An economic analysis of tilapia production by small-scale farmers in rural Honduras

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Kurbis, Gordon Allan
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In Honduras, Central America, aquaculture as practiced by small-scale farmers can be characterized as having experienced mixed success at best. Yields are poor and well below potential yields indicated by field trials. In order to improve yields through public policy regarding extension practices and input availability where applicable, knowledge of aquacultural production must be improved. This analysis uses primary data collected by the author to obtain econometric estimates of a production function for the aquaculture technology used by small-scale farmers. Factor elasticities and returns to scale were estimated, as were coefficients for various qualitative factors captured by dummy variables. The results of this analysis recommend changes to public policy to improve yields for existing ponds and identify circumstances where yields can be improved for future ponds. Recommend tions include the following changes in extension practices. First, lower-cost, mixed-sex aquaculture technology should be promoted in favour of other production methods. Second, fishponds using non-mixed sex production methods should be located in proximity to existing sources of seed fish. Third, efforts should be redoubled to improve pond management skill, which was found to be strongly correlated with yields. Finally, return on investment in small-scale aquaculture was estimated and found to be positive under some circumstances; however, poor success rates and other anecdotal evidence presented in the analysis suggest a need for further research to assess whether aquaculture extension is an appropriate use of scarce development and public sector resources.