Thais thank Emperor for introducing tilapia

Jiji Press

Tilapia farmer Natsuda Janbangyang grills the fish in Krathum Baen, Thailand, on Wednesday.

Jiji Press KRATHUM BAEN, Thailand (Jiji Press) — Many people in Thailand feel sad about the Emperor stepping down on April 30, 2019.

They remember that the Emperor, an ichthyologist, introduced tilapia as the best fish for farming in the Southeast Asian country at a meeting with late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1964, when he was the crown prince. At that time, Thailand was suffering from a food shortage.

After returning home from the visit to Thailand, he sent 50 tilapia to King Bhumibol. The king bred them and increased the number of the fish to 10,000.

Since then, the fish has become an essential foodstuff for the Thai people. Now, tilapia are shipped overseas as well as to the domestic market, supporting the Thai economy.

Natsuda Janbangyang, 29, who runs a tilapia farm in Krathum Baen, Samut Sakhon Province, central Thailand, said that she was surprised to know the Emperor will abdicate.

“I’m very grateful about [the Emperor] introducing the fish,” she said in Japanese. “Tilapia best suit the climate of Thailand.”

Her farm had been cultivating shrimps but switched to tilapia in 2013.

Shrimps easily caught diseases, making the farm’s management unstable, according to her.

She has developed many methods to grow the fish bigger, including blending banana into their feeds. As a result, one-centimeter-long baby tilapia become one-kilogram adults with thick meat in a half year.

Capitalizing on know-how Natsuda obtained during a 11-month training on product processing she took at a farm in Matsukawa, Nagano Prefecture in 2010, she has improved earnings in the tilapia business by selling the fish not in the wholesale market but to consumers directly after processing them.

The farm’s tilapia products, including steamed, flavored and dried ones, sell for around 150 baht each, allowing her to earn 7,000 baht per weekday and 15,000 baht per weekend.

“Everyone in Thailand loves tilapia,” said Natsuda. “They’re easy to farm and match Thai food,” she emphasized while repeatedly expressing her gratitude for the Emperor.Speech

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