This program provides teaching, research and extension assistance to small farmers operating small-scale aquaculture farms, which utilize natural water bodies to contribute to food production. Thus the program supports the development of the aquaculture industry and the economy of Florida. A specific objective was to bring together production, economic and marketing specialists in integrated demonstration of projects to optimize production systems (ponds, tanks, raceways cages and hybrid systems), spawning and hatchery techniques, microencapsulated feeds, batch plankton culture procedures, preventive aquatic animal health practices and product value. The program addresses problems/needs of small, limited resource and economically disadvantaged farmers and facilitates cooperation of specialists and county agents in finding solutions to various challenges encountered in the industry. Initially the project involved ten (10) existing and new farmers in counties within a one hundred (100) mile radius. Farmers currently growing fish and those interested in growing fish, with or without ownership of existing water bodies, were identified. The project began in July 2006 at FAMU Research and Extension Center, Quincy, Florida, where there are ponds; and it provided classroom and hands-on training and a farm visit was made with each farmer. A training curriculum was developed with modules and information used for the instruction. Fourteen farmers were trained on the best management practices and alternative methods for improvement of production systems for fish (e.g. Bait fish and Sturgeon). Marketing strategies were addressed to sustain the increased production of fish and profitability. Four ponds were revitalized and once per week pH, temperature, depth and dissolved oxygen data were collected as the ponds stabilized. Brochures were developed to support development of small scale enterprises, production of fmgerlings and utilization of existing natural resources and reduction of specialized inputs.


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