zamorano´s outreach magazine
Once the “poor man’s fish,” Tilapia is now responsible for a new market demand and the further development of aquaculture in Central America.
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
hen you speak with Dr. Daniel Meyer, professor of aquaculture and cell biology at Zamorano University, you quickly discover that this is the motto he lives by.
firm believer in the benefits of sustainable aquaculture with over 30 years experience as a researcher and teacher, Dr. Meyer has traveled throughout Latin America and abroad to train small farmers in the best methods of production. He favors the farming of tilapia â€“ a freshwater fish originally from Africa â€“ for a number of reasons including its nutritional content, ease of cultivation, and rapid growth rate. In 1976 Dr. Meyer started training Zamorano students in the fundamentals of fish farming in Latin America, and soon after he began studying and raising tilapia on campus. In 1999 Dr. Meyer and collaboratorsfrom Oregon State University and
other institutions won funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) in Aquaculture. (Consumption of tilapia has been on the rise in the United States since the 1980s, when health experts began recommending that Americans eat more fish and less meat.) Under the grant, Dr. Meyer and his team promoted tilapia farming in rural areas of Honduras and sought solutions to the difficulties facing regional tilapia producers and distributors. Dr. Meyer and the Zamorano team trained representatives and extension agents from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to visit farmers throughout Honduras and provide technical support and instruction in sustainable farming methods based on CRSP research results. To support the CRSP work, Dr. Meyer authored training manuals with easytounderstand instructions, photographs, and diagrams about such topics as the care and feeding of tilapia, pond cons-
zamorano´s outreach magazine
truction, water chemistry, and waste management. Recognizing that small- and medium-scale fish farmers usually have to purchase young fish from expensive and often inaccessible sources, Zamorano University began to provide technical training on tilapia reproduction to farmers interested in producing tilapia brood stock for sale. Today, Zamorano also supports first-time fish farmers in Honduras and parts of Nicaragua by selling them quality seed stock. While his outreach efforts are impressive, Dr. Meyer remains first and foremost a Zamorano professor. “I find the enthusiasm of the students infectious, and I´m always impressed with their drive to develop better methods and production practices,” says Dr. Meyer. He is an avid
supporter of Zamorano’s “Learning-byDoing” academic approach and observes that Zamorano students gain new knowledge, practical experience, and greater self-confidence while working at the aquaculture station and at other work installations around campus. In addition, students often live off campus with small farmers during their pasantías (work-study internships) which happen during the first trimester of their fourth year at Zamorano. Students then observe first-hand the benefits of aquaculture for rural families. Tilapia plays an importantrole in improving the family diet with quality animal protein, while also providing needed income through sales. The money generated by a successful farm provides a better quality of life for the entire family, which might include
access to better healthcare services, an improved and more varied diet, and sometimes even the purchase of a vehicle. Dr. Meyer often takes groups of students on fieldtrips to local rivers to obtain and test different species for possible use in aquaculture production. One local species, the ¨guapote” (Parachromis managüense, classified among the cichlids), is gaining in popularity as a companion fish in tilapia ponds because it is a carnivore. If a pond only contains tilapia, the fish quickly begin to reproduce, crowd one another, and remain small and stunted, unsuitable for sale as food. The guapote eat the young tilapia (“fry”) allowing the older fish to grow to marketable size. Zamorano teaches Honduran tilapia farmers how to introduce and maintain multiple species in their ponds to improve yields. Promoting the diversification of pond fish stocks is one of the many ways that Zamorano fosters economic and dietary improvements to alleviate chronic poverty, a central goal of the university.
Zamorano has provided more than 100 qualified professionals that now have key positions in aquaculture companies in Central and South America, including more than 25 in Ecuador, another “hot spot” for tilapia production.
Given that Hondurans are not accustomed to eating fish as frequently as people from Asia, North America, and other countries, the CRSP-funded tilapia project also had to find ways to encourage local consumption. The Zamorano team realized that the observation of Lent – a two month period prior to Easter when Catholics generally abstain from eating red meat – provided an opportunity when farmers might make inroads into the market. Thanks to this insight and to competitive pricing measures, some tilapia farmers now generate sufficient profit during Lent to sustain their operations for the entire year. Meanwhile, among some Hondurans, there is still a perception that tilapia cannot compete in the United States market
zamorano´s outreach magazine
against fancy fish such as salmon and tuna. Dr. Meyer disagrees and notes that the United States already imports $60 million worth of Honduran tilapia fillets each year and this number is on the rise. Further, the tilapia fish farms and packing plants provide jobs and local income in support of many Honduran families. For these reasons, many countries in Latin America are now following suit and initiating tilapia farming programs of their own. The Zamorano project has seen impressive growth and improvements in tilapia production in Honduras and other Central American countries. Dr. Meyer emphasizes, however, that tilapia aquaculture may not be the right answer for everyone. Zamorano focuses on small land holders with the right combinations of resources for successful fish farming and emphasizes that environmental safeguards are paramount for the health of the farm, the family, and the natural environment. Tilapia farms are designed
as closed systems within which waste water is repurposed for activites, such as crop and fruit tree irrigation. Once the “poor man’s fish,” tilapia is now growing in demand regionally. Almost all supermarkets in the region carry tilapia in their seafood displays cases, and most restaurants have tilapia on their menus. Zamorano has provided more than 100 qualified technicians that now have key positions in aquaculture companies in Central and South America, including more than 25 in Ecuador, another “hot spot” for tilapia production. Dr. Meyer observes, “With time and continued support from Zamorano, we will likely see a day when most Hondurans and other Central Americans enjoy this fish as part of their regular diet.” In this way Zamorano helps people to eat not just for a day, but for a lifetime.
zamorano´s outreach magazine
Prior to his arrival in Honduras, Meyer earned his B.S. in biology and an M.S. in zoology at Clemson University in South Carolina; his masters thesis focused on the ecology of fresh water animal species. Subsequently he earned a Ph.D. in Aquaculture at the University of Auburn in Alabama, where the subject of his dissertation was the effectiveness of methyl-testosterone on the sex reversal and early growth of several tilapia species and a hybrid. Today, in addition to running the Aquaculture program and teaching classes in aquaculture and cell biology, Dr. Meyer also directs the general curriculum and directly supervises instruction in diverse areas, including history, chemistry, physics, biology, and English-as-a-secondlanguage.
Dr. Meyer has developed and conducted numerous training programs related to aquaculture and the commercial production of tilapia and other fin fish species. He has presented workshops and consulted in a number of countries, including Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the United States, and Venezuela, and has managed aquaculture outreach programs for institutions including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Public Welfare Foundation, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and several agencies from Germany. His research interests include small farm aquaculture, management protocols for tropical fin fish and crustacean production, the assessment and reduction of environmental impacts of aquaculture, and the evaluation and improvement of genetic stocks used in aquaculture.
n April 1974, Dan Meyer arrived at Zamorano as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. Within two weeks he was teaching classes and working with the Zamorano administration to expand and fortify its curricula. In 1976 he founded the aquaculture program at Zamorano, and in May 1977 he became a full-time employee of the university, where he has been teaching since.
Thanks to Dr. Meyer´s leadership, the Zamorano Aquaculture Station now includes 27 earthen ponds and more than 90 concrete and fiberglass tanks for the production and care of fin fish and shrimp. The station also maintains a water quality laboratory, a “wet lab” for experimentation, and concrete and fiberglass tanks in several greenhouses. 9
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EDITORIAL TEAM LUIS SALAZAR MARTIN SCHWARZ LEE SHANE DAN EDSON ADRIANA RODRIGUEZ LIGIA ROMERO NAHUM SAUCEDA Courtesy of PROMIPAC ALEXIA FRANKS DON POUCHER
Creative Director Supervisor Writer Copy Editor (English) Translator Copy Editor (Spanish) Graphic Design & Layout Photography Contributors Consultant
Zamorano is a not-for-profit educational institution incorporated in the state of Delaware in the United States of America, and registered with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a (501)-(c)-(3) organization. In many Latin American countries there are tax benefits for individuals, companies, and other groups providing support to Zamorano.
Front cover: A Zamorano student checks the mouth of a female tilapia for eggs as part of a fourth-year thesis project.