Representatives of the National Aquaculture Association of Guyana (NAAG) were recently in Seattle, Washington to attend Aquaculture America 2009, where leading professionals in the field pointed to Guyana as a place to invest.
More than 1,500 aquaculture specialists from around the world met to hear technical presentations as well as attend a trade show with nearly 200 vendors.
Past President of the World Aquaculture Society, Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons, said the delegation from Guyana presented the case for aquaculture’s growth potential in a tropical country with abundant water and labour resources.
He said Guyana has made strategic investments in high-quality tilapia broodstocks that are attractive to investors who will not need to bring in their own founder stocks.
“The international community of aquaculture development has now identified Guyana as a place to invest, and local government agencies and fish farmers should expect some hard questions from potential partners,” he said.
“The Caribbean location and English-speaking workforce are especially attractive to investors. As the best commercial aquaculture locations in Jamaica, Honduras and Costa Rica have been built out, investors are looking at nearby countries to further expand
production,” Fitzsimons added.
Aquaculture America is the largest aquaculture trade show and conference exhibition in the western hemisphere. It was held last month.
The rapid growth of tilapia farming in the Americas was a prime topic of discussion, and industry representatives from Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Guyana, Mexico and the US met to discuss trade figures, new production strategies, genetics, and nutrition and feed advances.
According to NAAG, the Trade Show demonstrated many new ideas that could help aquaculture in Guyana evolve, including feed ingredient substitution using protein concentrate from corn; a new aerator system for aquaculture ponds that provides a wider oxygen dispersion; and new technologies for making “happas”, the nets used to contain and protect fingerlings (juvenile fish) while they grow to an appropriate size for full-size grow-out.
NAAG member, Satesh (Chico) Persaud of Maharaja Oil Mills, a fish-feed producer and aquaculture hatchery entrepreneur in Guyana, said of his experience at Aquaculture America, “When you think you’ve learned it all, along comes an opening that starts you off all over again. Exposure to the latest research and techniques of aquaculture is by far the best way to improve on our aquaculture protocols. At the speed with which we are developing, Guyana will one day be presenting papers at such forums,” he said.
Attending trade shows like Aquaculture America is an important strategy that NAAG is using to help Guyana’s aquaculture sector improve and stay up-to-date with industry best practices and technology.
The aquaculture events offer NAAG the opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with key industry players while learning about new technologies, emerging market trends, and innovative production ideas.
At these conferences, NAAG has held meetings with Dr. Kevin Fitzsimmons of the USAID Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP); Harry Rhea of USAID Aquaculture; Aaron McNevin of the World Wildlife Fund–Tilapia Aquaculture Dialogue (WWF–TAD); and former World Aquaculture Society (WAS) President Dr. Charles Bai.
These meetings have allowed NAAG to participate in collaborative work and expertise exchange, and to take advantage of invaluable advice.
The next conference NAAG will be attending will be the World Aquaculture Society 2009, which is scheduled for Veracruz, Mexico from May 25-29.
Members of NAAG represent all elements of the industry, including farmers, entrepreneurs, feed producers, members of the government (research and development), donor agencies, and NGOs.
NAAG meets weekly at the office of the United States Agency for International Development/Guyana Trade and Investment Support (USAID/GTIS) project.
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