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Farmers Work Together To Expand Production

21 January 2011

SINGAPORE - 24 fish farmers in Singapore have teamed together to create a co-operative, to help them reel in larger harvest and secure better deals from buyers and suppliers.

The first farm co-op here, the Singapore Marine Aquaculture Cooperative was given the green light two weeks ago. An application had been filed with the Registry of Co-operative Societies in September last year.

The 24 members own eight fish farms in total, each more than half a hectare in size. The co-op’s goal is to scale up production of the four main types of fish reared - seabass, tiger grouper, red snapper and golden trevally - to an average of 120 tonnes a month for each farm by next year. In the whole of last year, each harvested an average of 60 tonnes of fish.

The fish, fattened up from fry from countries such as Indonesia and Taiwan, will be sold at wet markets, restaurants and supermarkets.

The co-op has inked a contract to buy 800,000 fish fry a month until April next year from a hatchery in Indonesia, said the co-op’s founder Philip Lim, owner of a fish farm in Pasir Ris.

‘Without a co-op, farmers cannot get consistent supplies of fish fry or feed as suppliers cannot be bothered to sign contracts with such small players,’ he added, noting that bulk buying also reduces costs.

Systems are being installed at the fish farms to monitor the water oxygen levels, plans are afoot to tag fish with radio frequency identification technology to ensure quality, and the search for land to build a hatchery has begun. The project will cost about $5.6 million, paid for by members and raised with the help of investors.

The co-op is also in talks with supermarkets such as Cold Storage and Giant to clinch sales, said Mr Lim.

Its creation is among moves that the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) hopes will push up the amount of local fish in the national supply from 4 per cent to 15 per cent in the next five years. There are currently 111 coastal fish farms here, mostly in Pasir Ris, Changi and Lim Chu Kang.

According to the AVA, 122,610 tonnes of fish were consumed here in 2009, about 95 per cent of which were imported from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

TheFishSite News Desk



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