Friday, June 2, 2017

Nabeyama Aquaculture Ensuring Food Security with Aquaculture

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Nabeyama Aquaculture is located in Lalou of Ngatpang State in the Republic of Palau. Owned and managed by Rubeang Hiromi Nabeyama and his children. Mr. Nabeyama demonstrated his determination in aquaculture by opening his own farm business growing milkfish (Aol), mangrove crab (Chemang), two species of rabbitfish (Klsebuul and Meas), and various species of giant clams (Kim). The newly opened farm is conveniently along the Compact Road on the Eastern coast of Babeldaob. Nabeyama began with giant clam farm over a decade ago. Later on, Nabeyama got into mangrove crab farming. In 2016, Nabeyama furthered his interest in aquaculture by participating in trips with the Ngerdubch Corporation to the Philippines to learn more about fish farming. Nabeyama Aquaculture is now in full operation, with stocks of rabbitfish, mangrove crabs, and giant clams being raised on the farm. The farm also conducted tours for elementary school students during the recent Educational Awareness Week in March; tours are also available for locals and tourists alike.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
In the interview, Mr. Nabeyama states that “merael mo diak a ngikel,” which means the fish are decreasing. His vision is to ensure food security for Palau with local favorites through aquaculture—harvesting raised fish and leaving the wild fish stock time to recover. His plan is to raise fish sustainably, sell them at competitive prices, provide healthy food choices, and contribute to research in Palau’s aquaculture. Nabeyama plans to add a local species of shrimp to his farm.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
Over 10 years ago, Mr. Nabeyama planted his roots in aquaculture through giant clam farming. After that, Nabeyama added mangrove crabs to his repertoire. More recently, he attended field trips to the Philippines with the Ngerdubch Corporation to learn more about fish farming and aquaculture. The small, commercial-scale farm is a direct result of Nabeyama’s participation in Palau’s aquaculture industry and the agriculture/aquaculture loan packages available at the National Development Bank of Palau.

How did the Small Business Development Center help you?
Palau SBDC helped Nabeyama with his aquaculture loan application package at National Development Bank of Palau. The Center helped him develop realistic financial projections for business plan for his farm, Nabeyama Aquaculture.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
Nabeyama Aquaculture was started initial with personal investments by Mr. Nabeyama. With the help of an unsecured loan from NDPB, Nabeyama was able to push the project forward when funds were low. His investment in the farm includes the land (both used as collateral and used as the farm), personal funds, and a lot of help from his family. The success of the project will also be funded by the proceeds from the aquaculture loan Mr. Nabeyama secured from NDBP, that will be used to purchase fish stocks and feed, and to help progress the project closer towards full capacity.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced during the pre-development and start-up process?
There were many challenges along the way, including developing the land into its current state. The pre-development process took about six months in which the part of the adjacent mangrove forest was cleared and the two fishponds were excavated. Another hurdle in the process was the length of time and cost of obtaining an Environmental Assessment (EA), as a requirement for the Environmental Quality Protection permit.
During this pre-development process, Mr. Nabeyama invested a lot of his time, personal funds, and effort into the farm. Nabeyama’s children also spent a lot of time and effort helping in the farm development.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
Nabeyama plans to expand his farm north along the coastal edge of his property. Additional ponds will be excavated, then stocked with more fish, crabs, and shrimp to meet the anticipated demand for locally produced seafood products. Nabeyama also plans to include tours of the farm as an aqua-tourism activity to experience a different marine ecosystem and habitat. Visitors will be able to purchase freshly harvested fish or enjoy hot meals made with the products from the farm.

What advice would you give to others who want to start an aquaculture farm in Palau?
First of all it requires a lot of knowledge in the various species, systems, and nature itself. Workers, and farm owners, require training to understand feeding and maintenance of species. An understanding of the tides and tidal effects on the ponds and fish are equally important, as this may vary with time and place. Business owners must understand the importance of EQPB (Environmental Quality Protection) permits and be aware of the costs of obtaining such permits. Lastly, State Governments need to do its part in identifying areas suitable for aquaculture and enabling individuals or business to conduct much needed economic activities through proper legislations, such as reclassifying areas for aquaculture.

Nabeyama Aquaculture is located in Ngimis, Ngatpang open daily from 7:30am - 4:30pm. For more information on their services, they can be reached at 680-535-1045.