Internal research and development
At Nam Sai we believe that research and development is the key to improvement and innovation of all aspects of the farming system. Rather than using trial and error, Nam Sai takes a scientific approach to learning. Changes to the farming system are only made after conducting trials with replicates so as to be completely sure and confident that those changes will reduce production costs, whilst at the same time maintaining or improving quality. To carry out all this work, Nam Sai employs a large number of graduate level staff and often collaborates with companies and teaching institutions to attain research goals.
Improvements to the farming system
Aquaculture technology has improved in leaps and bounds over the last ten to twenty years. Whereas in the past tilapia culture was simply a case of stock a pond, feed them and then harvest the fish in anything up to a years’ time, we now have monosex tilapia, probiotics, vaccines, beta glucans and a whole range of additives for feed and water. Improving the farming system is a continuous process and changes in response to factors such as disease, fuel prices, the ever changing climate, availability and price of labour, materials and land. It is an ongoing objective with an ever changing goal.
Already we have seen change with regard to available feedstuffs, as more and more recycled bi-products become available in the market. The objective is to utilize more sustainable raw materials and reduce or eliminate dependence on the use of fish meal, a limited resource. Conservation of energy and the possibility of integrating oil producing crops and trees for timber within the farming system are presently important as is mechanization and more efficient use of labour. All of this development requires a dedicated group of scientists all working towards a common goal.
Hatching and larval rearing of new species
For many years now, Nam Sai has strived to diversify the species of fish we supply so at to be less reliant on income from tilapia sales and improve income. Nam Sai began selling striped catfish (Pangasius hypophthalmus) fry in 2007 and research is ongoing to try and extend the spawning season and improve larval survival of this species. In 2009, after a lengthy period of research, Nam Sai began selling barramundi fry trained to eat commercial feed. Work is continuing to improve early survival and creation of a grow-out system based on floating pelleted feed in cages. Also in the pipeline is development of a system to produce monosex female climbing perch with superior growth characteristics, since this species is becoming more popular both in Thailand and Bangladesh.
Although Nam Sai is primarily a hatchery supplying fish seed, we have been keen to start doing grow-out of market fish for a long time. This will allow us to continually assess the performance of our fish and any improvements in rearing techniques can be passed on to our customers. We already grow-out red tilapia in cages and occasionally do grow-out in ponds, with research the primary objective. We now have a number of plastic lined ponds to investigate the possibility of increasing yield per area of pond ten-fold whilst improving control of disease and flavor of fish. If successful, Nam Sai may soon become a major supplier of fish.