World population is projected to increase drastically in the coming decades, threatening the food and nutritional security of the masses and particularly of the poor. Greater attention on agricultural resource management is essential. Among the different sources of animal protein, freshwater fish are considered to be one of the most promising commodities that can contribute significantly to food security and nutrition. Moreover, small-scale aquaculture, common in the Asia-Pacific region, provides additional benefits to rural communities including income generation, nutritional improvement, and sustainable practices through integrated farming systems.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been involved in the development of small-scale aquaculture through technical cooperation projects (TCPs) in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which demonstrate the effectiveness of “farmer-to-farmer extension” approaches in rural aquaculture. In these TCPs, core farmers who produce fingerlings are motivated to teach grow-out to others using simple techniques so that they can acquire patronage of clients and expand market outlets. It is noteworthy that such system not only provide economic benefit to the core farmers but also enhance their social role as local leaders and/or extension workers. This approach is not totally new, especially in the agriculture sector. However, the experiences, lessons learned and findings from these JICA-implemented TCPs on small-scale aquaculture are worth sharing with other stakeholders, and as a reference for better management practices.
The ASEM Aquaculture Platform was established in 2003 as an EU-Asia framework for dialogue, networking and continuing coordination for sustainable aquaculture development. The project's major aim is to develop a strong "Community of Practice" to reconcile ecosystem and economic system demands to promote and consolidate sustainability in aquaculture development in both regions. The aim is to move more pro-actively into effective policy, into formulation of joint research goals, and into outcomes which contribute to Millennium Development and related goals.
Culture-based fisheries have been accepted as a useful development strategy, as a low-cost measure to mobilise dryland farming communities (e.g. rice farmers) to use existing water bodies for the secondary purpose of food fish production. The strategies to optimise benefits from CBF, however, vary in detail from country to country and across climatic regimes. The project will introduce community-based CBF in Cambodia, and seek to consolidate gains of communities that have adopted CBF in Lao PDR.
The AFSPAN Project is a three-year initiative to improve our understanding of the role of aquaculture in food security, poverty alleviation and human nutrition. The project is developing new methodologies to quantify the impact of aquaculture in developing nations and low income food deficit countries. It will enable the efficient planning, coordination and implementation of research and development programmes supporting the sustainable expansion of aquaculture, and increasing its impact on food security, livelihoods and poverty alleviation for poor people.