With the Kingdom’s aquaculture community woefully ill-prepared and ill-equipped to stay afloat in a sea of substandard imports, something is urgently needed to encourage the local farming of lucrative aquaculture fish species and the production of fish feed, according to the Cambodian aquaculturist. association (CAA).
This was the general thrust of CAA’s message at the annual meeting of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on March 22, which was also attended by officials from the Fisheries Administration (FiA). of the ministry and representatives of the private sector. The association also mentioned “eight key challenges” and “11 suggestions”.
Speaking to The Post on March 23, Thay Somony, director of the FiA’s Aquaculture Development Department, listed the following eight key challenges: the prevalence of poor quality juvenile fish with no clear source of origin; a lack of knowledge of fish farming techniques; and a limited level of overall aquaculture skills.
The other five covered: large volumes of fish feed imported into the market; inefficient irrigation systems; limited quantities of domestic fish of lower quality than desired; poor management of imported live fish; and other market issues.
“The main challenge we need to address immediately is to stimulate the production of offspring that have reproductive potential and high market value.
“The FiA, ministries of agriculture and economy, development partners and banks all agree that these issues need to be addressed urgently, but it will take some time to prepare for the production of brood fish. as well as varieties that grow well and are diseased. resistant,” Somony said.
He said the task would require extensive research by his department and the Faculty of Fisheries at the Chamkar Doung Campus of the Royal Agricultural University, as well as other research centers and institutes.
But ultimately, this “important duty” will curb the importation of juvenile fish from neighboring countries and turn local aquaculturists into more efficient breeders, he added.
Another pressing problem is the limited local production of fish feed, which fuels imports, he pointed out. However, offering a silver lining, Somony suggested that the large number of importers vying for business in the Kingdom has also improved the quality of feed for farmers.
CAA President Sok Raden told the Post that about “90%” of the “general species” of juvenile fish used by aquaculturists are imported. Fish feed prices are high and there are few proper quality controls, he said.
He said the association has urged the government to bring more juvenile fish to aquaculture players, especially species with considerable market value, to reduce the importation of poor quality fish from neighboring countries. .
“Many aquaculturists are on the verge of bankruptcy because farming is in decline. We call on the government to intervene on issues such as the production of juveniles, the provision of techniques, the reduction of imports of live fish and the installation of large-scale irrigation systems.
“The biggest crisis when it comes to importing live fish is the lack of proper inspection, which affects consumers,” Raden said.
The Ministry of Agriculture said that in 2021, over 324 million new fish hatched in Cambodia, up over 89 million from 2020.