The Ministry of Food Production in collaboration with Community-based Environment Protection and Enhancement Prorgramme (CEPEP) is expected to harvest a total of 27,000 pounds of tilapia annually with the launch of the Floating Raft Cage Culture Project in Ste Madeleine yesterday.
The first of its kind to be launched in Trinidad, the project is located at a pond on the compound of the old Usine Ste Madeleine sugar factory, Factory Road, Ste Madeleine. The location is now home to CEPEP.
Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj delivered the feature address yesterday.
“I am positive that this floating raft cage culture project will go a long way in contributing to the continued sustainable growth of the agriculture sector and assist in creating a food secure nation.”
The project has come at a time when there is rising demand for fish as the nation moves towards healthier lifestyles, Maharaj told the audience which included among others CEPEP chairman Adesh Deonarine and Fisheries Officer, Ministry of Food Production (Aquaculture Unit) Harnarine Lalla.
“As such aquaculture has been identified as a strategic commodity to develop,” he continued.
Saying that floating raft cage technology was not new to aquaculture but new to Trinidad, Lalla whose idea it was to introduce the project locally, said he was asked to find a way to utilise the ponds which were once used cool the steam boilers in the sugar factory.
One large pond on Manahambre Road, Ste Madeleine near the old sugar factory continues to be used by villagers for hobby fishing. The Food Production Ministry promises not to take it away from the community.
A large floating cage with compartments containing various sizes of tilapia, built on plastic drums, has been placed in the large pond which has a depth of 25 feet.
Lalla noted birds, caimans and thieves present a challenge to the success of the project but he assured stakeholders that measures have been put in place to protect their interests.