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Integrated Livestock-fish Farming Systems

Integrated Livestock-fish Farming Systems

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Published by: Daisy on Nov 17, 2008
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Social and EconomicConsiderations
Improving the quality of life
for the poor in developing countrieswill depend on reducing population growth, while improving nutrition andopportunities for income generation. Demographic trends show that many moremouths will need to be fed before human populations stabilize in most developingcountries. Increased consumption of livestock products and fish are indicators of rising affluence. Meeting these needs without resorting to ‘disruptive technologies’(Harrison, 1992) that together with population growth and increased individualconsumption cause negative environmental impacts, is a major challenge. Theappetite of growing urban centres for animal products can too often translate intoenvironmental damage and decline of traditional mixed farming (Steinfeld
et al
., 1997).
Both livestock and fish production can havenegative impacts but if production can beintegrated, benefits are likely to be moreequitable and ecologically benign. Benefits of productive integrated livestock
fish accrue toproducers, consumers and society in general. Acrop of fish, raised at little extra cost, spread risksand diversifies livestock production. Theproduction cost of the fish should be low sincelivestock waste is substituted for purchasedfeeds and/or chemical fertilizers, with potentialbenefit also to consumers. Moreover, theirintegration can, through a low technologyapproach, ameliorate the negative impacts of livestock intensification. Wastes that otherwiseadversely affect surface water supplies and thepeople dependent on them, can be treated atrelatively low cost and valuable nutrientsused and retained within the farming system(Chapter 4).Livestock
fish production has been mostlyadopted by livestock entrepreneurs, often in peri-urban areas, rather than the rural poor. Betteraccess to inputs and markets favours this group.
As developing countries become increasinglyurbanized, the role of entrepreneurs in producingcheap food for poor urban as well as rural peopleis likely to increase. A major challenge is also tobring the benefits of integration to poorer farmerscurrently not producing fish at all or raisinglivestock and fish separately with low andinefficient production.Fish and other aquatic animals are importantboth for their intrinsic nutritional value and theirmajor role in the food security of some of thepoorest people in the region. People living inAsia’s floodplains have been particularlydependent on growing rice and catching wildfish, so-called ‘rice-fish cultures’, but are alsonow consuming increasing quantities of ‘wheatand meat’. Urbanization and increasing wealthhave stimulated these trends toward a morediversified diet. In much of Asia, however,increased purchasing power also stimulatesincreased consumption of fish, particularlycultured fish. Urban areas as diverse as Bangkokand Hanoi have seen rapid increases in thedemand for cultured fish. While fish protein as apercentage of animal protein in the diet declineswith an increase in living standards as peopleconsume more meat relative to fish, the absoluteconsumption of fish tends to rise also.The integration of fish culture withinfarming systems could also allow increases infish consumption by people previouslyconsuming little, or for whom the culture of fishhas yet to develop as a viable alternative toexploiting wild stocks. This factor, together withpredictions of ever increasing global trade infood, suggest that exports of both livestock andcultured fish will continue to rise. In manywestern countries, fish consumption is nowgrowing much faster than consumption of meat,partly due to increased awareness of the healthbenefits of fish in the diet. Where aquaculture isviable in developing countries, promotingherbivorous fish raised on manure, rather thancarnivorous fish species fed largely on other fishshould be vigorously promoted by national andinternational organizations. This strategy hasthe best chance of meeting the needs of poorpeople, both producers and consumers. It canalso avoid negative environmental impactsassociated with specialism and separation of aquaculture and livestock production (seeChapter 4).The use of livestock wastes to raise fish on ahousehold level is a method for people to addvalue to the assets they already possess, whilediversification allows poor people to offset risk.Livestock production is one of the most commonmethods of saving for the rural poor. Income fromsale of livestock products can also be veryimportant. Raising livestock, often on wastes andby-products, is also common among poorerpeople in peri-urban areas striving to balance aportfolio of different activities. If further value canbe added by raising fish on livestock wastes in awater body close to the house, contributions toimproved livelihoods may occur in a variety of ways. The nutritional benefit of eating culturedfish has been a major incentive to promoteaquaculture, even among people whotraditionally consume little. Adopting fish culturemay help to develop a broader range of humanand physical capital as improved knowledge andskills gained are applied more widely.Understanding cultural norms concerningconsumption of fish, and resource constraintsand conflicts, is essential if integrated livestock
fish culture is to be promoted effectively morewidely. The factors that drive or restrain thedevelopment of integrated farming are complex.On-farm most of these relate to constraints to thecollection and use of livestock manures (seeChapter 5) but off-farm factors often dominate.Poor availability of inputs e.g. fish seed andlivestock feeds, and markets may restrictinterest. An ‘information gap’ is clearly a majorconstraint that needs to be addressed. Culturaland social values may also support or undermineefforts to promote integrated practices, many of which have their roots in earlier stages of agricultural development.The promotion of integrated livestock
fishculture has been adversely affected by itscomplexity and the limitations of conventionalextension approaches. A range of approachesthat are participatory at both the farmer andinstitutional level show promise for greatersuccess, providing off-farm factors remainpositive and supportive.
Physical environments, and the cultures thathave developed in them, have shaped dietaryhabits and the acceptability of certain livestockand fish. Taboo foods, be they pork amongdifferent groups in arid areas of the Middle East,South and Southeast Asia or fish to certaingroups of people in Africa and Asia may have animportant underlying basis. Clearly, thepromotion of livestock or fish production topeople who are disinclined to consume eitherwould be problematic. Recent examples of crop/livestock systems evolving in Asia can all belinked to a strong market demand for theproducts, be it the ‘white revolution’ in thePunjab where intensive dairying has developedrapidly, to an expansion of the ‘balut’ duck eggproduction in the Philippines.The factors that stimulate growth of livestockor fish to be key parts of any particular farmingsystem are complex but clearly consumerdemand is critical. The comment that ‘whateverthe biologist may conclude about relativeefficiencies of different livestock, farmers willcontinue to produce what the consumer likeseating, as long as he is prepared to pay for it’(Spedding, 1971) reflects richer peoples’ attitudesto livestock consumption. Clearly, the majoropportunities for growth in integrated live-stock
fish lie with species that are culturallyacceptable, profitable for the producer andaffordable to the consumer. Thus, although mostAsian consumers may favour freshwatercarnivorous fish species over herbivores, theycannot be raised cost-effectively in waste-fedsystems. The production of carnivorous fishspecies on trash fish and fishmeal-based pelletssoon reaches a plateau in each society asdemand by the wealthier people has been met. Incontrast, the rise in production of fish feeding lowin the food chain continues to meet unfulfilleddemand for low-cost animal protein by themajority of the population in countries promotingaquaculture in Asia.Experience shows that even new species canbecome popular with both producers andconsumers as their relative advantages becomeclear. Tilapia has moved from being a weed fishrarely sold in markets to economic significance inseveral Asian countries. This is mainly becauseNile tilapia, which also thrives in waste-fedsystems, has substituted for inferior species.Tilapias have come to dominate the production of traditional carps in areas where feedlot livestockwaste is abundant and its opportunity cost lowsuch as Taiwan and Central Thailand. Thepopularity of integrating pigs and poultry withfish in these and other areas is based on theincreased demand for a traditional food, i.e.poultry and pig products, that has grown rapidly
Improved nutrition through consumption of cultured fish within the household, or pur-chase of food using income derived fromfish sales, can contribute to improved liveli-hoods as peoples’ health and educationimprove.
Production of both livestock and fish diver-sifies household assets
Entrepreneurs dominate peri-urban integrat-ed livestock
fish production, producing foodmainly for those in urban-industrial commu-nities, including the poor.
Global trends suggest that the need for cul- tured fish and livestock will continue toincrease as purchasing power and demandfor diverse diets both increase.
Integration with fish culture can reduce theenvironmental impacts that non-integratedlivestock production inevitably causes, andproduce high-value, low-cost food close to the market.
Cultural and social values can undermineattempts to promote integrated livestock-fish production.
Summary of key points relating tosocial and economic issues

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