“On-farm feeding and feed management in aquaculture” was the topic of the expert workshop that AQD organized and hosted for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the request of its Aquaculture Service (FIRA) from 13 to 15 September in Manila.
From the global synthesis, regional reviews, and case studies in eight countries, the experts agreed that (1) generally, the use of high quality feeds does not necessarily mean high returns, but that (2) feed management protocols on-farm can significantly reduce costs by 15-20% and thereby increase profits of fish farmers. An illustration of the second point is the experience of a farmer in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai, who heads a 36-member cooperative raising catfish. In his presentation, Mr. Nguyen said they are getting a benefit of about VND 923 (US$ 0.05) per kg fish when they reduced their feeding from twice to once a day even though the culture period was longer by a month or so. Considering that the cooperative produces 150,000 tons, the savings from feed management is substantial. He also said their farms have less disease incidence and the less-fatty catfish are more acceptable to processors.
The workshop identified these main issues in on-farm feeding and management: (1) limited access of farmers to information on feed and feed ingredients as regards their availability, prices and quality; (2) poor feed preparation and processing at the farm level; (3) lack of monitoring of feed and farm performances; (4) weak extension and dissemination of new strategies on improved feeding management (like alternate or skip feeding); (5) gaps in the understanding of the economic aspects of feed management; (6) need to develop health indicators for farm stock and integrate these to feed management; and (7) need for mechanisms to regulated feed quality. There were 47 participants, 10 AQD staff and 5 observers who attended and listened to results of farm surveys in Bangladesh, China, India, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, Egypt and Ghana.
AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo, on the other hand, outlined AQD’s historical work on feed development and its role in assisting private sector development through the promotion of science-based, sustainable aquaculture technologies and practices. While Mr. Kazuyuki Tsurumi, the FAO representative in the Philippines, reiterated FAO’s commitment to helping countries manage their fisheries and aquaculture sectors effectively.
The species covered in the workshop include Nile tilapia, Indian major carps, striped catfish, whiteleg shrimp, tiger shrimp and freshwater prawn.