Letan Bosye is farming community a little less than an hour outside of Jacmel, it’s always had a lake but the farmers never took much interested in fishing up until a year ago. With help from a Spanish NGO, the community purchased Tilapia fish cages and constructed a building with solar panels to contain a freezer to store fish.
In it’s third harvest the fishing project has caught the attention of several small families who are interested in purchasing their own cages; the birth of a small fishing community. Costs and upkeep however are just now being turned over to the village; $20 a week for food and $600 for the cages, an investment that isn’t affordable for most of the the families in the area without the external help.
After being boated out to the the cages, shown the feeding process and then taken to the storage freezer, we met with the project leader and discussed the development of the project and took notes on their solutions.
The most expensive input was the feed, which is imported from Port au Prince. They have experimented with food for the fish; using bread fruit, a local fibrous hanging fruit and reeds. The fish ate it right up, but the community was worried about how healthy it was for the fish and if they could continue to feed them the fruit for long periods of time.
The biggest issue though was the expense of the cages. They are made of PVC and plastic mesh. In theory, they will last a long time, however their $600 expense is not sustainable in Haiti. A quick talk with hydroponics experts back in Port au Prince revealed that there are projects in South East Asia that use bamboo and sap.
The viability of the business model is not obvious from our discussions with the community, though they know there are issues. Taking a much more involved inspection of their involvement with the NGO they’re working with and the sale of the fish would be needed before any honest report of sustainability could be made.
It’s a good idea in theory, but if the cages require external construction, it might as well be a dead fish in the water.