Nam Sai’s core nucleus, consisting of a number of hatchery farm facilities working in unison, is located in Ban Sang district of Prachinburi province, approximately 90 km due East of Bangkok
The story began in 1994, when Warren Andrew Turner, the founder of Nam Sai Farms, was working on research, development and extension of monosex tilapia mass production technology under Dr. David Little (the creator of modern day, hapa-based tilapia hatchery systems) at the Asian Insititute of Technology (A.I.T.), Bangkok. Being fanatic about fish since childhood, having an MSc in aquaculture from Stirling University, Scotland and an ability to speak the Thai language (having previously been a VSO volunteer in Thailand), Warren decided to embark on the challenge of a lifetime. To help him achieve it was his fiancé Bu and a couple of Thai partners, called Pramot and Worapot, who became lifetime friends. Prachinburi province, due east of Bangkok, was chosen as the ideal site due to good water supply and the close vicinity of major markets. Bu came up with the name Nam Sai, which translates as clear water, and the rest is history.
Development of the company
The company was established in 1994 and the original plan was to produce two million high-quality, mono-sex tilapia fry to supply the Thai fish farming industry. Utilizing a process of egg collection, incubation and sex reversal of swim-up fry in hapas for 21 days using methyltestosterone-impregnated feed, enabled male yields up to 100% on a regular basis. Early research at A.I.T. showed that fish produced by this technique are physically male for life, have normal levels of sex hormones and are perfectly safe to eat. Tilapia suddenly became a hugely popular species, as culture periods were almost cut in half, food conversion ratios drastically reduced and a harvest of large, even-sized individuals, not possible using mixed sex fish, was now a reality. The response from Thai fish farmers was overwhelming and Nam Sai began a steady process of expansion, driven by this high demand for fry which continues to this day.
The development of Nam Sai Farms began with construction of a 10 hectare farm on a rented piece of land in 1994. It wasn’t long before further land was acquired as the company expanded production to suit rising demand. Continual refinement and systemization of the rearing processes involved was undertaken and development of management systems that made large expansion possible without compromising quality. During this period the Nam Sai brand image began to emerge based on the farmer’s conception of quality and ability of Nam Sai to supply vast numbers of fish at competitive prices.
Another milestone in Nam Sai’s development involved obtaining and developing new strains of tilapia that were strong, disease resistant, had good body shape, color and fast growth. All production was initially based on the Chitralada strain of Nile tilapia introduced from A.I.T., but in 1997 the GIFT tilapia was introduced, followed by two strains of red tilapia in 2001 and Big Nin in 2005. Providing a wide variety of choice has been one of the keys to satisfying the varying demands of farmers. Each strain has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course producing many strains of tilapia presents its own difficulties for the hatchery and Nam Sai is presently working on producing a single strain of Nile and red tilapia that not only grows fast, but is also very disease-resistant and handling-tolerant in order to suit all farmers.
Nam Sai has for some time endeavored to make fish more easily available to farmers nationwide and overseas. To achieve this, Nam Sai has developed a franchise-type of model in which tilapia hatchlings and feed are supplied to branches located in farming areas. The first experimental branch opened in Nakhon Pathom province in March 2005 and has been very successful. Nam Sai was able to maintain quality at this branch and more branches have been developed since based on this business model. A further development was the establishment of a joint venture hatchery in Mymensingh, Bangladesh in 2010. This company, named Spectra-Hexa-Nam Sai, has already undergone considerable expansion and plans are now in place to establish a second hatchery in Narail to cope with the high demand for fry in this part of the country.
Although monosex tilapia is the main product of Nam Sai, we now also produce striped catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus), triploid climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) and barramundi (Lates calcarifer) fry. We also produce and sell aquaculture equipment through our joint venture company Baan Pramong (www.farmaqua.com). This company complements Nam Sai in the export of fish fry by also providing consultancy and training courses in the form of a full support package.
All of this development has only been possible with considerable research. As a natural progression, Nam Sai began to take on contract research for other companies and institutions in 2006 and this now forms a growing aspect of our business. Professional, commercial research at friendly prices is the attraction to companies keen to prove the worth of their products. Successful trial results are a useful marketing tool and an invaluable aid in how best to apply these products.
Development of a company is a combination of the culmination of research, circumstance, finances, meeting the right people and having staff available to do the job. Although Nam Sai will continue to strive to move in the right direction, only time will tell in what form and where the company develops in the future.