03.07.2014

An Argentinean company shall supply aquaculture producers worldwide

The biotechnological company located in La Plata, Buenos Aires, developed a unique global process for the production of Artemia cysts in a controlled, sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. This system provides continuity of delivery and consistent quality.

An Argentinean company shall supply aquaculture producers worldwide

Artemia are highly nutritious crustaceans used worldwide as a food source for other crustaceans and small fish. [Photo: BIOSIMA S.R.L.]

Artemia is a crustacean of high nutritional value which is used worldwide as a food source for other small crustaceans and small fish, both saltwater and freshwater, and is a supply for shrimps and lobsters farming. 50% of its composition corresponds to low molecular weight protein, 25% lipids, high-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), vitamins and beta carotene.

Under certain culture conditions, shrimp produces eggs (cysts) that can last for years under dehydrating conditions without refrigeration. When placed in favorable conditions, the cysts hatch in about 24 hours, resulting in highly nutritious and small larvae (400-500 microns) which can be ingested by the shrimp larvae and fish in their larval stages (nauplii).

Globally, the main producer collects artemia cysts in the Great Salt Lake located in Utah, USA. In this natural environment, the amount of artemia cysts is limited and must be harvested under sustainable management controls when salinity conditions occur, between the months of November to February. Given these limitations, the demand for the input is unfulfilled due to the restricted amount this unique lake offers, harming producers of aquatic organisms.

In this context, Cintia Hernandez and Sebastian Calvo, biotechnologists graduated from the National University of Quilmes, developed a new system for culturing artemia cysts in a intensively controlled, sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. To implement this system, young biotechnologists founded BIOSIMA S.R.L. in 2007, thanks to a subsidy of $ 2,043,942 granted by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation, under the line of funding technology-based companies EMPRETECNO PAEBT administered by the Argentinean Fund Sector (FONARSEC) of the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion.

"We realized that the production of aquatic organisms in captivity was an industry that was growing at 20% per year since ten years ago.We felt it was an interesting market, we asked a financing line from the Ministry of Science and Technology and founded Biosima S.R.L., a company growing these eggs in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner", Hernandez said.

The intensive production process of artemia cysts developed by Biosima is an innovative global process. It is a closed recirculation system, which emulates a natural ecosystem where water is continuously recycled and sterilized for use again in the process. It has a microalgae culture that, on the one side absorbs the Artemia residue and on the other serve as a nutrient component of the cysts.

Through this system, the production of artemia cysts is independent to seasonality and not only keeps the regularity in the delivery of input, but also in the quality. Thus, farmers increase their productivity feeding their fish and crustaceans with artemia and obtaining higher quality products and size, in less time and cost.

"In contrast to the system used in the Great Salt Lake, our system is scalable and productivity changes between seasons are minimal. Although it has slightly higher costs, sustainability, predictability, traceability and increased quality are important competitive advantages.Also, due to the unmet demand, we do not compete directly with collectors but we complement them" Sebastian Calvo says.

The pre-industrial BIOSIMA plant produces annually 500 kg of Artemia cysts. Throughout this year, the biotechnologists responsible for the company work in the construction engineering for a commercial scale plant with capacity to produce 5 tons per year. “Our purpose it to reach a production of 100 tons annually in the first five years, which represents an annual turnover of 7.500.000 dollar”, Calvo sustains.

This new system was distinguished with several prizes, which allowed entrepreneurs testing laboratory training in the development of business plans and incorporate experienced and prestige strategic partners. Among the distinctions are: 5th. prize Santander Rio 2007 Young Entrepreneur Award, 2nd. prize in the Ships Competition 2008 (IAE, Universidad Austral) and 2nd. prize of the IDB Challenge Argentina 2009 (FUNDES Argentina y Business International Development).

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Artemia are highly nutritious crustaceans used worldwide as a food source for other crustaceans and small fish. [Photo: BIOSIMA S.R.L.]

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