Crazy Town, Crazy Island – Visit to the fish farm

We finally reached open country; at least as close as you get driving along the coast road in Haiti.  There were still many villages and the road was serviced with markets, stalls, fuel stations and other bric-a-brac.  We turned off down a series of short tracks to end at a large iron gate.  We waited for a few moments while our government colleagues went inside to check on our arrival.   Next to the compound was a small concrete guardhouse, and stacked up a coconut palm trunk were several examples of Creole art.  Considering how we were at the end of a cul de sac in amongst the deepest countryside, I wondered how they expected to sell anything at this location.  But I did not have too long to consider this as we were then greeted by a quietly spoken American man.  This was an American funded Christian mission, but this guy, with a series of other co-workers and volunteers, had established a self sustaining farm.  He guided us past the pigs and chicken sheds through to the fish farm.  It was devastatingly clever.  They were growing tilapia here, or Nile perch.  These fish are commonly used in development science as an easy to keep, high protein, transferable stock in fish farming, although they have caused some problems if released into the wild where their aggressive reproduction has squeezed out natives.

Here in the confines of the concrete tanks, they were part of a big system.  A nearby spring had been tapped and its water poured into the first large earth tank.  Slurry from the chicken shed was piped a few metres down into the tank, which turned the water into a thick green algal rich soup.  This water was then fed downhill into about a dozen more concrete tanks – and tilapia at various stages from nursery to fully grown fish were happily swimming around in the water feeding off the nutrients from the farm.

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