The primary objective of the feasibility study is to identify both the strengths and weaknesses associated with a proposed project and then make a determination as to whether or not any singular limitation or the sum of any series of limitations warrants disqualification of the proposed project from further consideration. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) assessment is typically performed to assist us in this determination.
Aquaculture feasibility studies are typically kicked-off with a visit to the target country. This frequently gives us the opportunity to meet with the client and discuss all of the key issues relevant to developing and operating a successful commercial aquaculture operation in the targeted country. This is an important information gathering time for both the client and the consultant and we will strive to answer all of the client’s questions while we gather all the information that’s required to complete the study.
Meetings are also frequently held with select government officials and other key stakeholders as we attempt to ascertain the level of support the proposed fish or shrimp farming project can expect to receive as we continue to gather the required information for our study.
As we have discussed, site selection is a key component in the overall process of determining feasibility. Water and soil quality are also critical variables that will significantly influence our opinion on feasibility and are discussed elsewhere on our website. Meteorological and oceanographic analysis (when relevant) is also closely investigated, as we leave no stone unturned. At its most basic level, our meteorological analysis will involve the collection and analysis of meteorological data from the region, with emphasis on seasonal patterns of rainfall and temperature. A natural disaster risk assessment will also be performed.
An assessment of the existing infrastructure in close proximity to the targeted site is also very important. Traditional infrastructure that must be properly assessed and analyzed includes access to local farm labor, access to reliable and low cost sources of energy, transportation networks, logistical support, and communications networks. Non-traditional infrastructure, or aquaculture infrastructure, also needs to be properly assessed and analyzed. Proper access to high quality feeds, seed (fry/fingerlings/nauplii/post larvae), and the proximity and capabilities of local seafood processing plants all require careful investigation.
Species selection will have a profound impact on the success of any new aquaculture project. The choice of the species or more than one (polyculture) to be cultured is not a decision to be made on personal preferences or anecdotal information. Species selection requires careful consideration of the market demands, any technical limitations associated with growing the species in question, the local environment, and any unique features of the site. Part of our job is to evaluate all of these factors and make a recommendation on the best species for a given project and location.
The presence of a strong local or regional market for the farm-raised products is always a valuable asset for any new project. While in-country, we will perform a detailed survey of the local seafood market. Information will be gathered on local species availability, seafood product type preferences, current seafood demand, available seafood supply, and pricing of various available seafood products. After analyzing local market data, recommendations will be made on the appropriate seafood marketing strategy for the local market. Whenever appropriate, we will prepare seafood market studies for select international targeted markets and develop a targeted seafood marketing strategy for the country or region in question.
An aquaculture production strategy will be developed that’s custom tailored to suit the selected site and the marketing and sales goals of the proposed project. This aquaculture operations plan will serve to guide the investment decision making process, while also serving as the foundation for more detailed aquaculture production and operational plans in the event a decision is made to go forward with the project.
Every aquaculture project and site has a unique set of characteristics that call for a unique vision and design. As part of our comprehensive aquaculture feasibility analysis process, we will develop preliminary design recommendations that are custom tailored to the features of the site and the species to be farmed. If the proposed project is feasible and a decision is made to go forward with the project, the preliminary fish or shrimp farm design recommendations will serve as the basis for more detailed works by our civil and aquaculture engineering experts.
A custom financial feasibility analysis will be prepared for the project envisioned during this process of determining feasibility. The financial model outputs will allow our team to efficiently consider multiple alternative scenarios over a multi-year window. The proprietary financial feasibility program that we utilize will enable us to determine the financial feasibility of the proposed aquaculture project with a high degree of confidence.
Our financial feasibility analysis includes the following:
- Capital equipment & construction cost budget.
- Development of unit production assumptions.
- Preliminary production projections.
- Annual operating expense budgets.
- Pro forma income statements.
- Pro forma cash-flow statements.
- Pro forma balance sheets.
- Financial ratios analysis.
- Return on investment analyses.
Similar to other parts of the aquaculture feasibility study, the custom financial projections developed by our team of aquaculture consultants will serve as the basis for any future financial projections in the event a decision is made to move forward with the project.
An investigation of domestic political and economic factors that may effect or otherwise influence the viability of the proposed project will be prepared. This will include a review of the available aquaculture investment incentives being offered by the government.
The professional and independent opinion of AquaSol, Inc. regarding the feasibility of the proposed aquaculture project will be included as part of our industry-leading feasibility studies. To assist in formalizing our professional opinion on the feasibility of any shrimp or fish farming project, AquaSol has developed an aquaculture project rating system that scores projects according to various strengths and weaknesses across multiple key categories.
Recommendations regarding action items and the next steps for a feasible project will also be provided to the client. Some recommendations make during the process of discovery will be made in an effort to add a higher degree of feasibility to the project.
According to our own code of conduct, we will not recommend a proposed fish or shrimp farming project unless we are able to determine independently and conclusively that it meets or exceeds our minimum internal feasibility requirements. Even if a proposed project is deemed feasible, this process of full discovery of the proposed project’s limitations will allow the project to be properly designed and managed more effectively going forward.
The above brief descriptions simply provide guidelines of what we typically like to cover in the first round of our involvement in any new commercial aquaculture project. Every greenfield project is unique and will have distinctly unique needs. This first round of work may serve as the basis for more in-depth investigations whenever appropriate. In the second round of aquaculture project development, we typically focus on further project development and management as we refine the aquaculture production plans, shrimp or fish farm design, aquaculture product marketing strategies, and the financial projections for the proposed project. The completion of the second phase will bring the project to the point where a professional business plan can be formulated using all the research and reports developed to date.
Our focus remains on what is best for the client and the project over the long term. If we find that a project is not feasible based on the results of our feasibility study, we will be straightforward and report this to the client. Our reputation is on the line every time we undertake a new project and our belief is that if we remain truly independent and remain true to the best interests of the project, we will be able to extend our excellent track record of successful projects and happy clients.