Lao PDR as an inland country is located at the center of Indochina. Inland capture fisheries and aquaculture in Lao PDR are based mainly on water ecosystems consisting of rivers and their basins, hydropower and irrigation reservoirs, temporary or permanent derivation weirs, gates and dykes, small water bodies, flood plains and wet season-rice fields. The aquaculture production in 2011 was 88,000 T while capture fisheries production was 30,900 T (FAO). Whereas the capture fisheries production is in stagnant situation in recent years, the aquaculture production is dramatically increasing. One of the reasons for that is the number of fish ponds which is drastically increasing due to the necessity of soil for infrastructure building. Supply of animal protein for the people is still insufficient in most rural areas in Lao PDR. Fish is the most important source of animal protein. Lao government has set a target to increase fish supply to 24 kg/year/person by 2020. Promotion of aquaculture is the most promising way to increase fish supply to the rural people.
The farmers in the rural area are engaged in various agriculture activities in the village. Their inputs of cost and time for fish culture are quite limited. They prefer to use extensive method in fish culture and most of the fish ponds are small. The problems in aquaculture extension include lack of fish fingerlings for stocking into ponds and lack of basic aquaculture techniques such as on feeding and stocking.
The core farmers are the ones producing fingerlings and providing training on basic aquaculture techniques, and these activities are expected to be extended to small scale aquaculture in the rural area. The farmer-to-farmer approach by core farmers was demonstrated by Aquaculture Improvement and Extension Project Phase 2 (AQIP2; 2005-2010) in several provinces. Some core farmers were successfully fostered by the project. The effectiveness of the aquaculture extension in the rural area was verified. Currently Lao government is also conducting to foster core farmers in the national development policy. It is expected that the farmer-to-farmer approach will contribute in the extension of aquaculture in wide area.
In most cases of aquaculture extension, exotic species have been used as target species. In view of biodiversity, establishment of habitat and hybridizations with indigenous species in the natural water body, this practice may cause deterioration of the natural biodiversity. Therefore, to protect the diversifications, aquaculture extension using indigenous species should be promoted. The development of aquaculture technique for indigenous fish should be enhanced for the aquaculture extension.
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