La cachama, la “vedette” de la piscicultura

Rápido crecimiento, fácil cultivo, tolerancia a altas densidades de carga, y poco exigencia en cuanto a la calidad de agua, son las bondades que hacen de la cachama la “vedette”, o la estrella, de la piscicultura venezolana.

Sirlene Araujo

Venezuela — así como en la siembra del ajonjolí o la tilapia— fue el país pionero en el cultivo de la cachama, en América Latina. Los ensayos en reproducción comenzaron a mediados de la década los años 70, coincidencialmente con Colombia y Perú.

Para 2009, según la FAO, en el país existen unas 140 granjas registradas para un espejo de agua de 195 hectáreas, distribuidas a lo largo de todas las áreas continentales con temperaturas entre los 24 – 30 grados centígrados. Las densidades de siembra más utilizadas son las de un pez por metro cuadrado para cultivos semintensivos, y de 22 a 30 peces por metro cúbico en jaulas flotantes.

La FAO señala además, según cifras oficiales publicadas por Inapesca  que la producción de este rubro creció alrededor de un 260%, al pasar de 1.920 toneladas métricas (TM) en 1998 a 5.000 toneladas en el 2004.

El ente oficial que regula la pesquería en el país (ahora Insopesca), tiene una mora desde el 2006  en materia de estadísticas acuícolas.

De acuerdo con la data de Fedeagro, el principal gremio del agro del país, la producción de cachama se ubicó en 1.500 toneladas en 2015, último año que tienen disponible. Estos números se basan en la memoria y cuenta del Ministerio de Agricultura.

Eugenio García, gerente general de Aquacría —una de las empresas fundadoras de la acuicultura nacional— afirma que “Venezuela tiene las mejores condiciones para trabajar en jaulas porque no hay huracanes. Además, contamos con alrededor de 560 mil hectáreas de ríos y lagunas que hacen factible el cultivo de peces”.

García acota que “aunque hemos sido pionero en todo en el ramo, nos hemos quedado en el aparato, ya que ahora es que se están introduciendo las tecnologías para el manejo”.

La cachama tiene la ventaja de que puede ser cultivado desde un pequeño a gran productor, ya que se puede usar cualquier cuerpo de agua cerrado disponible (lagunas, embalses, etc.).

“Tenemos una gran variedad íctica con un gran potencial acuícola, como el coporo, el bagre, la palometa, surapire, busco la guitarrilla o bocachico”, aseguró García, quien plantea como  alternativa para la alimentación de las cachamas integrarlas con otros sistemas productivos.

“En este tipo de aprovechamiento los pollos muertos son empleados para alimentar a las cachamas y de esta forma se reducen los costos de producción. “Éstos peces se comen todo el animal desde la piel hasta las¡ última pluma”. Mientras que el agua donde están las cachamas se usa para regar los cítricos, ya que es rica en nutrientes”, explicó.

El investigador de la Universidad Nacional Experimental de los Llanos Occidentales “Ezequiel Zamora”, Programa de Ciencias del Agro y del Mar, Otto Castillo, reseña que a partir del 2000 el cultivo de cachama y principalmente del híbrido cachamoto Colossoma macropomum X Piaractus brachypomus, se constituye en el rubro de mayor producción piscícola en Venezuela, seguido por la tilapia o pargo rosado Oreochromis spp. y la trucha arcoiris Oncorhynchus mykiss; esta tendencia se mantuvo hasta el año 2006 (año hasta el cual disponemos de estadísticas oficiales), aunque con caídas significativas en la producción a partir del año 2002.

“Muchos productores consideran que las tilapias tiene mayor potencial para la exportación y un mercado más amplio que el de las cachamas, pero no dejan de reconocer que estás últimas tiene un mercado natural que está en franco crecimiento y con inmensas posibilidades de un mejoramiento postcosecha; sin embargo, el cultivo de las cachamas presenta ciertas ventajas en relación a las tilapias, que son precisamente las que han permitido que se incremente el cultivo de estas en los últimos años, hasta convertirse en el segundo rubro de producción acuícola del país después de los camarones penéidos”.

Al respecto, Castillo señala las siguientes ventajas: “soportan bajos niveles de oxígeno, por poseer un mecanismo bucal que les permite tomar oxígeno en la superficie en momentos críticos, lo cual sirve de alerta al piscicultor, permitiéndole corregir el problema a tiempo; las cachamas crece más rápido y alcanza tallas superiores a las tilapias en menor tiempo; con densidades de 0,8 ejemplares/m2en sistemas semi-intensivos, se puede mantener todo el ciclo de cultivo sin recambio de agua; tiene menor costo de alimentación, ya que requiriere menores porcentajes de proteínas; no se reproduce en cautiverio, por lo cual que no presenta problemas de sobrepoblación en los estanques, ni hay que hacer ningún tipo de reversión sexual; mortalidad muy bajas durante el engorde (3%-8%); no presenta problemas de comportamiento interespecífico, como territorialismo, que afectan negativamente el cultivo; tecnología de cultivo de bajo nivel, abaratando los costos de producción, por no tener que hacer preengordes, ni transferencias en el ciclo de producción; y las cachamas puras no presenta riesgos ecológicos por escape, no así el híbrido, cuya hembra es fértil”.

Castillo recuerda que la cachamicultura en Venezuela se incrementó significativamente estimándose para 1999 un aumento de 75% respecto a 1995, “por el cambio de rubro que realizaron algunos productores de tilapias prefiriendo las cachamas. Para 1994 existían unas 38 unidades de producción de cachamas con alrededor de 90 hectáreas de espejo de agua. Para el 2000 se tenían 140 granjas registradas para un espejo de agua de 195 hectáreas. Básicamente existen dos modalidades de cultivo en el país: los cultivos en estanques de tierra, que es el más utilizado en los estados Táchira, Barinas, Portuguesa, Cojedes y Apure, y los cultivos en jaulas bajo diferentes modalidades, utilizados en algunos embalses de la región de Guayana y en la represa Pao-La Balsa, del estado Cojedes. Las densidades de siembra oscilan entre 0,5 y 1 pez/m2 para los estanques, y de 20 a 30 peces/mpara las jaulas flotantes, con ciclos que van desde los 7 meses hasta un año”.

 

“Por muchos años la producción de alevines ha representado una seria limitante para el cultivo de las cachamas en Venezuela, puesto que la demanda nacional siempre ha sido muy superior a la oferta. Para 1999 se disponía de un total de 15 centros de producción oficiales y 6 privados, distribuidos en 12 entidades federales, con una producción de 2.600.000 alevines. La mayor producción de alevines (70%) corresponde principalmente al híbrido cachamoto Colossoma macropomum X Piaractus brachypomus, ya que las centros productores de cachamas han orientado casi toda su producción hacia éste, por su crecimiento rápido y gran aceptación en el mercado, y con el que se han logrado ciclos de cultivo de 7 a 10 meses con pesos promedios de hasta 1,2 Kg. Esta producción de alevines representó un incremento de 279% con respecto a la reportada para 1992 (685.000 alevines), cuando sólo existían 6 centros de producción. Para el año 2006 se estimó una producción de 3.180.000 alevines en los 15 centros de producción, que no cubrió las expectativas de los productores”.

 

 

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105 thoughts on “La cachama, la “vedette” de la piscicultura

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