A former OFW who worked as caregiver in Israel for 1.5 years more than 20 years ago, swears it is very much better running your own business in the Philippines than going abroad to work. In Israel, she was paid P25,000 a month. Today, there is the potential of making millions of pesos in just one month.
Normita de la Rueda and her husband Mario, a former seaman, have been running a four-hectare tilapia hatchery in Calauan, Laguna as their business. They started their project in 1998 by converting a rice field into tilapia breeding ponds.
Today, they take care of 60,000 breeders which spawn every month. They produce about 3 million fingerlings that sell for P4 to P5 apiece and millions more of newly hatched fry (1 to 2 days old) which fetch P4,000 for every 100,000. It takes only 500 breeders to produce 100,000 fry.
The couple has mastered fry and fingerling production as hands-on operators through the years. They are multiplying the Excel tilapia because this is a fast-grower.
We met Normita and her husband at the Santeh Tilapia Consultancy Forum in Talisay, Batangas on March 23, 2018 which was attended by tilapia cage operators, hatchery owners, traders and technical experts of Santeh Feeds.
We learned that each tilapia breeder remains productive for 18 months. Every month, it spawns producing thousands of fry each time. After spawning, the breeders are confined in hapa nets for three days for conditioning as the pond is drained. When the pond is refilled with new water, 1,000 female breeders and 200 males are stocked together in one place.
Female breeders are selected from stocks that are Size 9 –10 which are about 4 to 5 months old from fry stage. These cost P2.75 each. In one month, they will start spawning and will do so every month for one-and-a-half years.
What are the main expenses incurred in the tilapia hatchery? The biggest expense is on feeds, according to Normita. The 60,000 breeders consume P79,000 worth of feeds. Other expenses are on the hapa nets for confining the breeders as well as the fingerlings, and labor. The couple employs 10 workers in running the hatchery. The couple could easily recover their expenses if they are able to sell their fry and fingerlings.
The tilapia cage opertors in Taal Lake are the biggest buyers of their fry and fingerlings. But there are also other customers from Laguna, Bulacan and elsewhere.
Overall, the tilapia hatchery business has been a profitable project for the De la Rueda couple. Normita says it is much better to have your own business in the Philippines than to be working abroad.