Aquaculture in Paraguay is in an incipient stage of development, with initiatives by the public and private sectors. At present, surface area under culture is estimated at 946.65 ha with a production of 2 099.95 tonnes/year; some 1 200 producers are active.
It is estimated that only about 10 percent of existing natural resources are being exploited, despite the unsatisfied demand of the internal and external markets.
Projects are underway for the production fish in floating cages, tanks, net enclosures and restocking programmes in inland waters with native species.
Production centres are geographically distributed mainly in the following Departments: Central, Paraguari, Itapua, Alto Parana, Canindeyu and San Pedro.
Eighty-five percent of total aquaculture production is produced under extensive systems and 15 percent under semi-intensive systems; there is no intensive aquaculture.
The main cultivated species are Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), common carp, pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus), boga (Leporinus spp), and giant tiger prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii).
In Ita, in the Central Department, a private enterprise produces 5 tonnes/year of the giant tiger prawn under semi-intensive conditions, all of it for internal consumption; in its second phase, production will reach 19 tonnes/year and will be exported to external markets.
Institutions providing extension services to this sector are the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences (FCV/UNA), whose fourth grade syllabus includes Fisheries Biology and Pathology, while Aquaculture is taught in the fifth grade of the Animal Production degree. This Faculty also offers training courses for producers. Applied research subjects include breeding and reproduction, fingerling raising, fish feed formulation, and extension services to rural areas.
A feed manufacturing company produces artificial diets for fish in their different life-cycle stages.
State financial institutions, such as the Promotion National Bank, the Peasant Development Fund and the Agricultural Habilitation Credit offer lines of credit for aquaculture.
Continental aquaculture (fresh water). The Republic of Paraguay is a mediterranean country without marine coastline; a mid-river plain country abundantly irrigated by large rivers from 250 to 800 km in length, with tributaries and lakes, reservoirs and estuaries which total more than 5.000 km² of water surface. The country lies in the tropical and sub-tropical region.
Development of aquaculture had its beginnings in the year 1960, supported by a U.S. organization named “World Neighbours”, whose objectives are to increase the intake of animal protein (fish) by low income peasants in rural zones. One hundred to 360 m² ponds were built in several regions in the country.
Culture practices. The most prevalent culture practice is the extensive system which produces 85 percent of total aquaculture output, while semi-intensive systems only produce 15 percent. Cultured species are the following: tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus), boga (Leporinus spp), streaked prochilodus (Prochilodus lineatus), and the giant tiger prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) which is also being cultured semi-intensively.
Development of semi-intensive aquaculture started with a project sponsored by TILAPIA FOOD, a Belgian organisation, and implemented by the Veterinary Sciences Faculty, (FCV/UNA) and a fish farming cooperative in the Department of Paraguari whose 70 members shared 8 ha of ponds. In the same Department, the Aida I fish farm has over 30 ha of ponds and plans to expand to 300 ha to increase its exporting capability.
Aquaculture production is estimated at 2 099.95 tonnes/year, with a value of US$2.1 million and an average yield of 8 000 kg/ha. Some farms are starting to utilise artificial diets as a means of increasing their productivity.
Professionals: 20 University level graduates.
Technicians: 35 Secondary level graduates.
Of the estimated 1 200 owners of farms, 5 percent are university level graduates and 5 percent are secondary level graduates. Regarding rural farmers, approximately 90 percent have barely completed elementary school and only 5 percent have reached either secondary school or university.
Professionals working in aquaculture have graduated from the one of the faculties of the National University of Asunción: Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences, Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences, Faculty of Agronomic Engineering (majors in Ecology; Human Science; Animal Production; Forestry; Agronomy).
Within the group of farm owners, there are professionals in the following disciplines: Medical Physician, Agronomic Engineerring, Bachelor Degree en Biology.
Collateral relations with the sector: 90 percent of all aquaculture producers are from peasant origin, i.e. primary sector producers with basic elementary education.
Since the aquaculture began to develop towards 1960, and throughout its expansion, productivity has evolved with the introduction of new technologies such as pond construction, use of formulated feeds, and selection of cultured species.
Nevertheless extensive aquaculture remains as the most prevalent culture practice, generating 85 percent of the total output, while only 15 percent is produced under semi-intensive systems. Total national production has increased significantly as indicated in the following table.
1977: 22 tonnes/year
1988: 54 tonnes/year
2000: 1 500 tonnes/year
2004: 2 099.95 tonnes/year.
In the period between 1990 and 2004, the construction of facilities by commercial aquaculture producers was initiated. Some intensive fish culture projects were implemented, using facilities such as floating cages, tanks, and net enclosures. Thereafter the cultivation of the giant prawn was also launched, continuing with the cultivation of native fish species. These production systems have arisen the interest of the public and private sectors.
Aquaculture products started to impact the internal market; supermarkets now sell not only fresh but processed and packaged aquaculture products as well; fresh iced-products are also to be found at agro shopping fairs. External markets (Brazil, the U.S. etc.) have also started to demand Paraguayan aquaculture products.
The following table presents the geographical distribution and characteristics of the culture systems found in Paraguay:
Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (2005)
The composition of aquaculture production by species is: Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) 80 percent, common carp (Cyprinus carpio), pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus) 18 percent, streaked prochilod (Prochilodus scrofa), boga or branded leporinus (Leporinus spp), giant tiger prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) 2 percent.
Introduction of Nile tilapia (O. niloticus) into the country dates back to 1960 and was imported from Ivory Coast, Africa, by a French technical mission. Common carp was introduced by European immigrants coming from Argentina during the decade of the 1970s.
Tilapia was disseminated through rural fish farms with the objective of increasing protein production to improve the diet of the peasant population. However, no control was exerted on fish populations relative to hybridization and/or sexed male selection for on-growing. At present, genetically improved tilapias are being used.
During the 1980s, the fish culture station of Entidad Binacional Itaipú started the breeding of native species such as: pacu, boga, carimbata, etc., mainly to restock natural water courses of the Itaipú reservoir.
In 1990 this fish culture station of Entidad Itaipú Binacional launched and extension program for the surrounding areas of the reservoir. Since 2003, extension is practiced in different places of Paraguay.
In 1990, the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences (National University) introduced improved Nile tilapia (O. niloticus).
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Paraguay according to FAO statistics:
Internal Market. The main internal marketing points are: supermarkets, hotels, restaurants in urban areas, especially in the Capital City (Asunción) and the agro shopping fairs, where iced fresh fish is sold.
Tilapia nilotica is commercialized alive, fresh, frozen, filleted. Native species (pacu, boga, prochilod, etc.) are sold either fresh or frozen. Crustaceans (giant prawn and crayfish) are also commercialized fresh or frozen.
Producers sell their produce at the farm gate to intermediaries or middlemen either alive, whole, processed, or frozen. These intermediaries in turn, deliver the produce to consumption centres (fish markets, supermarkets, etc.). Producers often sell their produce retail in nearby communities.
The private company Bauman processes filleted tilapia, packaging and labeling (bar coded) for sale to fish markets and supermarkets.
The farmgate price of tilapia ranges from US$1.00 to 2.00/kg.
The price of tilapia fillet at supermarkets is US$6.00/kg.
The farm gate price of giant tiger prawn varies from US$10.00 to 12.00/kg.
External market. Presently there are no exports of aquaculture produce, but industrial production projects contemplating the exportation of tilapia are being developed by private enterprises.
The aquaculture sector in general, in its present stage of development showing trends towards intensive production, contributes to strengthen some economic sectors in rural communities as well as some commercial sectors in urban areas. Since there are no exports, aquaculture is not yet a source of foreign currency.
There are no available statistics on the economic distribution of the sector.
Food security. The consumption of fish at a rate of 0.5 to 1 kg/per capita once a week, or twice a month in the case of subsistence farms, contributes to improve the animal protein diet of the low income population and generates additional income.
Aquaculture plays an important role in improving the livelihood of the rural population and constitutes an important means of alleviating poverty.
From a commercial point of view, a sector of the urban population obtains its fish supplies from supermarkets, restaurants and agro shopping fairs benefiting from aquaculture too.
Since 2003, there has been an increased public awareness on the importance of the development of aquaculture. For its part, the national government has made efforts to support this activity through the passing of new laws and regulations, and through the allocation of lines of credit in order to promote the development of aquaculture and thus encourage private investment as a means of generating employment opportunities.
It is important to underline that the intensification of aquaculture is being incentivated to increase its productivity. Intensive cage, tank and net enclosure culture systems are being promoted as an alternate activity for inland fishermen and riverside populations.
The Ministry of the Environment (SEAM), is the entity responsible for administrative and regulation control of fisheries and Aquaculture (Law 799/95); this is the most relevant among other Environmental Laws decreed by SEAM.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Law 81/92) is responsible for development of agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock offers technical assistance to fish farms on production and transference of technology through small groups of technicians and extension workers (formed by four persons). Aquaculture producers benefit from the established programs and agreements with the private sector (foundations, cooperative societies, municipalities, consulting groups, etc.). Training programs for aquaculture producers are also organised by the following intsitutions: MAG-VMG-DIPA-Department of Aquaculture.
The private sector (producers – traders), is organized in committees constituted by 6 to 12 producers. Fishfarming Cooperatives have from 70 to 100 associates – Aquaculture associations.
The regulation and juridical framework for the Paraguayan Fishing sector includes: Law 799/95 and Regulatory Decree Nº 15.487/96 for Fishing, containing chapters related to aquaculture (but id does not contain specific and fundamental regulations for full development of aquaculture). At present, it is under analysis at Congress.
Based on Constitutional regulations, juridical issues and their objectives, the Executive has dictated a range of regulations, which have an updating and adaptation process according to knowledge derived from surveys and studies on technical know-how. Juridical regulations linked to aquaculture (Law 799/95 of fishing), at present is being revised by the National Congress for modification and inclusion of fundamental chapters on aquaculture matters by the Commission on Natural Resources and Environment (CONADERNA), which includes technical representatives of all linked sectors.
Of all the primary productive sectors, aquaculture is the latest new comer to incursion in the field of research.
In order to provide a response to the many queries posed by aquaculture producers, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences of the National University of Asuncion (FCV/UNA) is conducting research in the fields of artificial breeding, formulation of feeds and nutrition throughout the life cycle of aquatic organisms, polyculture, production of mono-sex fingerlings, cage culture production, integrated aquaculture and animal husbandry, shrimp culture, etc. Most of this research is being conducted at the integrated farm and the nutritional laboratory of the Animal Husbandry Experimental Farm. This farm conducts research on cattle, goats, rabbits, bees, poultry and fish, fodder, etc.
In its pathology laboratory, research is underway on parasites, bacteria, appearance of diseases in fish farms, environmental conditions in culture systems, etc.
Each research programme is headed by a researcher assisted by a stand-in technician. The results are evaluated and validated at production farms.
Research Institutions: Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences (FCV) at the National University of Asunción (UNA).
University titles: Ph.D. in Veterinarian Sciences, B.Sc. in Animal Production, and Veterinarian Medicine
The Ministry of Justice and Labor, through its technical Units for Professional Training (UPT), offers financial support to farmers in the areas of fish culture. In 2004, 120 scholarships were offered with the objective of promoting labour.
In response to a specific request posed by the National Government, the Multidisciplinary Mission sent to Paraguay in April 1990 by the FAO Fisheries Department, concluded that the Fisheries Administration should be re-organised and its capabilities strengthened in order to enable the realization of the potentialities of fisheries and aquaculture within the country.
On 1 March 1991, the Ministry of Agriculture an Livestock (MAG) in coordination with FAO, initiated the implementation of the Technical Cooperation Programmme “Planning and Institutional Strengthening for the Development of Fisheries” (TCP/PAR/0051) with the aim of reinstalling the institutional capacity of the MAG on three main fronts:
As a result of the evaluations and recommendations of such Programme, the aquaculture sector began to flourish and expand.
The MAG lent more technological assistance to aquaculture producers and the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences created courses on Pathology and Fisheries Biology (fourth course) and Aquaculture (fifth course), to provide the basic background training needed by students to attend foreign educational institutions: Brazil (7), France/Ivory Coast (2), United States of America (1), Venezuela (1), China (1 professional, 2 technicians), Chile (2), Costa Rica (1 technician), Israel (1).
A technical Mission (TFAO/Tilapia FOOD/Belga) jointly with the Faculty of Veterinarian Sciences of the National University of Asuncion (FCV/UNA), participated in a programme to strengthen the productive unity of the Aquaculture Station of the FCV/UNA. Thus, the Fish Farming Training Centre was created and the Aquatic Production Cooperative “San Antonio de Padua”, with more than one hundred producer associates at the community of Acahay/Dto (Paraguarí).It was founded in a 15 ha plot of land which has a pond surface area of 8 ha, with a production capacity of 30 tonnes/ha/yr.
The Fisheries Law 799/95 vested the MAG with the authority to enforce fisheries regulations by the fisheries and aquaculture sector. However, in 2000, Law 1561/00 was decreed as surrogate of the Fisheries Law 799/95, by which the Ministry of the Environment becomes the primary authority over the fisheries and aquaculture sector. This created a fracture in the institutional development, with negative repercussions on aquaculture production. In contrast, the private sector targeted investment on aquaculture, thus propitiating its development.
It is to be underlined that Binational Entities – Itaipú Binational and Yacyretá, provide financial support to research and to the implementation of productive programmes in diverse geographycal sites in the country (under diverse modalities: earthen ponds, floating cages, and net enclosures).
Foreign investors (Taiwan/China) have expressed their interest the construction of fingerling production stations; and geographic survey and mapping have been proposed to the Japanese Government through JICA.
Due to the important animal husbandry agro-industrial development in Paraguay, the feed manufacturer Trociuk has incorporated the production of feeds for aquaculture in its line of animal feeds.
Intensive fish production in floating cages has attracted the attention of official sector and private entities due to its potential importance to fishermen and riverside populations.
Fuente: Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería - Paraguay