We'd like to congratulate our partner farm Piscícola El Rosario for attaining Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification on August 19th and reaching a milestone in their journey to sustainability.
Piscícola El Rosario is located in the Central Northwest region of Colombia in a region known as Antioquia, a mountainous territory with ideal valleys for tilapia production. They began their production operation in 2009 as part of a project initiated by a group of Colombian businessmen with interest in investing in vulnerable regions of the country.
Piscícola El Rosario's mission is the well-being of their workers, the betterment of their quality of life and to treat them well to make them better Colombian citizens.
Historically, armed conflict int he region forced Colombian citizens to take on jobs connected to illicit activities. El Rosario's farming project has created a very positive impact and has contributed to the strengthening of the local economy by creating jobs, development of supplies, products and services. Overall, El Rosario has helped in the reestablishment of human rights, such as the right to safe and dignified work, health and education.
El Rosario farm utilizes raceways and all stages in the production process are monitored and compliant under the stringent BAP standards. They verify that their formulated feed exclusively contains ingredients from sustainable sources and complies with nutrient requirements for farmed tilapia while minimizing their impact on the environment. El Rosario's FIFO ratio is zero.
Camilo Arteaga, General Manager at Piscícola El Rosario said that it is very gratifying to be part of a select group of producers certified under the BAP standard, as it "represents a guarantee for our customers, nearby communities, workers, local authorities and shareholders that our production is conducted in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner and meets all standard requirements that overall benefit the final consumer".
Piscícola El Rosario was incorporated into Tropical's tilapia cooperative in 2012 as part of the company's strategy to continuously grow. By including El Rosario to our cooperative of farmers and processors, we are able to be geographically diverse and maintain continuity of supply, despite unexpected obstacles or delays, such as weather or transportation issues.
El Rosario's next endeavor toward sustainability is to attain BAP certification at the plant by 2014. Their modern processing plant is strategically located in conjunction with the farming facilities, which makes it possible to harvest the fish, process it and pack it, all within 30 minutes.
Have you ever wondered what it's like to master the art of trimming and filleting? Everyday, workers at our processing plants work vigorously to process and pack the fresh fish that you receive every day.
In order to meet our tilapia demand while maintaining quality and consistency; the Tropical Packing group in Ecuador established "La Escuelita" [The Little School] in 2009, a training academy for tilapia processing.
"La Escuelita" was created with a focus "to motivate our plant workers to master filleting and trimming techniques by providing them with a place for skill practice and improvement", said Shirley Santos, Administrative Manager at the academy. Students at "La Escuelita" are instructed on how to perform key and specialized techniques on the production floor.
The program consists of a two-month training period and can accommodate up to 20 students per class. Both, internal workers and external candidates can apply to "La Escuelita". Upon successful completion of the program, graduates have to opportunity to earn a better income when working on the tilapia-processing floor.
The program is composed of 4 stages:
- Selection Process
- Training on Basic Techniques and Concepts
- Perfecting the Technique
- Final Grading and Graduation
Once admitted into "La Escuelita", hands-on training on basic techniques and concepts begins. Students are assigned a working station where they are instructed step by step on filleting and trimming techniques of various product specifications. They're trained on:
Types of Cuts (trimming and filleting)
- Yield and Quality
- Correct Tool Handling
This makes up 70% of the overall training on basic techniques and concepts. The remaining 30% of training in stage 2 is complementary theoretical training on:
- Internal Labor Guidelines
- Quality and Production Control
- Compliance with Certification Standards
- Health and Personal Wellness
- Importance of Communication and Teamwork
In Stage 3, students master the already practiced techniques and guidelines by putting them to practice directly on the processing floor. To measure progress, consistency and improvements, all students are evaluated on a weekly basis throughout all stages of training.
Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are assigned to work with either the filleting or trimming production team. Each graduate undergoes a training follow-up within a month of graduating from the program to reinforce all knowledge. In addition, ongoing evaluations on yield, productivity and quality of their work occur on a monthly basis.
Enrolling in "La Escuelita" provides graduates with knowledge on processing procedures, quality standards, food safety and personal well-being. In addition, specialized training gives our plant workers "a sense of belonging and commitment to the company in regard to compliance with product specifications", commented Ines Chiriboga, Quality Manager at Tropack.