SMALLholder tilapia farmers from the Western Division are working together in a cluster program that brings together competitors to improve production.
A collaborative effort of the Secretariat of the South Pacific, the EU and the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, has brought together farmers to improve their economies of scale and increase their bargaining power of inputs such as fish feed or hatchery seed supply.
According to SPC, over a dozen farmers are part of the cluster groups that have been formed in the Western and Central divisions through the efforts of SPC's Fisheries Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems division, the EU-funded Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project in consultation with the relevant government agencies.
SPC cluster aquaculture team member Jone Varawa said the production of tilapia had increased both in the two regions.
"The production of the tilapia by participating farmers in the Central Division cluster in 2013 to 2014 period has doubled in comparison with the 2011 to 2012 period prior to the IACT project intervention," he said.
"Production for the Western Division is also expected to increase significantly."
He said in a cluster model, some farmers may ultimately choose to specialise in one aspect of the fish custody chain such as in hatchery production, fingerling nursery or feed manufacture.
Mr Varawa said other farmers then "cluster" around these nodes of aquaculture services and were able to concentrate their own efforts purely on fish grow-out.
An example of the successful implementation of the program was a farmer in Tunalia, Nadi.
Mr Varawa said the farmer was producing all male tilapia fingerlings by the more advanced incubator hatchery technique and any surplus of tilapia fingerlings beyond the farm's requirements were now offered for sale to other tilapia farmers.