Retired OFW operates a huge fish farm in Pampanga and Bataan

Published January 21, 2022, 10:00 AM

by Manila Bulletin Agriculture

By Antonio G. Papa, Ph.D.

Jean Gonzales, a 49 year-old retired Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) has spent almost half 

her life working overseas. Because of the pandemic, she and her husband, a Chinese-Canadian national, decided to retire from their jobs in Hong Kong and settle in Indang, Cavite. Their only son, who was studying in the US, moved with them as well. 

Jean’s best friend introduced her to a lessee of a 45-hectare fish farm located in between Lubao, Pampanga and Orani, Bataan, who was looking for someone to take over their lease and operations. 

This is how the successful businesswoman became an instant fish farmer. 

Jean Gonzales, owner of Jam Dynasty Fish Farm in Pampanga and Bataan, and Barrio Lejos Resto Bar in Indang, Cavite.

Jean named her aquaculture operation Jam Dynasty Fish Farm. She hired 10 security personnel to secure the farm – both its water and the livestock – day and night. She also employed 20 maintenance workers to operate and maintain the utilities and equipment in the fishponds and the functionality of the dikes.

During harvest time, she engages the services of 50 persons from the locality to man the draining of the fishponds and in catching the livestock, of course with the aid of fish farm equipment.

Harvesting milkfish at Jam Dynasty Fish Farm.

“We regularly do the salinity test in the fishponds to maintain the livability of our stocks and maintain the quality of our products,” said Jean.

The cropping cycle of her fish farm operations – from seeding to harvesting – lasts an average of four months.

Jean exclaimed that her “first harvest was very timely, during the holiday seasons of December 2020 and January 2021,” netting her a whopping Php7,000,000.00 net income from her first cropping.

Her fish farm yields an average of two tons of crabs, three tons of tiger prawn, four tons of vannamei shrimp, one ton of suahe shrimp, 10 tons of milk fish, and one-half ton of tilapia.

A tiger prawn from Jam Dynasty Fish Farm.

According to Jean, in addition to the above mentioned harvested stocks, there are other sea creatures that entered the fish farm which also give a good harvest. These are around one-half ton each of ayungin, bia, dilis, and igat (eel).

The harvests are exported to the Asian and the Pacific countries through the consignees who pick-up the products at farm gate price. 

A portion of the harvest is sold locally, while some are used in Jean’s newest business, the Barrio Lejos Resto Bar, a restaurant that offers a farm to table seafood menu.

The resto bar has the ambiance and elegance of the various dine in establishments in Tagaytay City, but the place is situated in the rustic rural environs of the agri-tourism town of Indang in the midland part of the Cavite province.

Jean planned the menu herself. She also hired two experienced chefs from well-known hotels in

Manila. They are supported by an assistant chef, also from Manila. The waiters and waitresses are graduates of the Hotel and Restaurant Management course of Cavite State University.

The restaurant serves seafood freshly harvested from the fish farm. To keep the restaurant’s supply constant, Jean operates a separate smaller fishpond seeded with various sea species and scheduled for harvest weekly.

“In our resto, we make sure that our customers will appreciate our menu promoting Asian fusion cuisine using ingredients from (other) Asian countries. Likewise, we follow proper safety measures to safeguard the health and wellness of our customers,” Jean said. 

Since the restaurant opened in the middle of the pandemic, it has protocols in place that adhere to current safety restrictions and standards. “We vacuum-seal our cooked seafood and all our menu in the resto and we do e-commerce. Through the social media, we market our products. Once an order has been placed, we readily deliver those to our customers. The customers will just heat the pre-cooked foods from our resto, and presto, a sumptuous meal for the family is ready.”

To cater to the group of customers who are planning to dine in the resto, Jean will be offering a boodle fight type of serving. Jean said, she will make sure that the components of the food for this purpose will all be healthy and delicious.

At present, Jean is starting to process her seafood products from her fish farm. The two available processed products are shredded shrimps with chili and processed crab eggs and fat. She also serves dried fish from her fish farms in the resto .

Jean is proud of creating jobs for the residents where her businesses are established, especially during a time when many people have been left at a disadvantage due to the pandemic.

Contact Jean Gonzales at 0917 134 6745 and [email protected].

Photos courtesy of Jean Gonzales

 
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