The Aquaculture for Food Security, Poverty Alleviation and Nutrition (AFSPAN) Project was 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.

To provide food to a world population expected to surpass 9 billion in 2050, it has been estimated that agricultural output, originating primarily from crops, livestock and fisheries, including aquaculture must increase by 70%. Meeting this target is a formidable challenge for the international community considering that around one billion people presently suffer from hunger and poverty.

Aquaculture is widely considered an important component for enhancing food security, income and nutrition. However, little information is available concerning the direct and indirect impacts of aquaculture on food security and poverty alleviation in most developing countries.

Strengthening the knowledge base surrounding aquaculture and food and nutrition security through the AFSPAN Project provided evidence upon which sound resource allocation and strategies can be based. The knowledge developed will contribute to 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 millions of poor people.

The AFSPAN project developed novel and innovative strategies for consideration by development partners, in particular the EU, and contributed to promoting enhanced coordination and synergies between member states and EU initiatives related to international cooperation aiming at developing aquaculture as means of combating food insecurity.

AFSPAN partners conducted field-based research and activities to gather grass-root information and data, as well as to verify national information collected through the review process. The project conducted a review of literature and information, developed and verified assessment methodologies, national reviews, assessments, case studies, and prepared a final synthesis of the project's research findings.

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The project concluded in December 2014. The findings of the project are summarised in the Final Technical Report.


WP1. Project coordination

WP2. Assessment methodologies, indicators and framework

WP3. Review and assessment of national and international cooperation

WP4. Sustainable aquaculture systems and institutions

WP5. Social and cultural factors affecting aquaculture

WP6. Nutrition education in aquaculture

WP7. Trade and markets

WP8. Synthesis, policy guidance and coordinating arrangements

Funding agency

AFSPAN was funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme.


The twenty project partners included key institutions with strong technical competence in the areas of research, development project implementation and dissemination needed for the success of the project, and represent countries where aquaculture has made a major contribution to national economies, involves large numbers of small-scale farms and that have significant international trade of fisheries products. The project was coordinated by Dr Rohana Subasinghe, FAO (retired).

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NACA implements collaborative development assistance projects on issues of regional interest. Individual projects draw heavily on the personnel and facilities of participating centres in member states. Projects are essentially implemented by participating centres with the Secretariat acting as a coordinating body. NACA supports technical exchange, capacity building, institutional strengthening and policies for sustainable aquaculture development. Network partners include research centres, member governments, farmer associations, development agencies and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.