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Taiwan hands over tilapia project to Belize Government

The Government of Taiwan handed over a tilapia hatchery to the Government of Belize. Miguel Sosa the Coordinator of the Aquaculture Project shared the details.

Miguel Sosa – Coordinator, Tilapia Project

“It was a project that had been asked for by our government because there was a need to promote small scale tilapia farming in the rural parts of Belize but the agriculture department at the time did not have sufficient hatcheries to be distributing enough tilapia to farmers. So Taiwan ICDF approved the project for us, it was $2.5 million US dollars to be used and spread across five years. That time period has ended and as the project ends and results are presented and all the assets of the project are handed over now to the agriculture department. Those assets would be this building with its offices, dormitory and the hatchery that we have, which also can do production of fish as well. The project was not only to produce fingerlings but also to provide extension services so our staff gained experience and training in the field as we worked along with the Taiwanese Extension officers and together we’ve helped farmers to grow tilapia properly. From here on out it will just be just government of Belize staff. The farm was designed by Taiwanese experts and so what we have is the Taiwanese model but the Belizean staff also put in some input, being that we will be the long term users of the facility so we needed to be comfortable with what we were going to be using after they left. The project also provided short term training courses for two of our staff to go to Taiwan and see how they do fish farming there and to come back and see how they could adapt it to Belize. I, myself received a scholarship to further my studies in Aquaculture, a Master’s Degree, and I return back to hold over the post as the project coordinator. The project ends, we lose our Taiwanese project manager and now we will have a Belizean farm manager for this facility. What we need is to continue the increased production of Tilapia fingerlings, we have seen that what we sold in 2014 grew in 2015 and grew again in 2016  so we are expecting to sell more this year and the idea is that we continue going to public events like the National Agriculture Trade Show, World Food Day, to promote to the public that farm raised Tilapia are clean and edible and that Belizean fish farmers are able to produce high quality fish for them and once we have the buying from the public we will continuously bump up our production to meet their needs.”

On hand for the ceremony was Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse.

Godwin Hulse – Minister of Agriculture

“What the Taiwanese government has afforded us to do I understand it was about $2.5 million US dollars to get this facility up to provide a hatchery and a space for us to grow this industry we cannot thank you enough so thank you very much. The ending product of this is consumer acceptance of the product. It is our people working together and I see it both private sector and public sector; this is a private public partnership and there is space here for private private partnership, there is space. Private private partnership in the sense of feed production, private private marketing and of course public private partnership through this facility through our extension service through our own continued research, through financing through agencies like the DFC and through continued research and development.”

Ambassador Charles Liu and Governor General Sir Colville Young were also present at the ceremony.