Press Release: First Private Tilapia Hatchery Opens in Timor-Leste, Set to Boost Aquaculture Growth

4 minutes read

DILI, June 7 2019 – The first public-private model fish hatchery in Timor-Leste has opened today in Leohitu, Bobonaro, representing a critical step toward realizing the National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012-2030), which aims to boost fish supply from aquaculture to 12,000 tons by 2030 and reduce undernourishment by increasing per capita consumption of fish from 6.1 to 15.0 kg.

The hatchery was inaugurated by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Sr. Cesar Jose da Cruz, and the New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste, H.E. Philip Hewitt, as part of the USD 4 million Partnership for Aquaculture Development in Timor-Leste (PADTL) project (July 2014–August 2019).

Eng. Joáquim José Gusmão dos Reis Martins, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Timor-Leste: “Growing the aquaculture sector provides a huge opportunity to provide quality nutrition and enhance livelihoods in Timor-Leste. But access to quality seed remains a limiting factor. The new hatchery will greatly increase the access and availability of quality inputs in Bobonaro municipality, thereby enabling fish farmers to expand their existing operations.”

The hatchery was co-funded by the project and owner Joao Da Silva, who will operate the hatchery with six staff and technical support from the government and WorldFish through the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems. The hatchery was planned and constructed in six months (November 2018–April 2019). In the six weeks since breeding started on 18 April, the hatchery has produced over 1.7 million eggs, which will produce around 0.5 million fingerlings once nursing is complete.

Each year, the hatchery is expected to produce 2–3 million genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) fingerlings, which will be sold to a large number of fish farmers in Bobonaro and other municipalities as well as non-government organizations supporting aquaculture development in Timor-Leste. It is estimated that the hatchery will start generating a profit within six months.

The Bobonaro hatchery will produce broodstock provided by the government GIFT hatchery in Gleno, which was established by the project in March 2016 using GIFT broodstock imported from the WorldFish headquarters in Penang, Malaysia. Until now, the Gleno hatchery has distributed on average 0.4–0.6 million fingerlings annually to local fish farmers. But in the future, it will only provide broodstock to private hatcheries, once established, for reproducing and distributing to local fish farmers.

H.E. Philip Hewitt, New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste : “New Zealand is committed to working with the Government of Timor-Leste to support the sustainable and responsible development of the aquaculture sector. A coordinated and committed effort by the public and private sectors is critical to harnessing the potential of aquaculture to realize the country’s food and nutrition security goals.”

Dr Jharendu Pant, Senior Scientist, Sustainable Aquaculture, WorldFish : “The GIFT hatchery in Leohitu has been established under a public-private partnership (PPP) to achieve a common goal of improving access to and availability of high-quality GIFT monosex fingerlings to Timorese fish farmers. This is mutually beneficial to the private sector and the public.”

WorldFish, in collaboraiton with MAF, the Market Development Facility (MDF), and other partners, plan to continue supporting replication of the Leohitu PPP-model hatchery in other areas of Timor-Leste to address the growing demand for GIFT seed in the country.


Press contact
For more information or to request an interview:
Contact: Dr. Jharendu Pant, Senior Scientist, Sustainable Aquaculture, WorldFish

About the project
Over the last five years, the PADTL project, implemented jointly by MAF and WorldFish, has demonstrated the success of aquaculture in Timor-Leste. This is by establishing the GIFT hatchery in Gleno and introducing the rotational breeding of cohorts to maintain genetic quality. In addition, the project has tested and validated sustainable tilapia aquaculture technologies for Timor-Leste, with the aim to contribute toward developing a self-sustaining aquaculture industry that improves nutrition, food security, and rural livelihood. Critical to all this work has been the capacity building of aquaculture staff at the National Directorate of Aquaculture (NDA), MAF.

About GIFT
WorldFish developed the GIFT strain, which thrives in a wide range of environments and can grow 50-80% faster than other strains of non-improved fish. It is currently produced in 14 countries, requires no antibiotics and has a lower carbon footprint than either beef or pork. From a nutritional point of view, it is an affordable source of heart friendly omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients that are vital for childhood development and pregnant mothers.

About FISH
Pursuing a research agenda through a network of multistakeholder partners, the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) enhances the contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to reducing poverty and improving food security and nutrition. FISH is led by WorldFish, together with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia; the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) ; Natural Resources Institute (NRI) at the University of Greenwich, England and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Netherlands. In regional contexts, the program partners closely with governments, NGOs, the private sector and research organizations to influence national, regional and global policy and development practice.