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Domestic Marketing Strategies for Small-Scale Farmers in Nicaragua
By Ivano Neira and Carole Engle, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Rural farmers need to enter into the marketplace with appropriate products in order to obtain adequate returns on investment and sweat equity. In this way, farmers directly benefit from micro-enterprise. Moreover, concomitant trickle-up effects contribute to the wider community. The A CRSP has supported research in Nicaragua to better understand markets and
marketing approaches. These studies determined preferred sizes for tilapia in restaurants, supermarkets, and outdoor markets. Thus producers can time harvests in order to optimize product size for sale at specific venues.
Much of the tilapia supplied to markets in Nicaragua is caught wild from lakes and reservoirs. Larger tilapia are processed as frozen fillets and either exported to the United States or sold to Nicaraguan supermarkets. Small wild-caught tilapia are sold in local restaurants and supermarkets or are exported as fresh whole tilapia to other Central American countries.
Supermarkets in Nicaragua, on average, preferred larger tilapia products than did restaurants and open-air markets (Neira, 2002). This was true for fresh fillets in supermarkets (271 g), restaurants (87 g), and open-air markets (144 g) and for fresh whole-dressed fish in supermarkets (1,130 g), restaurants (294 g), and open-air markets (451 g), and frozen fillets (169 g in supermarkets and 96 g in restaurants). However, restaurants paid higher prices (average $3.10 per kg) for tilapia than did supermarkets ($2.96 per kg). Open-air markets paid the lowest prices ($2.00 per
kg). Neira (2002) found similar trends for prices of fresh whole-dressed fish and frozen fillets. As one might expect, frozen fillets were more preferred by supermarkets than restaurants.
Thus, the most promising markets for small-scale tilapia farmers appear to be restaurants and supermarkets because these outlets pay higher prices for fish than vendors in open-air markets.
An earlier survey found that larger restaurants that considered tilapia to be a high-quality product and that offered ceviche on the menu were those that tended to sell tilapia. Restaurants that did not sell tilapia appeared to be newer, smaller restaurants specializing in seafood. The most promising restaurant markets for tilapia farmers appeared to be older established restaurants that offered a variety of different types of food on the menu and, for example, served steaks.
The challenge for tilapia farmers will be to raise the size of tilapia required to produce the preferred sizes of fillets. To produce the size preferred by restaurants (87 g) will require farms to produce 580 g tilapia. The even larger size of fillet preferred by supermarkets
Most tilapia sold in markets is sold as fresh fillets.
. . .continued on p. 6
Farming in Kenya
...from p. 1
in Kenya, has resulted in a sizable increase in pond production and has transformed many low-yield fish ponds into productive systems.
Supported by the Aquaculture Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP), research at Moi University and Sagana Fish Farm has begun to identify alternative management practices and technologies that may be suitable for the region. Researchers have not assumed, however, that the results obtained under controlled experimental conditions are directly transferable to farms in the area. On-farm testing has therefore been undertaken as the logical step for transferring research-based technologies to the farm. On-farm testing of various alternatives has allowed farmers to assess their costs and benefits under local conditions as well as to receive
instructions and training in basic pond management skills. The conduct of such trials has also provided opportunities for project personnel to train and work with fisheries extension officers involved in trials at various locations, thus complementing training they have received in short courses offered by the Aquaculture CRSPs Kenya Project.
Results reported here were from on-farm trials conducted in collaboration between the Government of Kenya Fisheries Department, Moi Universityıs Department of Fisheries, and the Aquaculture CRSP.
In phase one of the trials, thirty farmers were selected to participate in on-farm trials in four districts of Central Province and one district of Eastern Province, Kenya, in 1999­2000. Phase two of the trials (in the western region of Kenya) began with a visit to the six districts selected for the trial. Pre-trial workshops
With help from Fisheries Officer Paddington of the Kenya Fisheries Department, fish farmer Jimmy Nabwera of Western Kenya has expanded his operation from one or two tilapia ponds to now include a water supply reservoir, several new ponds, and a small hatchery facility. Due to market preferences, he has also been shifting part of his effort from Nile tilapia to African catfish production.
. . .continued on p. 6
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