Local entrepreneurs to tap into ornamental fish market
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS are preparing to tap into the multimillion-dollar global market for ornamental fish under a project which has seen some 150 inner-city youth and women trained in urban ornamental fish farming, speciality crops and the innovation for exports initiative.
This is being done under the United States Agency for International Development-funded Development Grants Programme.
It is estimated that up to 1.5 billion ornamental fish are exported each year worldwide, with a trade value near or above US$400 million. The majority of these ornamental fish are sent either to North America or Europe. Their value tends to double or even triple, contributing to an aquarium retail industry valued at well over US$6 billion.
The ornamental fish component of the project which is being implemented by The Competitiveness Company seeks to develop an effective and profitable ornamental fish sector in Jamaica involving young urban fish farmers from the inner cities.
The objective is to introduce sustainable and meaningful income-generating opportunities, with the aim of improving standards of living, as well as minimising the target group's attraction to gangs.
Under the programme, which is conducted in collaboration with the Veterinary and Fisheries divisions of the agriculture ministry, The Competitiveness Company advises farmers on the types of fish to grow and markets them overseas. Farmers are paid after the fish have been certified healthy and survive transportation overseas, with market linkages already established in Atlanta and Miami in the United States, Montreal, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The company also offers technical assistance in the form of training manuals, farm set-up, advice and visits. A team of technical field staff also provides ongoing monitoring and hands-on support to farmers in the project.