencies, delays in loan approvals and disbursements which deter potential investors, low credit ceilings in relation to the high capital requirements, land tenure and/or ownership as collateral for eligibility (especially in the case of the small-scale farmers), and delinquency in loan repayments. Although most agricultural banks in the region have credit facilities for farmers in general, their minimum loans are either too high for small-scale and subsistence farmers, or they are unable to meet normal collateral requirements.
Corporate investors and large-scale operators, on the other hand, take advantage of concessionary loans. They also capitalize on government subsidies to both aquaculture and fisheries sectors, and obtain equipment and raw materials, feeds, banking services, tax deductions, and insurance.
There are few specific trade publications produced in the region for individuals and the industry in general. As the sector expands it is anticipated that more trade publications will appear.
In Cuba the "Boletin Técnico de Acuicultura" is a review of technical advances, mainly achieved by the National Aquaculture Enterprise. "Mar y Pesca" is a trade journal for the fisheries sector which contains a number of articles on national and international aquaculture developments.
In Jamaica the "Jamaican Fish Farmer" is a publication which contains both technical and commercial information on the state of aquaculture in the country. "Feed Time" is a two-monthly newspaper supplement published by Master Blend Feeds Ltd., with news on livestock feed management and regular entries on the latest aquaculture developments.
More regional and scientific in nature are the newsletters of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Acuicultura (ALA), to which both Cuba and Dominican Republic belong, and "Revista Latinoamericana de Acuicultura", published by OLDEPESCA. "Aquarius" is an information bulletin on the activities of OLDEPESCA to which the Dominican Republic is affiliated. The Aquaculture Technical Cooperation Network of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean publishes a Newsletter informing its member countries on the achievements of its activities as well as more general information on FAO's regional and national projects.
The region has immediate access to a large range of North American and European publications for the trade through individual subscription. These include such publications as "Aquaculture Magazine" and its annual Buyer's Guide, "World Shrimp Farming", a two-monthly report covering shrimp and prawn farming, "Mollusk Farming, USA", for farming of clams, abalone, scallops, mussels and oysters, the "Water Fanning Journal", and "Salmon Farming", all published in the USA. From Canada there is the "Aquaculture Association of Canada Bulletin", a quarterly with heavy emphasis on the science of salmon farming, and "Canadian Aquaculture", a two-monthly trade journal with extensive coverage of marine culture. From UK there is "Fish Farming International" and "Fish Farmer", and from Belgium "The Artemia Reference Center Newsletter" containing news and abstracts of research conducted on Artemia and its use in aquaculture. Finally the World Aquaculture Society (WAS) publishes "World Aquaculture", its quarterly magazine.
Technical assistance for local infrastructure has played an important role in the development of the sector in the Caribbean.
OAS provided technical assistance to Dominica for training and the purchase of equipment as part of a project for construction of a small demonstration farm to culture freshwater prawns, funded by EDF.
The Dominican Republic received over US$ 1 million for both technical and capital assistance, provided mainly by USAID, Taiwan PC, and the IDB. The main beneficiaries were the Department of Fishery Resources and other research and NGOs involved in the sector.
The Government of Jamaica has been the recipient of technical assistance from USAID for development of inland aquaculture. Total financial obligations for the five year project were approximately US$ 9 million. The assistance included support for an extension service and technical training service, together with capital assistance for expansion of research facilities and construction of two fish hatcheries.
UNDP, together with FAO, have provided considerable technical assistance through regional and national projects, mostly for technical training in the operation of government-owned hatcheries and fish culture stations. In Haiti assistance focused on extension services to promote subsistence aquaculture, and recently on culture-based fisheries in inland waters. In Cuba assistance has been toward development of an intensive shrimp farming industry.
Technical assistance provided by Taiwan PC has had a considerable influence on the development of prawn culture in the region, while that of IDRC has been oriented toward developing an artisanal industry for sea moss production in Eastern Caribbean countries.