Tilapia is a tropical freshwater fish suitable for providing a source of fish protein to meet food security needs and livelihood for the increasing populations of the country.
However, Fish farming or pisciculture is not that common in the Solomon Islands. Raising tilapia commercially takes time, patience, and hard work.
Mr Maxwell Ham has been farming and breeding Tilapia for more than 3 years now in Aruligo, North West Guadalcanal.
Environmental Media caught up with him recently at his place and have a chat with him as he tells of his story, farming the ‘Aquatic Chicken’
“I live here for almost five years and I think I have been raising tilapia for almost three years now.
“The project was initiated and started by us, our community, with my little knowledge in Tilapia, and little money I have, I then started to purchase from people in the surrounding communities, I pay $5 per tilapia then raised it.
“I don’t go into any training on Tilapia farming but I work at a different area which is in the area of research in terms of coastal marine.
“My job is to raise troucas, sea-cucumbers and clamshell but I see tilapia as an easy project where people can venture into because it did not need any technical work. The important thing is how you handle and manage it.
“I have made one shipment to Vanga college in Western Province, an RTC at visale, and some farmers surrounding the Aruligo area.
“However, most of the time, people come to me because they have their farms and they just need some knowledge and advice about tilapia,” Maxwell said.
He furthered that he often arrange training with the Ministry of fisheries to support local farmers residing around North West Guadalcanal.
Meanwhile, work is continuing at the National Tilapia Hatchery project at Aruligo, North West Guadalcanal.
The project is jointly funded by the Solomon Islands and the New Zealand governments under the ‘Mekem Strong Solomon Islands Fisheries programme (MSSIF)’.
Despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic having slowed progress on the construction of the hatchery, work is continuing.
The project will be a boost for Tilapia Farmers like Maxwell as it will provide the needed facilities to import and manage an improved strain of tilapia for rural fish farmers.