Marshall Islands embarks on feed production and aquaculture

RMI will soon be a step closer to food security with locally produced, high quality and affordable animal and aquafeeds
September 4, 2012

Almo Momotaro, Chairman RMI Ports Authority (center) shows Dr. Warren Dominy, Director Feed & Nutrition, Oceanic Institute (L) and Hon. James Matayoshi (P) locally caught at kadu

A team of experts from Honolulu was recently in Majuro to assess the requirements for producing locally made feeds for chicken, ducks, pigs, fish and shrimp as a first step toward ramping up aquaculture and livestock production in RMI. Dr. Warren Dominy, Director Feed and Nutrition, Oceanic Institute, Hawai’i, said that while chicken and fish farming ventures had been tried in RMI before, they had not been sustainable because of the cost of feed. 

“Feed represents the single largest cost to the farmer - and for island communities prices are particularly high because of shipping”, he explained. “Feed is the foundation of all animal production, both on land and in the water”, Dr. Dominy said. “The cost of feed is what puts farmers out of business”.

The visit was organized and co-ordinated by Mr. Lanny Kabua, Ministry of Resources and Development and Honorable James Matayoshi, Mayor of Rongelap from the Marshall Islands. Mike Kauhane from Pacific Financial Solutions in Honolulu provided project development services in Hawai’i. Dr. Dominy and the team  met with local and national government agencies and private businesses and are encouraged by the level of support for the project. “Everyone recognizes the need for RMI to produce more of its own food, to cut imports and to create long term jobs”, he said. 

“Ambassador George Li of the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has been a long time supporter of livestock production in RMI and was enthusiastic about the possibility of feed availability”.

The team has been looking at local crops as potential feed ingredient sources, as well as equipment and potential sites to locate a feedmill. Another member of the team, aquaculture feed consultant and proprietor of, Suzi Dominy, said the RMI was better placed than many Pacific island communities in having the major feed components available. “Copra and fishmeal are right here”, she said, “and there are several options for providing starch, which is the other major ingredient”.

Mr. Ryan Murashige, president and CEO Hukilau Foods Inc, Hawai’i,  has been helping the group to assess the requirements for raising moi and rabbit fish in Majuro atoll. Mr. Murashige is an expert in both moi hatchery and grow-out operations; his company successfully produced the highly sought after fish in submerged deep-ocean cages – the first of their kind in U.S. waters.

A group from RMI, sponsored by College of the Marshall Islands Land Grant and Rongelap Atoll Local Government has just returned from Hawai’i where they attended a Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA) funded marine fish hatchery course at the Oceanic Institute. The intensive training workshop was focused on the Pacific Treadfin fish, known in Hawaii as Moi and to Marshallese as At Kadu.

“Feed production is set to begin in the next few weeks”, Mayor Matayoshi said, “but this is just a start. Once we meet the existing feed requirements of local farmers, production will be ramped up for the planned fish farms in our atolls and for expanded livestock production”. 

"In the next couple of months, the delivery of eggs is expected to arrive in Majuro to be hatched and placed in nursery tanks for about two months before being transferred to sea cages on a trial run", he said.

“Our long term vision is to make RMI the center of both feed and fish production for the entire Pacific”, Mayor Matayoshi said.