Fish farming in recent years has gained momentum and is booming in the Upper Highlands. That’s the word from Mr Jacob Towa, owner of Towa Fish Breeding and Hatchery Farm in the Western Highlands Province.
Mr Towa told PNG HAUSBUNG that he started his journey in farming back in 2002 and by 2019 he went into breeding male tilapia.
Towa Fish Breeding and Hatchery farm is one of the biggest Tilapia fish breeding farm in the Upper Highlands, where eggs are removed from the tilapia fish, washed and placed in jars for up to 8 or 12weeks when these fish eggs hatch.
“When the eggs hatch, I feed and look after the hatchlings for up to 21 days when they become fingerlings and that is when I sell them to fish farmers.”
“It’s quit a skillful and delicate job where these hatchlings have to be fed 5 meals a day, and I feed them with Sex Reversal Tilapia Feeds (SRT) so the hatchlings can develop into male tilapia fish only.”
Mr Towa said almost 30 fish farmers benefit from his project.
“I supply fingerlings to Southern Highlands Fish farmers, Enga, Jiwaka, here in Western Highlands and the latest was Wewak where I supplied 20,000 fingerlings.”
“Each fingerling is 50t, but if one fish farmer comes with K1000 for fingerlings then a K500 worth of fingerling is given for free.”
Mr Towa said he believes in helping local fish farmers.
“I know that when I give 50% extra of how much they bought then this customer will still come back to me.”
Mr Towa further added that there is a demand for fish consumption in the Highlands Region and soon more people will be eating fresh water fish instead of tinned fish.
“Supermarkets in Mt Hagen often buy fresh water fish for K12.00 or K12.50 per kilo, but farmers are encouraged to sell at main markets, Asian shops and schools where each fish is sold according to their sizes, with prices ranging from K3- K5.”
Towa also added that a fish feed now has gone up to K50 and its quit hard on the fish farmers given the economy crisis the country is facing at this time, however with an intervention by National Fisheries Authority in providing feeds for them is timely.
“National Fisheries Authority has just given us 5 containers of fish feeds which is now in Mt Hagen and this will greatly help ease the financial burden faced by the fish farmers.”
He also highlighted that fish farming was a bit slow when it was first introduced by the National Fisheries Authority because fish ponds have male and female fish together where they keep on producing more and tend to grow slow and small in size, thus making farmers lose interest in fish farming.
However with the introduction of breeding and the process of hatchling to fingerlings, this has greatly improved fish farming, where breeding is done in breeding farms where only male fingerlings are sold to fish farmers.
“Male fish tend to grow more faster and bigger than the female fish, thus bringing in more income for the fish farmers,” said Mr Towa.
Towa proudly mentioned that his Towa Tilapia Fish Breeding and Hatchery farm is one of the only 6 breeding farms in the country that is still in existence despite National Fisheries Authority’s attempt in introducing these breeding techniques to all 22 provinces.
“I am happy to help any fish farmers who need my technical advice, if you know where to locate me then come to me, otherwise you can message me via my face book account “Towa Fish Breeding” and I will come and help you grow yours fish farm and give you the necessary advice you need”.