Tilapia farming
Jun 24 2013

Guatemalan father finds opportunity raising fish

Fernando’s 8-year-old daughter, Maydi, is a CFCA sponsored child in Guatemala.

Fernando and his wife Sonia have seven children and recently started a career raising tilapia!

Tilapia farming is new in Guatemala and new to CFCA’s Hope for a Family livelihood programs.

Fernando will be one of the first tilapia farmers in the CFCA program to sell a batch of 50 fish.

Fernando’s next harvest might be 100 or 150 fish, and CFCA staffers are eager to see his farm grow.

I have worked for a long time in the sugar fields.

I go there to sell snacks for sugar plantation laborers.

I [ride around the sugar fields on my bicycle], and I carry snacks, soda bottles and candy on my back to offer to my clients.

It is not easy under this hot weather.

I am getting old, and I recently had surgery for a hernia. I feel that I will not be able to do this type of work for much longer. This is why I want to have a different type of job.

I have faith in my tilapia farm.

CFCA showed me how to start a tilapia farm, and I began my new business in December of 2012.

It looked like a nice new way to provide for my family. I was convinced that this type of work has a bright future, and this is why I decided to work with tilapia.

I am excited because my fish are growing!

I like to feed them and watch how they grow. I treat them with care and love.

CFCA has been with me in every step of this project. They visit every month to check on the progress of my fish.

I expect to have my first batch of 50 fish ready to be sold in about one month.

My fish are 5 months old, and they have a good size and a good weight. I am happy with the results.

CFCA has helped my family in a great way. They provide monthly benefits for us and they also provide help and encouragement to start livelihood projects like this tilapia farm.

Guatemalan tilapia farm

When asked about what he enjoys least about tilapia farming, Fernando looked at his fish, laughed, and said, “I don’t like getting wet. I am just kidding! This is a fairly simple job; you just need to clean the water and feed them.”

The work that CFCA does with families in this community is big. They are providing us with much love and support.

With the food supplies, shoes, clothing and other benefits we receive, I am able to save money for other family needs.

All things in life need love. For things to grow we need love, so I provide my family and my fish with lots of love.

Necessary items required to start a tilapia farm:

1. Black nylon 5 yards by 7 yards
2. Bags with dirt
3. Wire mesh 3 yard by 4 yards to protect the fish from birds and other predators
4. Plastic water pipes
5. Fish food
6. Tilapia

For a farm like Fernando’s, a family will need approximately $65 to start their business with 50 fish.

Guatemalan tilapia farm

A closeup of Fernando’s constructed tilapia farm.

8 steps to building a tilapia farm

A family will need at least 3 square meters of space in their yard, access to running water and the weather conditions of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. First dig a rectangular hole for a fish pond 1 meter deep by 1.5 by 2 meters.

2. Coat the fish pond with the black plastic nylon so the water does not seep into the ground.

3. Place the bags of dirt around the edge of the fish pond to help the black nylon stay in place.

4. Then, fill the pond with running water, using the plastic pipes to bring water to the fish pond.

5. Purchase 50 or more baby tilapia fish and place them in the pond.

6. Cover the pond with the wire mesh to protect the fish from birds and other predators.

7. The tilapia must be fed three to five times a day; the amount of food depends on the number of fish and their growth stage.

8. Every week, the fish pond must be cleaned by emptying 25 percent of the pond water and adding 25 percent clean water.

Families will nurture the fish for about six months. When the fish weigh approximately 1 pound, they are ready to be sold for about $1.80 each.

Fernando learned about tilapia farming through the CFCA livelihood programs, and he is now helping to motivate other families to get started in this business.

Currently, 12 families in the CFCA program are growing tilapia in Fernando’s community, and about 100 CFCA families are raising tilapia in communities throughout Guatemala!

Click here to get the recipe for a delicious traditional dish of tilapia lemon soup from San Pedro La Laguna, a small town on Lake Atitlan!

Related links:

Tilapia lemon soup (Guatemala recipe)

Fishing for a new life

Donate to The CFCA Livelihood Program

Sponsor a child in Guatemala

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