Project Assistance Completion Report: Fish Production System Development Project (FPSDP)
PACR of a project (1979-1985) to assist the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) in expanding the freshwater fish industry by providing TA and training to extension agents and farmers in the production of tilapia. A TA team from Auburn University was successful in transferring scientific aquaculture technology to farmers and the GOJ's Inland Fisheries Unit. Training, provided both in Jamaica and at Auburn, was appropriate and of high quality. Five staff members completed degrees (1 Ph.D., 3 M.S., and 1 B.S.); another started a B.S., but was unable to complete it within the schedule. However, while the project did establish an inland freshwater fish-farming industry based on tilapia, it did not reach small famers, the intended project beneficiaries. While most production units created by the project are relatively small, many owners are medium-sized farmers or entrepreneurs for whom fish farming is one of several business ventures. The project also failed to establish a regional training program in fish production. Courses promised and started by the University of the West Indies are not now available, with the exception of a six-week overview of aquaculture. The Jose Marti Secondary School provided some training but is inadequate for a regional program, while another prospect, the Jamaica School of Agriculture, was closed in mid-project. Several lessons were learned. (1) Tilapia farming has the potential to become a viable industry in Jamaica and in similar countries. (2) In trying to develop an industry around smallholder production, a strategy must be developed early on to keep large farmers from seizing control. (3) Production is easier to set in motion than marketing, which must overcome social, cultural, and economic barriers. (4) Aquaculture is such a relatively new and inexact science that new technology may replace existing technology very quickly. (5) Most universities tend to neglect business issues (e.g., distribution and market demand). (6) Project redirection necessitates environmental reassessment, especially when new technologies are involved. (7) Government financial commitment should be obtained early in a project for activities that are not directly remunerative, such as research and training.