The Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture project was launched at the beginning of March 2017 and this enterprise will provide an opportunity for sustainable shrimp farming in Grenada. In a recent interview with the Director, Leo Francis Ford and the Senior Construction and Operations Manager, Manfred Soeffing; they explained that the decision to invest in Grenada was trifold.
Firstly, their knowledge and experience of living and doing business in the Caribbean islands for over thirty years encouraged them evaluate where it would be easy to do business. Grenada was one of the friendliest Islands with regards to not only its people whose work ethic is amazing but the willingness of the government to collaborate with potential investors. “Working with Minister of Forestry and Fisheries Honourable Minister Alvin Da Breo enabled the investors to launch the project with ease”; Leo Ford said, “We have confidence that we can create a business that will benefit the economy and community at large. Grenada is a country with a lot of potential, business opportunities and very few obstacles to trade. “
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by a number of investors and dignitaries including the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister of Grenada. The Minister of Tourism; the Honourable Clarice Modeste-Curwen expressed her delight at having this project in her constituency as St Mark used to be a hub with six estates around Victoria producing crops that were the pillars of the economy like cocoa, nutmeg and bananas. There were stores that sold a variety of commodities and people from other parts of the Island would come to St Marks to buy.
The decision to locate the project in Northern Grenada in St Mark's Parish was strategic, there is the highest unemployment rate on the island and because the shrimp will be grown in a phased or staggered approach, the employment possibilities will not be seasonal but ongoing.
Secondly, this Aquaculture project requires plenty of fresh water and at the site where the project was launched access to fresh water is not an issue. The vision is to build a Recirculating Aquaculture System, also known as Zero Water System or RAS to produce natural shrimp, with an exquisite flavour, using no antibiotics or chemicals. Mr Manfred Soeffing explained, “Although salt water is used in the tanks, there is still a need to top up with fresh water and the water is recycled and reused. The zero water system means that there is a 1% loss of water daily due to evaporation or spillage. Fortunately, the species of Jumbo, Extra Jumbo and Colossal Shrimp being produced can live in very low salinity.”
Thirdly, the environmentally friendly approach to aquaculture can offer significant economic growth in a new industry that will diversify the economy. The location is perfect because there is no need to install immersion heaters and or air conditioning as temperatures never gets too high or too low to impact the Shrimp and the climate is perfect making it easy to maintain an optimum temperature. The sun is another advantage the installation of solar panels will create yet another source of energy reducing high overheads from production. The sun also helps with the micro algae that is needed and is very important for the bio flock in the water tanks where the shrimp are grown. Grenada also has a large airport and its location and proximity to the USA makes it idea as most of the export of the finished product will be to the USA.
GSA’s Corporate Social Responsibility vision is to assist the Minister of Culture’s Honourable Senator Brenda Hood by building a training center for the Grenada's Co-operatives projects. The Ministry recently organised training workshops for women to learn how to fabric paint and produce unique products such as Batik cushions, table clothes T-shirts and clothing. This is part of the Ministries initiatives to create employment for the community. The training center will educate people in the community in a variety of skills and enable them to produce goods that can be sold locally and abroad taking full advantage of the tourism industry in the region.
“The giving philosophy I apply to business” said Mr Leo Ford, “was developed when I worked in the insurance industry where part of the interview process the company I worked for assessed if potential new employees understood that if you give you will receive. This made a profound impact on me and I try to apply it to everything I do in business.”
Mr Manfred Soeffing explained that he derived the greatest pleasure when he succeeded in imparting some of his business knowledge, skills and processes to his employees. “Training people to be better craftsmen and to learn more efficient and effective workplace practices energizes me. And tapping into the human potential inspires me," he said. “Giving is crucial for the future of humanity because the popularization between the have and the have-nots in society is getting bigger around the world and unemployment leads to drugs which lead to crime and every corporation needs to have a social conscience.”
The vision and goal for this project is that at maturity the organisation will create a blueprint that can be replicated throughout the Caribbean and substantially contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Grenada while creating more than 400 new local jobs.
Click here to find out more about the Grenada Sustainable Aquaculture Project