Sustaining Small Scale Fisheries through Value-Added Production
Guyana has a low coastal plain which is the focal point of agricultural production. Rice is one of the main agricultural products produced in this region. Rice production in Guyana consists of many small to medium scale farmers, who supply both domestic and export markets.
Fishery production also takes place on the coastal area, given our 459 km Atlantic coastal zone and extensive network of rivers. This is great for sea food production which consists of marine fisheries that include prawns, shrimp, sea bob and a variety of commercial finfish. There is a need for much research to extract other species existing within the zone.
Apart from sea food production, aquaculture is a growing industry. It is still in its developmental stages but has the potential to be propelled to develop once necessary steps are put in place. However, aquaculture has so far been a very lucrative. Aquaculture is an advantageous opportunity for rice farmers to diversify; studies have shown that aquaculture production is much more profitable than the rice production. With irrigation systems already in place for rice production, there is much scope and adaptability for aquaculture production. More so, the byproduct of their rice, rice bran,( used to feed tilapia, the main fresh water fish species produced in Guyana) is used for feed. Chicken starter is also used as a fish feed, and is readily accessible in Guyana.
The Aquaculture can also be part be a diversification for the seafood companies, who would already have the facility and necessary systems in place for fish processing. These seafood companies can take advantage of this, and hence produce value added fresh fish products along with their sea food products. The seafood company to which the rice farmer sells aqua culture fish to can supply the rice farmer with sea bob, which is bountiful in Guyana sea fishing zone.
Initial investment needs capital. There is also need to put systems in place for production of value added products. Governments can help to promote value added production within this newly upcoming industry by implementing the needed credit policy and investing in the necessary research . This will help to ensure that the issue of limited investment is corrected by guaranteeing loans for fish production secure markets for their local producers and put system in place to protect them. The Guyana Small Business Bureau (GSBB) was granted a lump sum of cash to aid in the development of small businesses. It has the capacity of providing 40% of the needed collateral to access loans to start a business. This is an example of a credit policy that can mitigate some of the problems of accessing credit to invest in value-added production. The Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Lives stock (MFCL) manages, regulate and promote development of Guyana’s inland and marine fishery resources. MFCL can use their influence to provide extension services and research support to improve the methods and production practices of small scale fish farmers. There are a number of fisheries oriented groups who can benefit from training and implementation of value chain analysis, application of improved and new methods of production to strengthen weakness by collaborating with the Guyana school of agriculture, the government, and investors.
With the aid of the right mix of government intervention, efficient use of natural resources, currently available infrastructure and value-added analysis, small scale fisheries would be a sustained venture within the Guyanese Market.