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PD/A CRSP Aquanews-Winter 2003

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Regional Beneficiaries of Honduras Project Training Program

by Daniel Meyer, Escuela Agrícola Panamericana El Zamorano

ne of the principal approaches we employ in working towards the long-term goals of the PD/A CRSP is to provide opportunities for effective technology transfer. PD/A CRSP-sponsored training events serve to improve and enhance local research and production capabilities, hence contribute to development of the aquaculture infrastructure. Our goal as PD/A CRSP team members is to build local competencies so that our presence and assistance are no longer required. We are working towards the eventual goal of making ourselves unnecessary and superfluous!

During October and November 2002, the PD/A CRSPs Honduras Project held several important training events in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras. These courses provided useful information, advice, and practical experience on the varied techniques for producing tilapia with low cost inputs. Attending the courses were more than 150 individuals interested in tilapia culture as potential additional income from their farm operations.

The courses offered in Nicaragua and El Salvador included the following major topics:
- Use of internet-based information and an overview of our web site on tilapia (Verma, Maldonado, Aleman).
- Tilapia biology and culture, water quality, nutrition and feeding, processing, production costs, and marketing tilapia (Meyer, Hughes).
- Pond construction and use of the PD/A CRSP computer models for pond design (Tollner).
- Social and economic factors for promoting tilapia culture in development projects (Molnar, Triminio, Martínez, Trejos).

At the conclusion of each training event the participants were asked to evaluate the course.

Course participants and PD/A CRSP team members at Ave María College of the Americas in San Marcos, Nicaragua, last October.

Photo by Daniel Meyer

Nicaragua

The course was held 1–4 October on the campus of the Ave María College of the Americas, San Marcos. This private university provided us with logistical and other support during the four-day event that was attended by 58 participants. Most participants were agricultural producers, government and NGO extension agents, students, and university faculty, all with a strong interest in farming tilapia.

The course was well received by the enthusiastic group who showed much interest in tilapia culture. More than 90% of participants responded that all topics were important. Their overall evaluation was that the course was very good or excellent. Some felt that the course should include some practical experiences with live fish and visits to operating fish farms.

El Salvador

The course was held 7–10 October at the Luis Poma Training Center in San Salvador. We had a total of 83 participants in the course from all areas of the country and one from Guatemala. Many of the attendees represented NGOs operating in El Salvador, government agencies, private farmers and investors, students and university faculty.

In this instance, more than 95% of participants evaluated the event overall as very good or excellent. As with the Nicaragua group, many thought they would benefit from practical experience with tilapia and visiting operating fish farms to complement the theoretical knowledge acquired during the course.

In both workshops, the number of participants that registered for each event and their high level of enthusiasm greatly exceeded our expectations. We were impressed by the local support we received for our efforts, and the commitment of the participants to implement tilapia culture using PD/A CRSP-generated information and locally available expertise. In each country, part of the training event’s final session was dedicated to exchanging information so that interested individuals and the PD/A CRSP team members could remain in contact.

Following the two events in Nicaragua and El Salvador, we organized a five-day practical course (24–29 November) on the Zamorano campus to complement the previously covered topics. This event attracted nine participants (five from El Salvador and four from Nicaragua). The aim here was to provide practical experience with feeding fish, fertilizing ponds, evaluating and managing water quality, integrated pig/fish production, sexing of tilapia, and reproduction and sex-reversal procedures. A central feature of this approach was to visit two fish farms in Honduras.

Honduras
Honduras Project Staff

Escuela Agrícola Panamericana El Zamorano
Daniel E. Meyer
George Pilz
Suyapa Triminio
Hector Lagos

University of Georgia, Athens,
Georgia
Brahm P. Verma
E. William Tollner
Jennifer Maldonado

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
Joseph J. Molnar
Elizabeth Trejos
Pablo Martínez
Julian Montoya

In addition to the above, David Hughes, Professor of Aquaculture Business at Ave María College of the Americas in Nicaragua, was contracted to participate in the Nicara-gua and El Salvador training events. During the 1980s, Hughes, then with Auburn University, was a PD/A CRSP principal investigator in Panama.

In support of NGOs and other local organizations, during 2002 we held several one-day theoretical and practical courses in Honduras at the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana El Zamorano campus. These events included the following:

The PD/A CRSP Honduras Project team at the training course in Nicaragua, 2 October. (Back row left to right: Marco Aleman, Suyapa Triminio, Bill Tollner, and Pablo Martinez; bottom row left to right: Daniel Meyer, Jennifer Maldonado, Juana Ayestas, and Brahm Verma.) Juana Ayestas helped with logistics and participant registration, and Marco Aleman presented the talk on internet-based information access. Both are Zamorano employees.

Photo by Daniel Meyer

- A visit to the campus for twenty Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) that work in the Peace Corps’ agriculture program in Honduras.
- A visit to the campus for eight extension agents and ten fish farmers from the Rural Reconstruction Program, an NGO that operates in the Santa Barbara Department.
- A one-day training session with over 50 participants for members of a women’s group and high school students from Alubaren (Francisco Morazán Department) in support of the efforts of two PCVs working in this community.
- A visit to the campus for eight extension agents and 25 farmers (women and men) who are beneficiaries of the "Action against Hunger" program in Eastern Honduras (El Paraíso Department).
- A one-day hands-on course with 18 farmers and extension agents from the community of Vallecillos. (These farmers had previously attended a short course with us in November of 2001.) This workshop included demonstrations of techniques for feeding fish and fertilizing ponds, determining the sex of adult tilapia, and water quality evaluation and management.

At each of these events we distributed copies of our tilapia production manual, Producción de Tilapia en Fincas Integradas Utilizando Insumos de Bajo Costo, developed and published with support from the PD/A CRSP. To date we have distributed more than 1,000 copies of this manual in five countries.

Feedback from all of these training events has been very positive. A tilapia farmers’ group has been formed in each country.

Additionally, we have been invited to do similar courses in Guatemala, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic during 2003.

Course participants visiting with Santiago Mejia (far right), a commercial fish farmer from Olancho, Honduras, during the 27 November practical course held in Zamorano. The plastic tanks contain adult tilapia for stocking into 500m2 ponds for reproduction.

Photo by Daniel Meyer

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