FAO: Barbados could save millions by scaling up fish silage production

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

An official of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says Barbados can save millions in foreign exchange if it increases the production and use of fish shilage in the agriculture sector.

FAO Representative Juan Cheaz Peleaz made the recommendation at the Fish Silage Project Completion Workshop at the Fisheries Division headquarters in Bridgetown on Wednesday.

The project which started in 2019 as a collaborative effort of the FAO, Ministry of the Blue Economy, and the Argentina government, seeks to assist local fish vendors in recognising the benefits of silage production, as well as best practices when it comes to reducing fish wastage.

Fish silage is a liquid product made from whole fish or parts of fish that are liquefied by the action of natural enzymes in the fish, in the presence of an added acid. It is used as an ingredient in animal feed.

Cheaz Peleaz insisted that upping fish silage production would have significant benefits for farmers and Barbados.

“Processing one tonne of fish raw materials per day in Barbados, or about 199 200 kilogrammes per year, would produce 200 040 kilogrammes of fish silage. At the current rate, it would take about five years, for example, [in] rabbit and sheep rearing production to use this volume. What does this mean? Obviously, we have a huge potential, and we will see where that potential lies specifically with the experiences and the trials that have been done in the sector.

“This significant volume of fish silage needs to be utilised; however, the reality is that the actual utilisation is at one per cent,” the FAO representative said.

He added that given the significant amount of money spent annually on importing feed products, silage production can help save much-needed foreign exchange.

“Barbados’ imports, in terms of preparations that are used in animal feed, in 2022 was about $8 million. Looking at that, one could say that a guiding goal would be how can we increase animal feed production and use it in a wider range of applications, how can we import dependents for final feed products, how can we reduce reliance on imported dry inputs to derive feed production towards local production?” Cheaz Peleaz said.

Argentina’s Ambassador to Barbados, Ciro Luciano Ciliberto Infante, noting that over 1 000 pounds of fish by-products were produced in Barbados per day, said the benefits of increased use of fish silage within agriculture cannot be overstated.

“The fish silage has replaced corn and soya that was imported into Barbados to make local livestock feed,” he noted. “It will also help to create several hundred new jobs in the fishing industry as well as in the agriculture sector.”

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