To ensure sustainable fish production for food security, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) of the Province of Cebu continues to implement the Inland Fishery Tilapia Culture as one of their province-wide programs.
“Started in 1997, the Inland Fishery Tilapia Culture provides additional income to our fish farmers, thereby increasing their standard of living,” said Aquaculturist II Aylen T. Cielo who is handling the program since it was implemented.
Tilapia is among the important fin fishes that are popular and widely cultured in the country. It is dubbed as the “aquatic chicken” due to its high growth rate, adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions and ability to grow and reproduce in captivity.
The Inland Fishery Tilapia Culture project has two categories: cultured in communal demo ponds and backyard demo ponds category.
Under the communal ponds category, the tilapia farmers’ association will be operating the project while the backyard category are for members of the association who can manage in their own backyards as long as they have the area that is abundant with water supply.
Funded by the Provincial Government through the OPA, the tilapia fry are provided with 47 bags (fry mash, starter, grower and finisher) in every 500 sq. m.
In 2013, the OPA record shows that the program has provided a total of 491 bags worth Php 490,000 to beneficiaries in the province.
As of July 24, there were 48 bags distributed to the municipalities of Ronda, Moalboal, Badian, Alegria, and Ginatilan for the backyard tilapia ponds.
According to Cielo, the OPA delivered a total of 47 bags breakdown as follows: 1 bag tilapia fry mash, 10 bags tilapia starter feeds, 21 bags tilapia grower feeds, and 15 bags tilapia finisher feeds, all worth Php 44,356.40 to Catmon town on July 25.
It takes only about three to four months to grow fingerlings to fish of about 250 grams.
Since the province does not have a tilapia hatchery, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), being the partner agency of the program, supplies the tilapia fry.
Cielo added that tilapia is a good source of protein. Hence, tilapia production can be maximized by fish farmers for their families’ food consumption. This practically helps them save more of their income and reduce the rate of malnutrition among their family members.
Apart from this, tilapia is easy to feed aside with not just commercial feeds available in the market but also with kitchen leftovers, kangkong, dried coconut meat, and other organic food.
A whole tilapia fish can be processed into skinless and boneless fillets.
In Cebu, tilapia has marketability and thus, holds potential for the Cebu Provincial Government’s thrust on self-sufficiency in food as well as economic growth.
To ensure sustainability of the project, the Province of Cebu, through the OPA, is responsible for conducting technical and environmental validation of the sites recommended by the local government units (LGUs), providing hands-on training to the organization in coordination with BFAR 7, providing continuous supply of quality breeds and tilapia fry, extending technical assistance to fish farmers and the LGUs through consultation and periodic site visitations and conducting periodic project monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment.
For the fish farmers, from backyard enterprise to high technology systems, tilapia has long been chosen as an alternative to milkfish due to its high profitability and especially that the fry source of the latter is scarce and seasonal. Ana Liza L. Abao, SWU MassCom Intern