Providence Heights residents turn to ornamental fish project
THE initiative is just in its embryonic stage, but already residents of Providence Heights are expressing confidence that the planned ornamental fish-rearing project for the area will bring rich benefits to that inner-city community.
“What we really want to do is not just to raise some ornamental fish to sell on the local market, but to turn it into a tour for school children and tourists, as well as to tap into the export market,” said Baldwin Dulston, a community member, who is also a Justice of the Peace.
“Our community has got a battering over the years and we believe that this project will help to remove the stigma from the community and to uplift it. This is one of our main objectives.”
The 46-year-old Dulston is among a group of 10 Providence Heights residents who recently completed a one- week training course in ornamental fish production conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with the member of parliament for the area, Dr Horace Chang. The bulk of the training was held at the Flanker Basic School.
During the programme members of the group were introduced to a raft of topics, including basic fish biology, breeding ornamental fish, ornamental fish diseases, filter construction, aquarium construction, water quality management and filter maintenance, transportation and packaging of fish for market, business management and ornamental fish nutrition.
They were also taken on field trips in the Waterhouse and Mountain View communities, where they viewed a number of ornamental fish-rearing projects.
Leslie Smile, who has more than 30 years experience in the rearing of ornamental fish, said the training sessions were very informative, and lauded the team of instructors from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, headed by Stacy-Ann Gray.
“They did a very good job and were impressed with all of them. It was really a good experience,” said Smile.
According to him, the group is now busy making plans to form a company, which he believes will make it easier for them to access funding for the project.
“We want to start rearing the fish in another few weeks or so, so we are also going to meet with our MP (Dr Chang) to see how best we will be able to do that,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Dr Chang said, he will be pumping roughly $2 million from his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) over the next 12 months, in the project.
He argued that additional financing for the project will be sought from other agencies, once the project is up and running.
Noting that there is a lucrative overseas market for ornamental fish, the MP said he believes that the community members involved in the project will “stick with it and turn it into a huge success”.
It is widely believed that ornamental, or exotic fish farming could be a lucrative business in Jamaica. The colourful fish are kept as pets and are in high demand in the US, especially in colder states where they are said to help lift spirits during longer periods indoor during the winter. The global demand is now valued at roughly US$6 billion, according to a source at the agriculture and fisheries ministry.
Source: Jamaica Observer