The blog post below is a translation of an article published by elmundo.com on August 7, 2012. The original Spanish-language version can be found here. The article provides useful information on the aquaculture and fishing sector in El Salvador.
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Written by: Sury Velasco
The government is working on a project to strengthen the country’s small and medium fisher-people and aqua-farmers. In three years, they have invested $4 million in this area.
Fishing and Aquaculture is one of 10 production chains of the Family Agriculture Plan (PAF) which generates greater revenues for both the artisanal and the industrial sectors.
According to the most recent data of the Center of Fishery and Aquaculture Development (Cendepesca), the sale of fish and aquaculture products generates $90 million a year.
Hugo Flores, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, indicated that this total represents the sale of 43 million kilograms of products like shrimp, tilapia, and mollusks.
Currently, the artisanal sector is made up of 23 thousand fisher-people and the industrial sector is represented by 32 vessels. Together these sectors generate a million dollars in sales.
Due to its impact on the national economy, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) named this chain a priority in 2009 in order to drive its development.
Up to that date, the ministry had already invested $4 million toward improvements in the production of tilapia, shrimp and mollusks and for the renovation of aquaculture laboratories and stations. This year, the budget will reach $1.1 million.
The goals is that all seafood fingerlings and spats will be produced in country, as is increasing production so that families can both subsist off production and sell directly in markets without intermediaries.
“We are highlighting the importance of a sector that in recent years has received little attention in public policy,” said Flores.
Currently 28 Productive Development Centers are operational, of which 24 focus on shrimp and the rest on aquaculture.
In the case of tilapia, Cendepesca has doubled fingerling production from 289,000 to 495,344 per month in the Santa Cruz Porrillo station in La Paz alone, which has 30 production tanks. This precinct alone technically assists 66 of the 200 beneficiary families.
Alejandro Flores, owner of Cendepesca, said that this project, executed in municipalities of extreme poverty, also provides incentives like production ponds and 400 tilapia for start-ups.
In the case of seafood spat cultivation, support has been prioritized in Usulután, where 85% of the country’s producers are found.
One of the first Service and Distribution Centers (CAS) operates there, which is made up of five cooperatives (Sendero, Verde Mar, San Hilario, La Caranza and El Torno) dedicated to the production of white shrimp. They possess 82 hectares of tanks, where 350,000 pounds of shrimp are produced a year.
With technical assistance, their goals include organizing themselves in order to enter the market as direct vendors and increasing the weight of shrimp up to 14 grams.
Increasing production five times
As for the production of mollusks, oysters and shellfish, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is cooperatively driving a project with Cendepesca with the aim of increasing production by five times starting this year.
The idea is to increase annual production from one to five million oyster, shellfish and mollusk spats with the expansion of ponds and improvements in pre-production practices.
In order to achieve this, $2.5 million would be invested.
28 28 CAS dedicated to fishing and aquaculture operate in the country.
85% 85% of all the country’s shrimp producers are in Usulután.
$2.5 million JICA will invest $2.5 million to increase mollusk production.
Exploring the possibility of being suppliers
Jacobo Rivera, president of the Shrimping Cooperative El Torno, confirmed that the five cooperatives that make up the Service and Distribution Center (CAS) in San Hilario, Usulután, are in the process of establishing themselves as seafood suppliers in national and international markets.
As for local efforts, he confirmed that they have already had dealings with restaurants and hotels in the capital in order to establish commercial relationships.
The idea is to supply the demand for seafood directly, without intermediaries.
“Uniting the production of the cooperatives creates the capacity to meet the demands of hotels and restaurants and to sell directly and reduce costs as well,” said Rivera.
Currently, their products are sold only along the borders, that is to say, along the shores of the production ponds.
On the other hand, he confirmed that commercial contact had been established to provide white shrimp to Mexican business people interested in buying Salvadoran seafood.
The business people, he said, are from the state of Campeche, where, because of the climate, shrimp production stops between August and January. For this reason they hope to stock up on shrimp imports.
For their part, he says that they have carried out trips throughout Central America in order to learn better production practices, taking into account that each trip establishes El Salvador as an area of promise.
14 The weight of the shrimp being demanded in markets is 14 grams.
350 thousand The San Hilario CAS produces 350 thousand pounds of shrimp a year.
Translated by: Alaina Marie Sylla