April 12, 2012
Blue Aqua International: A one-stop shop for sustainable aquaculture
An eFeedLink Exclusive
As the world's fastest-growing protein line, aquaculture is constantly seeking innovative and holistic solutions to reach its potential, especially in Asia, which accounts for three-quarters of the world's farmed fish production. Dr Farshad Shishehchian, president and CEO of Blue Aqua International explains how this one-stop aquaculture solution provider provides Asian fish farms with invaluable assistance.
by Geraldine EE
What are some recent developments in Blue Aqua International?
2012 was a very good year for Blue Aqua International. We expanded our business in main aquaculture countries and also developed a new approach to aquaculture - the Mixotropic system, for which we filed a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application for worldwide patent protection of its core components and method in 144 countries.
Mixotrophic system is an ecologically-balanced culture system developed for the management of super-intensive culture of shrimp and fish in outdoor environment. It provides a complete protocol adapted to several species, production and farm conditions, including guidelines on how to successfully manage and balance nutrient cycles and microorganisms in the pond at different stages. Mixotrophic has been successfully implemented in many shrimp farms in Indonesia with outstanding production record and profitability.
In Vietnam, Blue Aqua International and CJ Vina Agri collaborated on the Only One programme to increase the success and profitability of Vietnamese shrimp farmers. The programme was launched in the Vietnamese shrimp industry in 2012.
What is your reason for collaborating with CJ Vina Co Ltd?
Our complementary competence sees us through the synergistic alliance in Vietnam. CJ Vina provides expertise on feed and nutrition, which makes up the bulk of the cost of shrimp culture and are important factors in improving productivity, growth, water quality and profitability. Blue Aqua, on the other hand, provides expertise on water quality, biosecurity and farm management.
What is the market potential of Vietnam's shrimp industry?
Vietnam is one of the top shrimp-producing countries and we foresee Vietnam will become a global shrimp producer. We see potential in the market due to the long coastlines, socio-economic conditions, available land and affordable labour for aquaculture. We believe that the success of the Only One programme in Vietnam will be a good reference for us to strengthen our position and grow in Vietnam.
While growing our business activities in Vietnam, we hope to help aquaculture farmers produce quality food for consumers. We believe that we can make a difference by providing the right solutions to the market. Our solutions provide win-win situations for all stakeholders from farmers to consumers.
What are some challenges which Vietnamese shrimp farmers are facing?
In recent years, shrimp farmers in Vietnam are faced with disease outbreaks, lack of biosecurity and the overuse of harmful chemicals and antibiotics. With excessive use of harmful chemicals and antibiotics, residue accumulates in the ponds over time. Also, waste treatment of shrimp ponds results in discharge of effluent and sludge, which negatively impact the environment. These issues have to be tackled and stakeholders need to engage in ethical business conduct to ensure sustainability of the industry.
How does the Only One programme address these concerns?
The programme offers a roadmap for farmers to culture shrimp using sustainable practices without harmful chemicals, while optimising culture performance and farmers' profit. Essentially, the programme is a set of farming solutions for successful and sustainable shrimp farming, consisting of protocols and solutions for the management of water, soil, nutrition and pond environment. Ecologically balancing all these factors is the key to success.
At the end of the day, the Only One programme aims to develop the shrimp farming industry by improving production yield, improve product quality and lower cost.
How does Only One achieve the above aims?
We focus on educating our customers on the right farming protocol to culture shrimp profitably and in an environmentally-friendly way. We have started a series of training sessions for our customers, which helped them understand farming by applying scientific knowledge, instead of relying only on experience. We also provide them with the right tools and guide them to use these tools. In implementing the programme, we also involve stakeholders including farm technicians, farm managers, industry associations, academicians and fishery government officers.
In time, we hope to see improvement in technical knowledge of farmers and technicians. Cultivation should become easier, with better productivity and better profitability, and become a long-term business.
What has this programme achieved?
Since its launch, we have established a strong training programme designed for the Vietnamese market. We have run five sessions of the training programme with encouraging attendance by the local farmers. Through the training sessions, Blue Aqua has helped build knowledge among shrimp farmers by providing standard operating procedures (SOP) for different situations and providing technical support for the Only One programme.
What new innovations can we expect from the Only One programme?
We will be developing a communication tool to allow our customers to connect with us more easily to obtain advice, in order to serve them better.
In the longer run, we will apply the Only One model to other species and are looking to launch the programme in other markets. Long periods of practical experience in other shrimp-producing countries have reaped outstanding performance. We will apply these achievements to the Vietnamese shrimp industry and other industries, taking into consideration biosecurity concerns, culture techniques, disease breakthrough, experience of the farmers and overall economic condition of the country.
Which countries is Blue Aqua International focusing its activities on?
For the Asia Pacific region, we have covered the major aquaculture export countries including Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. We have a strong network and a series of exclusive marketing activities in Indonesia, India and Vietnam. In Indonesia, Blue Aqua recently concluded a successful seminar - "Aquaculture Innovation Workshop" attended by over 400 farmers and technicians from all over Indonesia.
Outside of Asia, we expanded our business in South America last year in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico. At this moment, we have a strong customer base in Ecuador and Mexico.
What is Blue Aqua's market penetration strategy?
We believe in educating our customers. Customers with well-rounded experience yet strong technical knowledge can have better farming performance and long term business. We can grow new markets, help customers to improve their productivity and profitability while doing business right. We plan to set up Blue Aqua's training centre in our main markets, including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India and countries in South America. We believe that good knowledge and proper training would help us and customers to grow the markets sustainably.
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