CHAPTER 7 •
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
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