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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fiji-EU: Cluster farming helps improve tilapia production

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has been working with the European Union (EU) and the Fiji Ministry of Fisheries and Forests (MFF) in assisting smallholder tilapia farmers to improve production by working together in cluster groups.

Experience in Africa and Asia shows that, by working in a cluster, farmers can improve economies of scale and increase their bargaining power for inputs, such as fish feed or hatchery seed supply.

Over a dozen farmers are part of two cluster groups that have been formed in the Western and Central Divisions of Fiji through the efforts of SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (FAME) division and the European Union-funded Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project, in consultation with relevant government departments and farmers.

These farmers were assisted through technical assessment of their farming methods and production output. Teams from SPC and MFF’s Farm Development Unit made recommendations to farmers about a range of improvements in their operations and equipment, covering aspects such as pond design, farm management practices, post-harvest handling of fish, and proper record keeping. By attending regular cluster meetings, farmers who previously did not know each other have been able to share knowledge, share vital equipment like harvest nets, and coordinate better to regularly supply fish to markets.

Since the formation of the clusters in 2013, SPC and MFF have been closely monitoring the production performance of the farmers involved, and so far the results have been positive.

'The production of tilapia by the participating farmers in the Central Division cluster in the 2013–2014 period has doubled, in comparison with the 2011–2012 period prior to the IACT project intervention. Production for the Western Division cluster is also expected to increase significantly,' said Jone Varawa, a member of the SPC aquaculture team working with the clusters.

Source: fis.com