By Kadeem Joseph
Seven years of research and work, personal savings and assistance from family has helped an Antiguan and Barbudan to create the country’s first freshwater prawns and crayfish farm.
For Kevin Alexander, the owner of Sea Springs Aquafarm, this jump into entrepreneurship is not just seen as a means of financial gain, but an acknowledgement that the world’s vast oceans cannot sustain its population’s demand for seafood.
“A lot of the seafood that we eat today are farmed; you could look at bags of shrimp, tuna, salmon and you will see a majority of them saying farm raised,” he explained. “The ocean stock of fish is depleting slowly but surely and we need to get more people into fish farming or aquaculture where they can raise fresh fish, prawns, lobster, you name it.”
Alexander explained that the idea for the farm was born out of a “casual conversation” about the products that Antigua and Barbuda produced years ago. He recalled that attempts were made to run a shrimp farm in Seatons years prior, a memory that would trigger his curiosity into the prospect of farming these crustaceans in tanks.
“At that same moment a light bulb went off and I immediately turned around and googled ‘growing fish in tanks’ and all the information was there,” he explained, noting that he spent months researching the best species for farming in Antigua and Barbuda.
Alexander also believes that this venture could help to reduce the country’s import bill. He explained that, based on the statistics he received back in 2016, the country was importing up to 120,000 pounds of shrimp per year.
“As it stands, we take in and we don’t give back out and if I can cut down on the amount of shrimp that we import into Antigua then that money is able to circulate back in the economy,” he said.
The entrepreneur is hopeful that the business would not only be able to help service local demands for the produce, but export territories in the region and further afield as well.
Alexander is also grateful that he was able to develop the farm in Lightfoot, taking advantage of natural springs in the area to avoid being negatively impacted by the country’s water woes.
The business began selling the product to residents two weeks ago, with three active ponds and another five inactive.
The species of prawns being cultivated is physically the largest in the world and Alexander is excited to have residents experience the produce and hopes in short order schoolchildren and others will be able to tour the facility to see the strides made thus far.