Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero III has cited five major challenges of farmed tilapia producers and their possible solutions in his column in the January 2019 issue of Agriculture magazine published by Manila Bulletin.
Dr. Guerrero is the pioneer in tilapia sex reverse technology and was director of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD) which is now merged with PCAARRD).
Farmed tilapia production has been registering very low increase in average annual production rate in the past several years due to five major constraints as gathered from the farmers themselves. In the 10-year period of 2007-2016, Dr. Guerrero reported that the annual production of farmed tilapia grew ony by 0.7 percent, not even one percent.
1.HIGH TEMPERATURE – The high temperature during March and April is detrimental to the performance in both breeding ponds and growout ponds. One solution to lower the high temperature is shading the ponds with silver straw net and aquatic plants. By using the net with 40% shading, the fry production of Nile tilapia in freshwater breeding ponds increased by 77% compared to the non-shaded ponds. On the other hand, growth of the black-chin tilapia was better compared to that of the control in the freshwater pond with 24% shading with floating water lettuce.
2.LACK OF GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE – Extension and technical services are direly needed by the filapia farmers. The extension workers of local government units that are tasked by the law to deliver such services should be well-trained and adequately supported.
- POOR BREED OF TILAPIA – There is lack of government-accredited tilapia harcheries in the country for the production of quality fry and fingerlings for dissemination to farmers. More tilapia hatcheries should be put up, especially in Mindanao with government support.
- HIGH PRODUCTION COST – The cost of commercial feed used for instensive culture of tilapia in ponds and cages constitutes 60-80 percent of the total cost of production. The substitution of imported feed ingredients like soybean meal with locally available copra meal can reduce the cost of feeding. The use of floating extruded feed pellets for cage culture of tilapia in Taal Lake reduced the amount of feeding by 20-30% and lessened feed cost by 18-29% compared to using slow sinking pellets.
- LACK OF CAPITAL – Soft or interest-free loans should be provided to tilapia farmers, particularly for expansion in areas with high growth potential production in brackishwater ponds, mariculture parks and freshwater ponds in Mindanao, and establishment of accredited hatcheries.
By the way, Dr. Guerrero is a long-time columnist of Agriculture Magazine, the most widely circulated agri magazine in the Philippines.