Haiti FishFarm-1024x680Vincentian Family Fish Farm in Central Plateau Breaks Ground

Nine acres of carefully selected land in Haiti’s Central Plateau will become the new home for 25,000 baby tilapia, or “fingerlings,” in early 2014 as the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative launches a commercial fish farm that will create jobs and improve nutrition in this rural region.

It was late October 2013 in Savanne Perdue, a neighborhood of La Hoye near the larger city of Lascahobas and the Dominican border when about 65 people, including representatives of six branches of the Vincentian family, gathered on the site to break ground. The property was selected for its geographical diversity and includes a large lake, and both flat and hilly areas conducive to the variety of agricultural endeavors planned for the site, according to Regine Theodat, national director for the Vincentian Family Haiti Initiative.

The farm will launch with four basins that generate fingerlings. After growing to a weight of several ounces, the fingerlings will be transferred to 10 cages that will float in the lake. When the fish mature to full size in six months, they will be about 1.5 pounds and ready for sale.

When fully operational, the farm will create five full-time jobs and dozens of seasonal jobs as the tilapia are harvested and sell for up to $2.20 per pound. Assuming an 85 percent survival rate, the catch is estimated to pump more than $200,000 into the local economy annually. In 2015, a goat breeding center will be added to the site to expand commercial opportunities in the community.

Theodat called in one of the most respected aquaculture agronomists working in Haiti, Valentin Abe, a native of Ivory Coast and founder of Caribbean Harvest Foundation, to draft the farm’s blueprint. Former American President Bill Clinton nominated Abe as one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People.

With Abe’s expert advice and support from Zanmi Agrikol (Partners in Agriculture) and Centre de Formation Fritz Lafontant, a vocational school that teaches agriculture, construction and woodworking, the project is progressing toward success.

Jacqueline Casseus, national president of the Ladies of Charity (AIC) and a VFHI board member, attended the opening ceremony. “The impact will be significant, not only for the people of Savanne Perdue, but for all the surrounding communities. It will create jobs and give them the necessary means to support their families. It will give birth to a process of development with amazing results,” she said.