The enterprising fry dealers
By Roberto Garcia
MANY in the bangus and shrimp growing industry must have encountered the so-called “ahente” or dealers who supply the required fry or fingerling to pond operators usually at a higher cost than at farm gate price.
This business is highly competitive in that many engage in it because of the minimal capital required and depends more on good public relations, keen business acumen, and personal trust.
Some fish farmers engage the services of such middlemen because they neither have the time, energy nor technical skills to procure, transport, or grow fry or fingerling for stocking in their ponds, especially if a big volume is needed. Unfortunately some of these dealers have been known to have deceived their customers by shortfall in fish count, contamination with other species, inclusion of weak or dying fish, or unreasonable price of stock. Nevertheless, the growers usually patronize the reliable or reputable dealers and shun the ‘cheaters’ as they are known in the industry.
So how is the business of dealing fry or fingerling?
The dealers usually get their fry or fingerling stock from the hatcheries or fingerling ponds, usually at a lower price perhaps because of their ‘special’ business relationship with the operators of the facility. The stock is then counted, bagged, oxygenated and sealed. They then arrange for the transport and stocking of the fish into the client’s ponds. At the pond site, the fish is carefully placed in the pond water with, or sometimes without, the proper temperature and salinity acclimation process. In some cases, the pond operator checks the fish count by sampling the bags randomly before they are stocked. Usually there is a certain quantity of fish added to the original count to compensate for the weak or dead fish. Thereafter, the dealer is paid after a satisfactory delivery of the stock.
The fry and fingerling dealers play a vital role in the success of the bangus/shrimp industry in Pangasinan by accessing, facilitating, and ensuring the supply of fry and/or fingerlings to the fish growers. So in a sense, they are indispensable to the industry.