Tilapia production has become a hot topic after the Aquaculture project was started. Since the entry barrier of tilapia farming is less than other aquaculture issue, with the assistance from the Aquaculture Project, which is a cooperated project between the Government of Belize and (the) Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), there are more than 100 producers who have ventured into having their own tilapia farm and have received good revenues. However, in order to look for more successful experience for the tilapia producers and Belizean consumers, the aquaculture project is still working to improve the capacity of all the tilapia producers in the country. One of the important activities is community outreach through conducting professional workshops.
During 2016, four (4) workshops were held, the latest one was held on July 27th. This workshop was held at the Tilapia Hatchery Center in Central Farm under the theme “Capacity Building in Production and Marketing”; more than 40 participants got exposed to different areas of tilapia farming. During this event, the participants received lectures with different subjects, including “Planning for Tilapia Cultivation & Pond Construction”, “Pond Management for Tilapia Cultivation”, “Demonstration of Tilapia Cleaning Process” and “Small Scale Tilapia Business”. These participants were also involved in a role playing activity in which they portrayed as a tilapia provider who wanted to sell their products to the supermarkets and restaurants. After receiving lectures and partaking in the different activities; the participants had an open discussion with the Aquaculture Unit Technicians, which included the sharing of tilapia farming experience and business. Many producers mentioned that the tilapia farming was a good way for the agriculture business and also could serve as the solution of getting good protein for family; furthermore the producers also shared their personal experience of the key points to achieve a successful tilapia farming, such as good pond planning, good feeding system, good quality of water and good marketing skills.
The last issue mentioned during this workshop was how to change the consumers’ mind to make them believe in that the farm raised tilapia has a better taste than the river fish and does not have the muddy flavor. The participants said the challenge faced was how to make consumers try the farmed tilapia first. They agreed that both words of mouth spread promotion and a tilapia open day event could be helpful to impress and deepen consumers’ interest and participants are willing to start preparing for this event.
The Workshop was successful and satisfying because it brought a big influence to the tilapia producers in Cayo District, Belize. It really built and improved the capacity of participants for tilapia farming, because they’ve got firsthand information which is very useful for them. They all mentioned that the assistance rendered from the Aquaculture project is most important for the Belizean tilapia producers; many of them are very enthusiastic about tilapia farming and have decided to continue this business.