GEORGETOWN, As the cash strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) looks to new ways to generate funds to ensure its sustenance fish farming is one of the avenues that is being looked at.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Guysuco Errol Hanoman said that a 300-acre aquaculture farm is being looked at as one of the possibilities to inject much needed funds into the entity. He said that tilapia is the preferred species of fish that is being considered. According to Hanoman a feasibility study is currently being done by an American company and those findings will be presented to the government by the end of the month.
Hanoman said that he is hopeful that the pilot project of this size will arrest the slide that currently prevails in the troubled industry.
He said that upon completion of the feasibility study the corporation will be in a better position to pronounce on the actual financial returns that will be accrued from the venture.
Hanoman added that he did not want to preempt how much the industry stands to benefit from the undertaking, but he said based on the magnitude of the project he was optimistic that it should be substantial.
Further, Harmon explained that the aquaculture project is part of a wider plan to diversify the industry as Guyana’s sugar continues to attract less than favourable prices for sugar abroad.
He said that this project will aid in widening the revenue base of the industry added to the proposed seed paddy facility that has already been announced by the government.
Tony Vieira who currently heads the diversification unit at Guysuco had explained in a letter that the aquaculture project is a worthwhile one.
Vieira said trials were done for the government for $200 million in 2008 by the University of Arizona and the Collaborative Research Support Programme.
He said that the price for tilapia in 2006 was US$1.10 per pound. However Vieira said today the price would venture close to US$2 per pound since the price has gone up.
The trial yielded 21,780 pounds of tilapia per acre which worked out to US$43,560 per acre in gross income. This was actually two crops a year of 10,890 pounds in each crop and 10,000 pounds per acre.
That project found that if Guysuco were growing tilapia instead of cane its income would be US$43,560 a year per acre, nearly 400 per cent greater than sugar cane.
Vieira who has been in sugar cultivation for many years said that if the 120,000 acres of sugar cultivation was growing tilapia and not sugar cane, we would be earning US$5.2 billion from it annually and not the US$132M annually that sugar raked in.
He said that nothing ever done in Guyana’s history comes even close to the magnitude of this kind of income.
“Even if the study conducted in 2008 had an error of 100 per cent we would still be earning US$2.6 billion which is more than gold, rice, bauxite and sugar combined.