Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Gov’t invests over $500 million in tilapia farming

Published:Monday | March 4, 2024 | 4:10 PMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Floyd Green (right), minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining, speaks with (from left) Omar Sweeney, managing director of the Jamaica Social Invetment Fund); Denise Daley, member of parliament for St Catherine Eastern; and Stephen Chung, managing dire
Floyd Green (right), minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining, speaks with (from left) Omar Sweeney, managing director of the Jamaica Social Invetment Fund); Denise Daley, member of parliament for St Catherine Eastern; and Stephen Chung, managing director of Contraxx Enterprises Limited, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Fisheries Authority Tilapia Upgrade Project at National Fisheries Authority Aquaculture Division Phase 2 property Twickenham Park in St Catherine last Thursday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining plans to invest more than $500 million to revitalise tilapia fish breeding in Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

Announced by Agriculture Minister Floyd Green, the investment is part of a comprehensive initiative undertaken in partnership with Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the World Bank.

The project includes the construction of a 12,000-square-foot bio secure tilapia factory, treatment systems, solar systems, standby generator, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, alongside a guard house and administrative facilities.

Breaking ground for the tilapia upgrade project, Green emphasised its significance in advancing Jamaica towards food security. He highlighted the partnership’s key focus on the construction of a bio secure climate-resilient tilapia hatchery through the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) 11.

“The outcome of this effort is a programme of improvement of the infrastructure associated with the seedstock and other operational activities for the aquaculture division,” Green elaborated.

Acknowledging the current challenges faced by small- and medium-sized fish farmers, Green emphasised their aim to reduce dependence on the National Fisheries Authority for seedstock. He noted that the entity currently supplies about 500,000 fingerlings annually, which covers only 45 per cent of demand. This, he said, leaves many farmers waiting for as long as six months for restocking, thus forcing some out of business.

“With this upgraded hatchery, the capacity to provide fingerlings will increase from 500,000 to five million annually,” Green announced. “This will give our tilapia farmers access to secure superior seedstock, encouraging sustainable production for various markets.”

Moreover, the minister outlined investments made in Ebony Park, Clarendon, to train the next generation of fish farmers, utilising an off-the-grid solar system to power the initiative.

JSIF Managing Director Omar Sweeney underscored the importance of the hatchery, borne out of REDI.

“The project includes a crucial training component for factory operators, imparting essential skills in facility management and specialised technology operation,” Sweeney disclosed.

Denise Daley, member of parliament for St Catherine Eastern, foresees positive impacts on unemployment and the reduction of stigma in inner-city communities.

“With this holistic approach Jamaica is poised to strengthen its tilapia farming industry, promoting sustainability, economic growth, and food security for the nation,” Green emphasised.

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