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Social and Economic


Improving the quality of life for the poor in developing countries

will depend on reducing population growth, while improving nutrition and
opportunities for income generation. Demographic trends show that many more
mouths will need to be fed before human populations stabilize in most developing
countries. 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 individual
consumption cause negative environmental impacts, is a major challenge. The
appetite of growing urban centres for animal products can too often translate into
environmental damage and decline of traditional mixed farming (Steinfeld et al., 1997).

Both livestock and fish production can have integration can, through a low technology
negative impacts but if production can be approach, ameliorate the negative impacts of
integrated, benefits are likely to be more livestock intensification. Wastes that otherwise
equitable and ecologically benign. Benefits of adversely affect surface water supplies and the
productive integrated livestock-fish accrue to people dependent on them, can be treated at
producers, consumers and society in general. A relatively low cost and valuable nutrients
crop of fish, raised at little extra cost, spread risks used and retained within the farming system
and diversifies livestock production. The (Chapter 4).
production cost of the fish should be low since Livestock-fish production has been mostly
livestock waste is substituted for purchased adopted by livestock entrepreneurs, often in peri-
feeds and/or chemical fertilizers, with potential urban areas, rather than the rural poor. Better
benefit also to consumers. Moreover, their access to inputs and markets favours this group.


As developing countries become increasingly associated with specialism and separation of
urbanized, the role of entrepreneurs in producing aquaculture and livestock production (see
cheap food for poor urban as well as rural people Chapter 4).
is likely to increase. A major challenge is also to The use of livestock wastes to raise fish on a
bring the benefits of integration to poorer farmers household level is a method for people to add
currently not producing fish at all or raising value to the assets they already possess, while
livestock and fish separately with low and diversification allows poor people to offset risk.
inefficient production. Livestock production is one of the most common
Fish and other aquatic animals are important methods of saving for the rural poor. Income from
both for their intrinsic nutritional value and their sale of livestock products can also be very
major role in the food security of some of the important. Raising livestock, often on wastes and
poorest people in the region. People living in by-products, is also common among poorer
Asia’s floodplains have been particularly people in peri-urban areas striving to balance a
dependent on growing rice and catching wild portfolio of different activities. If further value can
fish, so-called ‘rice-fish cultures’, but are also be added by raising fish on livestock wastes in a
now consuming increasing quantities of ‘wheat water body close to the house, contributions to
and meat’. Urbanization and increasing wealth improved livelihoods may occur in a variety of
have stimulated these trends toward a more ways. The nutritional benefit of eating cultured
diversified diet. In much of Asia, however, fish has been a major incentive to promote
increased purchasing power also stimulates aquaculture, even among people who
increased consumption of fish, particularly traditionally consume little. Adopting fish culture
cultured fish. Urban areas as diverse as Bangkok may help to develop a broader range of human
and Hanoi have seen rapid increases in the and physical capital as improved knowledge and
demand for cultured fish. While fish protein as a skills gained are applied more widely.
percentage of animal protein in the diet declines Understanding cultural norms concerning
with an increase in living standards as people consumption of fish, and resource constraints
consume more meat relative to fish, the absolute and conflicts, is essential if integrated livestock-
consumption of fish tends to rise also. fish culture is to be promoted effectively more
The integration of fish culture within widely. The factors that drive or restrain the
farming systems could also allow increases in development of integrated farming are complex.
fish consumption by people previously On-farm most of these relate to constraints to the
consuming little, or for whom the culture of fish collection and use of livestock manures (see
has yet to develop as a viable alternative to Chapter 5) but off-farm factors often dominate.
exploiting wild stocks. This factor, together with Poor availability of inputs e.g. fish seed and
predictions of ever increasing global trade in livestock feeds, and markets may restrict
food, suggest that exports of both livestock and interest. An ‘information gap’ is clearly a major
cultured fish will continue to rise. In many constraint that needs to be addressed. Cultural
western countries, fish consumption is now and social values may also support or undermine
growing much faster than consumption of meat, efforts to promote integrated practices, many of
partly due to increased awareness of the health which have their roots in earlier stages of
benefits of fish in the diet. Where aquaculture is agricultural development.
viable in developing countries, promoting The promotion of integrated livestock-fish
herbivorous fish raised on manure, rather than culture has been adversely affected by its
carnivorous fish species fed largely on other fish complexity and the limitations of conventional
should be vigorously promoted by national and extension approaches. A range of approaches
international organizations. This strategy has that are participatory at both the farmer and
the best chance of meeting the needs of poor institutional level show promise for greater
people, both producers and consumers. It can success, providing off-farm factors remain
also avoid negative environmental impacts positive and supportive.


BOX 7.A would be problematic. Recent examples of
crop/livestock systems evolving in Asia can all be
Summary of key points relating to linked to a strong market demand for the
social and economic issues products, be it the ‘white revolution’ in the
Punjab where intensive dairying has developed
rapidly, to an expansion of the ‘balut’ duck egg
 Improved nutrition through consumption of
production in the Philippines.
cultured fish within the household, or pur-
The factors that stimulate growth of livestock
chase of food using income derived from
or fish to be key parts of any particular farming
fish sales, can contribute to improved liveli-
system are complex but clearly consumer
hoods as peoples’ health and education
demand is critical. The comment that ‘whatever
the biologist may conclude about relative
 Production of both livestock and fish diver- efficiencies of different livestock, farmers will
sifies household assets continue to produce what the consumer likes
 Entrepreneurs dominate peri-urban integrat- eating, as long as he is prepared to pay for it’
ed livestock-fish production, producing food (Spedding, 1971) reflects richer peoples’ attitudes
mainly for those in urban-industrial commu- to livestock consumption. Clearly, the major
nities, including the poor. opportunities for growth in integrated live-
 Global trends suggest that the need for cul- stock-fish lie with species that are culturally
tured fish and livestock will continue to acceptable, profitable for the producer and
increase as purchasing power and demand affordable to the consumer. Thus, although most
for diverse diets both increase. Asian consumers may favour freshwater
carnivorous fish species over herbivores, they
 Integration with fish culture can reduce the
cannot be raised cost-effectively in waste-fed
environmental impacts that non-integrated
systems. The production of carnivorous fish
livestock production inevitably causes, and
species on trash fish and fishmeal-based pellets
produce high-value, low-cost food close to
soon reaches a plateau in each society as
the market.
demand by the wealthier people has been met. In
 Cultural and social values can undermine contrast, the rise in production of fish feeding low
attempts to promote integrated livestock- in the food chain continues to meet unfulfilled
fish production. demand for low-cost animal protein by the
majority of the population in countries promoting
aquaculture in Asia.
Experience shows that even new species can
become popular with both producers and
consumers as their relative advantages become
7.1 clear. Tilapia has moved from being a weed fish
rarely sold in markets to economic significance in
Demand several Asian countries. This is mainly because
Physical environments, and the cultures that Nile tilapia, which also thrives in waste-fed
have developed in them, have shaped dietary systems, has substituted for inferior species.
habits and the acceptability of certain livestock Tilapias have come to dominate the production of
and fish. Taboo foods, be they pork among traditional carps in areas where feedlot livestock
different groups in arid areas of the Middle East, waste is abundant and its opportunity cost low
South and Southeast Asia or fish to certain such as Taiwan and Central Thailand. The
groups of people in Africa and Asia may have an popularity of integrating pigs and poultry with
important underlying basis. Clearly, the fish in these and other areas is based on the
promotion of livestock or fish production to increased demand for a traditional food, i.e.
people who are disinclined to consume either poultry and pig products, that has grown rapidly


with improved purchasing power. It is attractive rapidly to income generation once confidence is
for modern feedlot systems that produce large gained (Edwards, 1997). Natural stocks of aquatic
amounts of nutrient-rich waste to dispose of it in products, including frogs, crabs and various
nearby ponds. insects were, until recently, adequate for
subsistence purposes in all but the most densely
Subsistence attitudes settled rural areas of Asia. Undeveloped markets
Small-holders, who consume much of what they for these highly perishable products probably
produce, have different value systems to constrained commercialization (Little and
commercial farmers and urban consumers. The Edwards, 1997).
rain-fed, rice-biased agricultural cycle determines In a similar manner to poultry, the social
both supply and demand for poultry and cultured values of exchange and reciprocity are more
fish products in much of rural Asia (Little, 1995). important in rural areas than the cash/credit
Resource-poor farmers raise different livestock for systems which dominate urban areas. Farming
a whole range of reasons, and culture of fish is households raising fish may have mixed motives
equally complex. Wild and cultured fish are often that include reducing costs associated with
viewed very differently. In Northeast Thailand harvesting dwindling wild stocks, safeguarding
cultured fish are highly valued for their food security through consumption, or sale and
convenience during the rice harvest period when use of the cash for purchase of alternative,
neighbours and relatives are entertained (Box cheaper foods.
7.B). This attitude partly explains the prevailing
extensive management and the practice of Urbanization
holding fish for prolonged periods (Chapter 8). The Many of the factors driving the specialization of
view of cultured fish as a ‘convenience food’, a livestock and crop production on Asian farms are
similar attribute to that of home-raised poultry, related to the two major impacts of urbanization:
which can be accessed without planning or using the creation and growth of urban markets
cash reserves is also highly valued. requiring consistent supplies of food; and
Both fish and small livestock meet a variety of depopulation of rural areas that dampens
needs, fulfilling roles defined within both demand for food produced in traditional systems
‘physical’ and ‘social’ assets used in livelihoods (Pingali, 1995). Rural depopulation is often linked
analysis. Any promotion of integration of to improved infrastructure such as roads and
livestock and fish must recognise the diversity communications; it has varying characteristics
and individualistic needs, rather than simple that have different outcomes in terms of rural
commercial models focusing on ‘efficiency’ and demand. Out-migration may be either chronic or
‘output’. Moreover, wealth, social status and long–term, or seasonal or short-term, in nature.
gender further complicate attitudes to, and the Communities negatively affected suffer in terms
practice of integrated farming. of low and erratic purchasing power and low
The factors that affect production and investment in agriculture (Turongruang et al.,
consumption of fish are varied and interlinked. 1994; Little, 1995).
Demographic changes point to increasing Industrial food production favours
importance of peri-urban production to meet concentration near urban centres because of a
urban demand and yet aquaculture also develops range of factors. Of these transport costs and
in the absence of formal markets. Informal sale, market opportunities are of greatest importance.
exchange and use of fish as gifts are often It is less costly to transport high-energy, livestock
underestimated and yet form an important feed from distant production sites than
component of demand that is underestimated in perishable livestock products; and this
official statistics. In areas where wild fish are a encourages production, slaughter and meat
traditional dietary staple, farmer aspirations may processing facilities in peri-urban areas (de Haan
at first focus on subsistence but can shift quite et al., 1997).



Building social assets

 Marketing of a proportion of the poultry and sumption alone, but an important category of
fish raised by small-holders is typical among commercial farmer has emerged in the last
farmers in Northeast Thailand. Although such decade in response to high demand for cul-
sales constitute only a marginal source of tured fish. This minority of farmers, who are
annual income, poultry are valued for their typically resource-rich, has been very recep-
role as liquid assets as they are mainly sold tive to use of high-input inorganic fertilization
when cash expenditure of the household is and integration with feedlot livestock.
high. The social role of poultry and both wild  Households that adopt aquaculture in rural
and cultured fish is particularly clear during areas of Thailand tend to consume more fish
the rice harvest season when meat consump- and other high quality food than non-adopters
tion is high as friends and relatives are enter- (Setboonsarng, 1997).
tained. Cultured fish and poultry are a con-
 Poor households in Southern Viet Nam raised
venient and available high-value food used at
fish integrated with pigs primarily as a cash
this time.
crop; household consumption needs were met
 More than 50 percent of households in a sur- through capture or purchase of small wild
vey of six provinces of Northeast Thailand fish.
used the fish they cultured for home con-

Wild fish
Quantity of meat (kg)

Cultured fish
6 Village chickens

5 Domestic ducks
4 Muscovy ducks
3 Geese
2 Pork/beef
upland mini-watershed lowland

Average meat consumption per household by type during the ‘feast’ period around rice
harvest time of farmers adopting intensified fish culture practices in three areas of Udon
Thani, Northeast Thailand. Source: Little et al. (1992).

The trends of intensification and specialization will grow as opportunities for livelihoods dwindle
of livestock production have been challenged on in rural areas. Increase in farm-unit size and
ecological and social grounds. Although intensifi- decline in the total number of farms will increase
cation should ultimately improve the quantity the flow of the rural poor to urban areas,
and variety of livestock products available to intensifying urban and rural social problems.
urban consumers, the proportion of urban poor These views have popularized the rationale for


strengthening crop/livestock linkages through BOX 7.D
intensification of smallholder systems (Devendra
and Chantalakhana, 1992). Summary of demand-related issues

Accessing distant markets  Demographic and socio-economic change

The development of markets, be they local, urban affects demand for fish and competing prod-
or international, both stimulates and controls ucts.
efforts to promote livestock and fish production.
 Subsistence, exchange and use as gifts may
Local adoption of appropriate fish culture
dominate disposal of livestock and fish
techniques can quickly lead to saturation of local
products rather than cash sale.
markets, which in turn can stimulate the
 Urbanization and rural depopulation greatly
accessing of distant or even international
markets. Most species of cultured freshwater fish affect opportunities for, and nature of, live-
in Asia, however, are unknown in international stock and fish production.
markets. Apart from high valued carnivorous  Small producers of are often disadvantaged
species that have specialized markets, mainly in in distant markets.

urban Asia, tilapias probably have most potential
as a global commodity.
Poor quality-control hinders export Product quality and uniformity become
of value-added fish products important if distant markets are to be targeted.
Assembling enough fish of consistent quality
from small-holders to meet the needs of distant
Taiwan is the largest producer of whole tilapias
markets is a problem, as is the likelihood of poor
exported to North America. The fish are raised
bacteriological quality and off-flavours.
on livestock waste and pelleted feed but poor
Off-flavour problems have been closely
control of product quality, and a lack of
associated with freshwater fish such as channel
processing labour, results in most of the fish
catfish and tilapia raised in ponds or from wild
being sold as whole frozen fish cheaply to
stocks. Off-flavours, caused by geosmin and 2-
ethnic markets. Export quality tilapia, for which
methylisoborneol (MIB) (Dionigi et al., 1998) are
the largest potential markets exist, requires
not toxic but can cause rejection of fish by
both significant quantities of fish large enough
consumers, hinder marketing efforts, and
for processing (500-600g minimum) and
reinforce product safety concerns (Dionigi et al.,
commitment to the management of off-flavour
1998). Organoleptic testing of tilapias raised in
different systems indicates that waste-fed fish
are no more likely to suffer off-flavours than pellet-
Factors that support the production of export-
fed fish, and may be superior in terms of flesh
quality tilapia include:
quality (Eves et al., 1995). The erratic quality of
 well managed pond-to-processing systems
Taiwan’s frozen tilapia exports have hindered the
that taste-tests fish just prior to harvest and
penetration of larger markets for value-added
refuses unsuitable quality;
products (Box 7.C).
 facility for fattening in an intensive system
and depuration prior to slaughter reduce
incidence of off-flavour; 7.2
 low processing costs to fillets and ready-to-
cook products; Nutritional benefits
 frozen food storage capacity. Fish are highly nutritious, providing animal
protein containing all 10 essential amino acids in


Urban markets demand large quantities of livestock products which can result in high concentrations of livestock,
such as these meat ducks, being 'finished' in peri-urban areas
Pig pens constructed over ponds in peri-urban areas of central Thailand where land prices and labour costs are high

relatively high concentrations. Low in cholesterol both birds and mammals, and reptiles and
and saturated fats, they are also rich in key fatty amphibians are key parts of the diet
acids, minerals and vitamins. (Srikosamatara et al., 1992). Foods derived from
Inclusion of fish in diets based on traditional water be they insects, molluscs, crustaceans or
high-carbohydrate staples typical of most fish contribute to a varied diet in many parts of
developing countries is particularly valuable for Southeast Asia. Typically, wild and cultured food
vulnerable groups of people such as pregnant and is used to meet day-to-day requirements and
nursing mothers, infants and pre-school children. social occasions. Rural households in Northeast
This is partly because fish are a valuable source Thailand depend heavily on poultry eggs and
of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PuFAs), now aquatic products including fish for daily
known to be essential in development of the brain consumption, whereas poultry meat is mainly
and nervous system and the proper functioning reserved as a ‘feast food’ for special occasions
of the immune system. Recent research points to
freshwater as well as marine fish having
significant levels of these essential fatty acids BOX 7.E
(Steffens and Wirth, 1997).
The importance of fish in household food Nutritional importance of fish
security in much of Asia has been frequently
 In West Bengal, a rice-fish society where
stated but on a global level fish is less important
than livestock as a source of animal protein, much of the agricultural land is flooded for a
supplying less than 20 percent of the total for proportion of the year, market surveys indi-
developing countries. However, the average cate that consumption of fish is far more
disguises the importance of fish in many of these important than meat (Morrice et al., 1998).
countries, where fish meets between 40-70  In two sub-districts of Bangladesh more
percent of animal protein needs (Edwards, 1997). freshwater fish was eaten in households
There is clearly a huge unfulfilled need for fish to with little land than all meat combined
contribute towards the livelihoods of the poor as (poultry, beef and mutton) (calculated from
well as the diets of the affluent (Box 7.E). Ahmed et al., 1993). Fish and chicken were
Where natural food remains abundant, the two main animal protein products pro-
cultured livestock and fish are less important duced on-farm in households with ponds, of
(Prapertchob, 1989; Little and Satapornvanit, which more than 80 percent was fish.
1996; Edwards, 1997). In the Lao PDR small game,


(Little et al., 1992). There are important BOX 7.F
implications for household nutrition in the use of
rice by-products for feeding livestock or fish, or in Access and benefits from
promoting their integration. Whereas pigs are aquaculture
normally marketed outside of the village, poultry
meat is used mainly for feasting, and eggs and  Both gender and age in Hmong communities
fish are consumed regularly by everyone in the in Lao PDR affect access to, and benefits
household. from, livestock of various types. Women and
children have primary responsibility for
small livestock and contribute to the gener-
7.3 al maintenance of larger animals, but men
have most access to resources and benefits
Gender and age from livestock. Men were also the main pro-
ponents of introducing fish culture into the
The benefits of current livestock and fish
farming system (Oparaocha, 1997).
production to the household and impacts of their
integration need to be analysed from the  In Than Tri district in Northern Viet Nam
perspective of both gender and age. Traditional (Hoan, 1996) intensification of sewage-
patterns of access and control of resources within based aquaculture has had beneficial
the household may be affected by introduction of impacts women who now spend less time on
‘new’ products such as cultured fish, especially if laborious rice culture and more time market-
it involves reallocation of resources. Participatory ing fish.
tools sensitive to the needs of women have been  Meat duck production favoured men more
used as part of farming system research and than women and children whereas the oppo-
extension methodologies (FSR&E) to understand site was true for egg ducks in Northeast
the importance of gender on attitudes to intensi- Thailand. Men usually consumed duck meat
fication, resource allocation and use of benefits in with alcohol, but duck eggs were a common
livestock production (Paris, 1995). Such methods lunch-time food for school children. The fish
are useful for evaluating the potential and produced from the wastes was eaten by
impacts of integrating livestock with fish culture. everyone in the family however (AASP,
Disadvantages  In female-headed households in Cambodia,
Introducing fish culture can potentially increase which are relatively common because of
workloads for certain family members and reduce war, aquaculture was more difficult to adopt
outputs of staple crops because feeds or because of a general labour shortage.
fertilizers have been reallocated. The
reproductive roles of women may limit the time
they have available for extra productive production, marketing and consumption of both
activities; increasing the workload further livestock and fish often reveals an important
through aquaculture could lead to overall gender dimension. Understanding current roles,
negative outcomes on family health. before the introduction of fish culture or its
Increased labour requirements can also result integration with livestock, may be important to
in children spending less time at school, targeting and orientating information so that
potentially undermining their future livelihood women do benefit and are not disadvantaged.
prospects. Improved access to, and control of Where aquaculture is traditional in Southeast
benefits is required for women to benefit Asia, women in rural areas have important roles
substantially from new developments such as in feeding and marketing fish but modernization
integrating livestock and fish. Understanding the that has increased yields has totally changed
role of different household members in the livelihood systems (Box 7.F).


Training and extension alternative approaches have been found effective
Women have often been overlooked in training (Box 7.G).
and extension. Men, usually the ‘pond owner’ in Harrison et al. (1994) explains the lack of pond
both Africa and Asia, have most contact with ownership by women in Africa ‘is partly due to
extension agents, who are also usually male. Men constraints in access to land and labour for pond
also usually have had more access to formal construction and partly because in the past the
education and generally have greater mobility technology has been promoted by men for men’.
and access to information. This situation has Assuming that knowledge will be transferred
been exacerbated by poor planning and from the household member receiving training to
management of aquaculture training, although others is clearly misguided. Women also have
poorer access to credit that may be a key
constraint to adoption of improved livestock and
fish culture. Microcredit schemes may not
provide money on the right basis for supporting
Training women in aquaculture aquaculture but has proved highly effective for
encouraging women to intensify small livestock
production. An extension focus towards women,
 Residential aquaculture training at a dis-
has been particularly successful for poultry in
tance from the village made participation
Bangladesh and Ethiopia, and dairy goats in
impossible for women in an aquaculture
Ethiopia (Peacock, 1996) and targeting women is
development project in Eastern India (M.
an important aspect in successful adoption of fish
Felsing, pers. comm).
culture in Northeast Thailand (Little and
 Training women through participatory Satapornvanit, 1996).
action learning around their own ponds in
the village with flexible, short-term meet- Targeting the young
ings with outside resource persons and early Targeting schools with information about fish
adopters has been successfully promoted by culture through school fish pond projects has
the Vietnamese Women’s Union (Voeten, become an essential part of most extension
1996). strategies in South and Southeast Asia as training
 Women and girls were less involved in small- people who are younger, more receptive to new
scale, backyard aquaculture in Bangldesh ideas, and literate is believed to have the greatest
even though it often occurred within the developmental impact. The direct nutritional
homestead. An approach that focused on benefits of the fish produced by such students are
their needs, without excluding male family a bonus. However, retention of this expertise in
members, significantly increased their inter- rural areas is an important constraint as the young
est, knowledge and benefits from improved are most prone to out-migration. In contrast,
aquaculture based on culturally appropriate interest in aquaculture may be disproportionately
methods (Barman, 2000). skewed towards older family members who view
 A comparison of the effectiveness of videos the fish pond as a critical asset for supporting
to disseminate information about aquacul- their subsistence needs in later life.
ture found that women were more able to
benefit from this medium than men in a proj- Food security
ect in Northeast Thailand (Little and In Bangladesh, small backyard ponds and ditches
Satapornvanit, 1996). are critical to supply the small wild fish used for
 Generally poorer literacy levels of women in home consumption (Thilsted et al., 1997). These
South Asia excludes their access to aquacul- resources are located within the household,
ture information to a greater extent than allowing women full responsibility and control,
men. and attempts to introduce more productive
techniques will only be successful if women are


fully involved. Indeed, aquaculture, as a relatively BOX 7.I
new activity, may even change intra-household
relationships in favour of the weaker members. Summary of key points relating to
There may be a risk to household food security if the role of gender in aquaculture
commercially orientated aquaculture is promoted
to men and larger, more valuable fish are
 The traditional role of men within the
produced and marketed (Barman, 2000).
household normally means they are target-
ed with information and support for adopt-
Intra-household relationships
ing integrated aquaculture. This may
The involvement of women can be either
explain some of the poor success of
encouraged or constrained by the nature of the
attempts to promote aquaculture.
social norms controlling power relations within
households. It may affect attitudes towards inten-  Aquaculture is a non-traditional activity in
sification and integration. Inheritance practices many cases, and for this reason the oppor-
and divorce proceedings tend to favour men in tunity for women to become involved in,
terms of retention of accumulated assets such as and benefit from, aquaculture may be
livestock and fish ponds. Control of resources used greater than other activities.
and generated by integrated aquaculture at the  Women and children frequently have
household level is often complex and the effective responsibility for management of livestock,
promotion of integrated livestock-fish requires especially small livestock.
the control of livestock and feed resources to be  Attempts to involve women, children and
understood. Matrilineal societies in both Africa men in developing appropriate integrated
and Asia may share certain advantages with practices requires analysis of how informa-
respect to females retaining or developing rights to tion can be disseminated and used within
fish production (Box 7.H). the household. The needs of women balanc-
ing reproductive roles, and childrens’ edu-
BOX 7.H cation need to be considered in training and
extension strategies.
Intra-household relationships
affect production and consumption  Power relationships within the household
can affect who can participate and benefit
from integrated livestock-fish.
 Cash from fish sales is controlled by men,
but tends to be used for household purpos-  Involving women and children in integrated
es in Zambia. livestock-fish does not necessarily benefit
them in the short or longer term.
 Although fish farming is dominated by men
in Malawi, production is limited in some
households because women refuse permis-
sion to use maize bran as a pond input. A developmental focus on certain types of
 Pregnant or lactating women are not livestock or fish can favour or disadvantage the
allowed to consume muscovy ducks (Little individuals most at-risk within the household. The
et al., 1992), geese and certain types of fish consumption of certain ‘luxury’ animal and fish
in Northeast Thailand. products is often subject to belief and social
 Consumption of raw and pickled fish with controls (Box 7.H).
drink by men in Korea results in elevated The establishment of farmer groups by
levels of parasite infection compared to gender may not be effective for extension if
women. aquaculture requires agreement and contribu-
Sources: Harrison (1984); Dickson & Brooks (1997) tions from both.


have negative effects. A major challenge is to
explore how aquaculture, for fish is typically the
‘new’ component of the food production system,
can be harmoniously integrated, improving the
efficiency by which resources are used.
The effects of household and community
access to feed resources is particularly important
as fish can compete for use of key by-products.
Modern production approaches can affect
availability of feeds and waste. The
consequences of consolidation of by-products,
and livestock that consume them, are discussed
in the light of impacts on the potential for
integrated livestock-fish culture. The
implications for resource use at the macro-level
are discussed in 7.5.3.

Using livestock waste where its use
is non-traditional
Using inorganic fertilizers or dried chicken manure
to grow back-yard vegetables. Aquaculture may
Attitudes to the use of livestock waste vary
compete for the use of these scarce resources greatly and are largely a function of the
evolutionary stage of agriculture generally.
Population pressure in particular has probably
7.4 played a major role in leading to cultural
acceptance of use of wastes (Edwards, 1992). If
Resource issues farming practices are based on extensive, crop-
dominated production with low pressure on
resources, it is unlikely that people will readily
Closer integration between livestock and fish accept manure use in fish production.
production can have impacts at the production or A lack of interest in using manures in ponds
micro-level, the community level and on a macro- sometimes also reflects the multipurpose nature
level that affects the regional or national of water bodies in which fish are stocked.
economy. Promoting integration where the use of Farmers usually refrain from manure use if water
livestock waste is not traditional is often a key is also used for drinking or other domestic
issue and related broadly to the level of evolution purposes. Some degree of eutrophication is
of the agricultural system (Chapter 2). How tolerable if alternative water for drinking is
resources such as land, water, nutrients and available and water is used only for domestic
labour are utilized to support livelihoods is related cleaning. In northern Viet Nam a variety of factors
to their availability. Rapid development and limit the use of pig manure in fishponds, not least
population change can drastically change the the need to use the water for washing and
‘resource balance sheet’, requiring radical growing aquatic weeds as a feed for the pigs. The
change in resource use. traditional shortage of nutrients for the staple
Integrated livestock-fish can lead to crop, rice, has also meant that most pig and other
competition for feed or waste use elsewhere in manures are used on these crops. However,
the farming system, and such changes to the attempts to promote the use of livestock waste in
traditional resource base, or its exploitation, can small-holder aquaculture, where its use had


BOX 7.J various inputs to make ‘green water’ three years
after they had participated in intensive farm
Overcoming constraints to using trials. (Table 7.1). There were no dominant
livestock waste in Northeast reasons given by the farmers who discontinued
Thailand fertilization.
Subsequent attempts to encourage better-off
A cultural aversion to the use of manure in farmers, who could afford to purchase them, to
ponds had to be overcome before fertilization use increased levels of inorganic fertilizers to
with manures and inorganic fertilizers was supplement limited amounts of on-farm manures,
possible. were also successful. All farmers in the trial used
 Extensive agricultural practices and low high quality monogastric manure even if they
population densities mean that few livestock had to purchase off-farm, rather than the
are raised intensively by rice farmers and ruminant manure that they only had available on-
the only manure used regularly is dried buf- farm (Table 7.2; Shrestha et al., 1997).
falo/cattle manure in rice nursery fields and
small amounts of poultry manure in veg- Competition for feed and waste
etable plots (AASP, 1996). resources
 ‘Green’ water, in this seasonally water short Introduction of a new activity such as fish culture
area, is linked in peoples’ minds to the occa- can increase the strain on the household,
sional fetid water bodies in which a crop community or regional resource base.
produced for its fibre, kenaf, is soaked to Alternatively the fish pond, through acting as a
allow the soft organic matter to decompose focus for recycling and use of manure, can be a
(‘retting’). Dead animals or pig manure are stimulus to improved farming practices generally.
disposed of in surface water with similar The availability of feeds and wastes can usually
results. be related to the level of agricultural intensifica-
tion, market structure and costs of alternatives.
 Even farmers who understood the value of
plankton as a fish food and the need for fer-
tilization, were initially hesitant until an TABLE 7.1
awareness of green water was promoted in a
positive light, focusing on its ‘cleanness’ Adoption of livestock wastes and
using a poster campaign.
other inputs in aquaculture in NE
 Increases of fish yields of up to 300 percent
also convinced farming households of the Materials Average amount Households
benefits of fertilization and stocking larger (kg. pond-1 season-1) (n=29)
seed (Edwards et al., 1991).
Buffalo manure 890.5 4
Pig manure 908.0 7
previously been minimal, have been successful Buffalo manure+urea 388.0+32.4 9
once the underlying constraints have been Pig manure +urea 45.0+189.0 1
understood (Box 7.J). Others +urea 900.0+9.0 1
An analysis of the adoption and retention of Buffalo manure+pig
methods to fertilize ponds disseminated among manure 190.0+108.0 2
farmers to whom a simple buffalo manure plus Buffalo manure+others 24.0+24.0 1
urea message had been disseminated two years Buffalo manure+urea
earlier found that farmers adapted their +others 15.0+1.5+240.0 1
knowledge of the benefits of fertilization to the Other i.e. duck manure,
resources available (Turongruang et al., 1994). silkworm waste 101.0 3
Nearly half of the farmers continued to use Source: Turongruang et al. (1994)


Livestock inventories and fertilizers used in an on-farm trial with farmers in
Udorn Thani, Northeast Thailand
Farmer Livestock owned Livestock manure used Inorganic fertilizers
(kg. pond.-1 season.-1) used (kg.ha.-1day.-1)
Ruminant chicken pig ruminant chicken pig N P

1 12 - - 1000 360 3.5 3.3

2 - 100 - 650 10.4 5.1
3 4 - 10 96 3.3 1.1
4 3 320 - 448 3.1 1.4
5 - - 7 120 2.1 1.2
6 - - 2 180 2.9 1.6
7 - - - 50 6.5 1.8
8 7 - - 1500 3.0 1.0
9 4 - - 420 0.3
10 1 - 3 150 200 5.9 3.9
11 5 - - 1150 1.8 0.1
12 4 72 - 2760 4.1 2.3
Source: Shrestha et al. (1997)

Competition for resources may be categorized efficiency or kind of resource use. Development of
into one of two types: Type 1, relating to feeds crop production, processing and marketing can
that were previously available for livestock; and totally change the availability of crop by-products
Type 2 to manures and other byproducts of for livestock and fish at the local level. Modern
livestock production used as fertilizers or fuel varieties, for example, in addition to producing
(Figure 23). Examples of the first type are the more grain can also produce more by-products
introduction of rice bran as a supplementary feed such as brans. Modern, high-yielding varieties of
for fish into a village situation in which it cereals are generally short-stemmed, reducing
competes for its use as pig and poultry feed. the amount of straw available for livestock feed
Another is the collection and/or cultivation of and bedding.
grass to feed to either grass carp or ruminants.
The diversion of livestock wastes for fish Traditional uses of cereal bran
culture, rather than conventional crop production The layer of fibrous bran surrounding the starchy
as an example of Type 2, could have major endosperm of the region’s major cereal grains,
impacts on the wider farming system, rice, maize and wheat is a key resource for
particularly in nutrient-poor environments. livestock and fish production. Rice bran in
Sustitution of inorganic fertilizers for manures, particular is critical to the production of
although achievable under short-term conditions, monogastrics, especially pigs in Southeast Asia
may be unsustainable in the long term, partly and dairy animals in South Asia. Its use as a
because of changes in soil structure and supplementary feed for fish therefore conflicts
chemistry. On a practical level, inorganic with its current use. The amount of ricebran and
fertilizers may be unavailable or expensive in other by-products (principally broken rice, husk
many developing countries. and straw) available to the household depends on
Overall agricultural and economic develop- cropping intensity, area, yield and post-harvest
ment inevitably cause changes in the relative disposal of by-products (Box 7.K). Improved


Schema showing main possible resource flows in conventional mixed farming and the
alternative use of livestock wastes in fish production

Feed Livestock


Fish Crops



Contrasting rice land holding, Characteristics of pig production in three areas
rice yield and pig production
Land holding and level of intensification affect Cambodia/Lao PDR
both rice yield and availability of by-products:
 in Northeast Thailand yields of around 1.7
Main feeds Rice bran
tonnes paddy. ha-1 are normal in the single, Cooked vegetables
annual rainfed crop. Riceland holdings of Waste human food
around 2 ha are the norm, producing 0.4
tonnes of rice bran year-1, assuming paddy
contains 12 percent rice bran. The rice Production system Scavenging
miller keeps the rice by-products as a milling Household
fee, and raises pigs which results in concen-
Current integration with fish
trations of pigs raised by fewer farmers and
generally a much poorer efficiency in the Wastage of manure +++
reuse of wastes;
Rice milling Hand milled in the household
 in areas of the Red River Delta, Northern
Viet Nam, yields of between 4-7 tonnes. ha-1
crop-1 are the norm. Two irrigated crops of Notes In one household, an average of
rice produce only between 0.2 and 1 tonnes two hours daily labour was
of rice bran as household rice holdings required to collect sufficient
are small (2 000-3 000 m2). Small holders in aquatic weeds to complement
Northern Viet Nam still raise pigs and retain the 7-10 kg rice bran and 1 kg
wastes for use on the farm. broken rice to fatten 4 pigs

+ - +++; low to high


BOX 7.L household level with the wastes produced
meeting both the needs for crop and fish
Hybrid maize enhances integrated production. Retention of rice bran by the rice-
approach producing household is a prerequisite for pig
production remaining a household level activity,
although diversification of the diet to include
Growing hybrid maize can result in more bran as
other home-produced or purchased inputs is also
well as a higher grain yield. Whereas local
important. Small-holder pig rearing was formerly
varieties produce about 290 kg grain year-1,
common in Northeast Thailand but is now
hybrids can produce 660 kg year-1. This means
concentrated in the hands of local rice millers and
farmers need to plant only 0.4 ha maize to
agro-industry. In Northern Viet Nam where
supply a 300 m2 pond with adequate bran as
household-level pig rearing remains common,
opposed to 0.9 ha required if the bran derived
production of pigs is linked closely to local feed
from a local variety of maize.
Source: Noble (1996) supplies and markets, whereas elsewhere the
introduction of mechanical rice milling by
entrepreneurs in the village appears to having
varieties and intensification can increase stimulated consolidation and specialization of
availability of bran considerably to benefit both livestock production. In turn this limits access to
fish and livestock production (Box 7.L). manure for use elsewhere in the farming system.
Benefits for the maximum number of rural A comparison of ricebran use for pig production
people probably relate to raising livestock at the in three areas of Southeast Asia reveals the char-

of Southeast Asia

Northeast Thailand Northern Viet Nam

Rice bran Rice bran

Broken rice Sweet potatoes
Concentrate Potatoes
Trash fish

Penned Penned
Mainly peri-urban or rural resource-rich e.g. rice millers Household

+ +++


Milled in village ricemill, rice by-products mainly retained Milled in village rice mill, rice by-products mainly
by miller purchased back by rice grower

Rice millers tend to waste much of their available pig 77 percent of households fatten pigs but only 10 percent
waste. In one study only 12 percent of pig producers of manure is used in the fish pond, 75 percent is used in
raised fish, but more than 50 percent gave the manure the ricefields and the balance for vegetables (Dinh, 1997)
away and others sold it for fertilizing rice or vegetables


BOX 7.M the number of livestock that can be raised in the
village, manure produced and potential fish
Increasing the village pig herd yields (Box 7.M). Inorganic fertilization of fish
in a village in Northeast ponds, together with rice bran fed directly, or
Thailand-potential impacts manure derived from rice-bran-fed livestock also
on fish production increases fish yields dramatically. In a study of
integrated farming in China, the densities of pigs
 It was estimated from a feeding trial that a produced were clearly supported by imports of
herd of around 50 fattening pigs could be rice by-products and concentrates into the area
supported in the Northeast Thai village of (Guo and Bradshaw, 1993).
Thap Hai if the animals were raised on a tra-
ditional diet based on cooked rice bran, Consequences of less manure
household scraps and aquatic vegetables. If Diversion of livestock waste to fish production,
rice by-products available in the village were rather than fertilization of terrestrial crops may
reduced to only 14 percent of a total bal- threaten the sustainable output of staple crops.
anced diet that included dried cassava chips Even when inorganic fertilizers are available and
produced in the village and purchased con- used intensively, most farmers living in the Red
centrate, the number of animals fattened River Delta, Viet Nam, believe that organic inputs
could be increased to over 400. are essential for maintaining yields. Household-
level demand for manure is so strong in this area,
 If the wastes were used for fish culture, esti-
that its relative value for fish culture must be
mated yields of 1.0-11.2 tonnes over 6
compared to its use elsewhere in the farming
months could be increased to over 12
system. Such is the farmers’ understanding of
tonnes in line with changes in both quantity
their system that the balance of manure used is
and quality of wastes produced. These fig-
probably optimal. The key role of the pig is
ures are based on total village level produc-
maintaining soil fertility in the face of declining
tion but could be based on 100 households
fertility and soil acidification is a major concern
fattening 4 pigs each or 4 households raising
(Patanothai and Yost, 1996). The possibility of
100 pigs each. The model, however,
more pig manure being used for fish culture as
assumes continuous milling of rice through
rice prices decline, or small-scale and household-
the year, which in an area of highly variable
level pig production by rice growers is replaced
out-migration practice is unlikely.
(Little and Satapornvanit, 1997)
acteristics of current systems and opportunities
and threats to adoption of integrated livestock-
Summary of key resource issues
fish (Table 7.3).
 Physical environments underlie the cultural
More livestock – more waste value of livestock and fish.
Increasing the feed resource available is a critical  Changes in perceptions of fish culture and
prerequisite to increase the carrying capacity of production of fish on livestock waste are
monogastric livestock and thus the wastes possible.
available for associated fish culture. Several ways  Changes in resource use stimulated by
exist to increase the amounts of livestock and fish aquaculture could have negative impacts on
that could be produced with the current levels of overall livelihoods.
rice by-products. Mixing limited amounts of rice
 Opportunities for resource use in aquacul-
by-products with purchased concentrates,
ture change in relation to the dynamics of
and/or more feeds raised on the farm e.g. cassava,
the wider farming system.
maize, soybean, sugar cane, dramatically increase


A traditional rice mill in Cambodia. Prior to mechanical ricemills every household would mill its own rice and
rice by-products were available for raising livestock

by large-scale production by entrepreneurs as a pond input (Gupta et al., 1998), in a country

concentrated spatially in the more favoured that uses ruminant manure for fuel and house
locations, has important consequences for the building in addition to a field fertilizer.
sustainability of the wider farming system. In areas where agriculture is less intensive,
Implications for competition for concentrates are such resource conflicts for manure and
considered further in Chapter 8. vegetation for feeding fish are less critical but
Mixed farming systems have collapsed when may also be partly attributable to the low levels
the amount of nutrients from livestock has used. Indeed, the possibilities of increased use of
drastically declined. Although this “involution” pond water for vegetable production probably
has mainly been associated with vulnerable increases the availability of green fodders that
tropical highland areas with high population could be used both for livestock and fish
pressures, changes to the balance of livestock production.
and soils are occurring elsewhere. Most mixed
farming systems in the developing world have a
negative nutrient balance (Steinfeld et al., 1997)
and any diversion of livestock wastes to fish On a regional level there are implications for
culture must be carefully considered. The key promoting aquaculture integrated with livestock
advantages of fibre-rich ruminant manure to soil or as a specialized activity, on the demand and
fertility is through improved capacity to retain price of feed grains, and the consequent
nutrients (cation exchange capacity), hold water economics of livestock production. The political
and maintain soil structure. Their value in fish economy of livestock development globally
ponds is much more limited (see Chapter 5), but favours the growth of vertically integrated
under most conditions they are still the most transnational agribusinesses producing and
widely available and used input. In Bangladesh, trading commodities, rather than improvements
88 percent of farmers used their own cattle dung in local systems for local people. Export-led


principally those of producers, intermediaries and
Where aquaculture is well-established and
commercialized, consumers benefit from greater
choice and lower prices. This has clearly been the
case for urban, poorer people in Southeast Asia
where the development of polycultures
dominated by tilapia raised on feedlot livestock
waste, have led to fish remaining affordable over
the last two decades. A survey in South Viet Nam
indicated that whereas richer people eat wild,
mainly carnivorous fish, cheaper and cultured
tilapias were favoured by the poorest (AIT/CAF,
1997). In most of Africa, where production is a
long way from being sufficiently high to drive
prices down and cultured fish are more
expensive than alternative sources, the urban
poor have yet to benefit in this way from
aquaculture (Harrison et al., 1994).
Electric and diesel powered ricemills have changed Poorer people in Asia often become involved
the availability and quality of rice by-products
available to farmers in some areas of Asia
in supply and distribution networks that develop
around integrated production systems.
Supplying inputs such as fish seed and trading
growth in agricultural commodities such as wastes and by-products are employment niches
grains or after ‘processing’ into value-added that poor people quickly occupy.
livestock or fish (‘seafood’) products is vigorously Benefits to food security may be relatively
promoted by many developing countries. Little more important for household producers who are
attention has been focused on improving nutrient ‘less successful’ at aquaculture, producing less
efficiency and reuse of wastes by such fish but tending to eat rather than sell them. Rural
organizations, except where regulatory aquaculture of this type has an important role to
authorities, mainly in developed countries have play in national food security as it may be the
enforced it (Steinfeld et al., 1997). Typically the only way that fish can be produced in scattered
solutions have been capital intensive and ‘high rural communities with poor infrastructure that
tech’ in approach but it should be remembered cannot be served by conventional market
that resource-poor people who compete to methods.
extract and use them often add value to wastes in
developing countries. 7.4.5 RISK
It has long been appreciated that livestock are a
7.4.4 BENEFITS means to reduce, or spread, risk for farmers
Diversified production of both livestock and fish (Orskov and Viglizzo, 1994). Risk aversion may
can lower risk and improve returns on land, also be an important rationale for small-holder
labour and investment. Although several studies farmers to diversify and integrate fish production
have shown that better-off households tend to (Ruddle, 1996).
have more livestock and are more likely to be fish However, diversification primarily to increase
producers (Edwards et al., 1983; Ahmed et al., income may be more common. Fish are generally
1993), integration can also benefit a range of more like small than large livestock in terms of
other people. Benefits from livestock-fish their characteristics affecting risk (Table 7.4).
integration can be viewed from different levels They are generally more marketable locally and


easier to add value post-harvest. The ability of monitoring theft tends to be more difficult than
smallholders, especially those used to seasonal for livestock, for example. However, theft of fish
abundance of fish, to deal with sudden mortalities requires specialist gear and skills and is probably
and emergency harvest of fish, is typically much more difficult than stealing small livestock. The
greater than for disposal of livestock. Fish also physical integration of livestock and fish may
have lower individual maintenance, feeding reduce the costs of providing security from loss of
requirements which allows strategic use of scarce many types however.
resources in contrast to large livestock. How farmers adopt fish culture as part of their
Integration with fish production may reduce farming system is also closely linked to their
the risk to livestock production, or the overall avoidance of risk. The perception of aquaculture
farming system on mixed farms in the tropics, in as being a high risk activity may lead to selection
several ways. Although fish are more sensitive to of an unsuitable site for pond construction, rather
shortages of water than livestock, their than an optimal site currently used to produce a
production may enhance and conserve water tried and trusted crop. Farmers may resist
availability both for livestock directly and their production of livestock near or close to fishponds
feed production. Improved stability of water if the pond is located away from the homestead.
availability is a major means for reduction of risk Their conservative behaviour is often explained
since fishponds often become a focus for diversi- by the greater likelihood of theft, of both livestock
fication. Maintaining fodder quantity and quality and fish, in such situations. Rice farmers living on
for livestock is an example of how pond culture floodplains where wild fish are still seasonally
can reduce risks associated with ruminant abundant, may only stock fish in years of low
production. Fish culture is more risky than flood when both wild fish supplies are low
livestock production in some respects. Observing (Gregory and Guttman, 1996) and the likelihood
and assessing the growth and survival of fish and of cultured fish loss through flood is least.

Large rice mills concentrate feed resources such as here in Battambang, Cambodia. This supports commercial
livestock production but may undermine household-level systems


Factors that reduce smallholders’ risk through production of livestock, fish or both

Factor Small Large Fish Does integration reduce risk for

livestock livestock either livestock, fish or both ?

1. Feeding level required to ++ +++ + Possibly, if 7 is important. Irrigation to maintain feed availability
maintain value for livestock
Integration with livestock ensures that fish are fed consistently
2. Sensitivity to lack of water + ++ +++ Water for fish can reduce water shortages for livestock
3. Local marketability ++ + +++ Local markets are more likely to be oversupplied and
alternative products are advantageous
4. Easy to estimate asset value ++ +++ + If livestock are penned for more efficient integration, their
asset value may be more apparent
5. Provide collectable nutrients + +++ + Use of livestock wastes for fish may reduce nutrient use
for other on-farm production elsewhere, increasing risk
6. Water available to +++ See 2
produce other crops
7. Opportunities for value- ++ + +++
adding post harvest

8. Ease of theft + + +++

9. Ability to monitor theft ++ +++ + As above

+ - +++; low to high

Overstocking is common practice, both in returns to labour for different components. In

terrestrial pasture management and subsistence such analyses, however, the labour inputs of
aquaculture, and may derive from farmers’ women and children have been undervalued and
attempts to reduce their risk. More, if less the complexity of integration may obscure
productive, individual livestock or fish may be a conflicts and complementarities.
strategy to counter risks of loss and improve The importance of off-farm employment
opportunities for marketing in resource-poor, options has also often been ignored, despite the
unpredictable environments. fact that if such opportunities increase in rural
areas, households adapt and food production
quickly becomes only one part of an overall
7.4.6 LABOUR
livelihood strategy. How resource-poor people at
Labour is often the most abundant resource the household level use their labour to minimise
available on small-scale farms in Asia and under- risks and optimise gains is critical in
employment is a typical feature of the rural understanding the potential and constraints to
economy. The promotion of aquaculture to integrated livestock-fish. In reality much food
provide employment opportunities is often production results from part-time farming, the
advocated but labour requirements are often characteristics of which are fashioned as much
poorly understood. Furthermore, other activities from the type of off-farm employment
may be more appropriate to resource-poor opportunities as the physical and social cultural
peoples needs. Conventional analysis of labour environment. The nature of household-level,
inputs into agricultural activities has looked at integrated livetsock/fish will depend on the


enterprises at a commercial level on a single
household basis probably explains the uneven
performance and why such systems are rare. A
major finding was that the multi-component
Comments 4 000 m2 farm absorbed only 34 percent of the
available family labour despite the relatively
high inputs required for vegetable production.
Fish are cool blooded and lose condition more slowly than The relatively low extra labour requirement for
underfed livestock fish culture within livestock operations probably
explains much of their appeal. It also explains
why livestock and fish are compatible livelihood
Small units of food can generally be sold more easily options in peri-urban areas where off-farm
employment options are more varied and
Often difficult for inexperienced fish farmers to estimate amount flexible. Ruddle and Zhong (1988) also found a
of fish in their pond high level of underemployment in the Zhujiang
Most important where nutrients are most expensive or Delta, China, at the time when management of
least available the dike/pond systems were at their most labour
intensive. At this time less than half of
The pond as an on-farm reservoir is a very important advantage
household income was derived from the dike-
in water-short situations
pond system and ‘surplus’ time available for
Sudden loss of livestock or fish may mean total loss but home
other, often off-farm employment varied from 16-
processing of fish products is relatively simple and the techniques
70 percent of the household labour budget. The
may be well known because of seasonal surpluses of natural fish
compatibility of labour requirements for
If livestock and fish are raised close to one another guarding is different components of the dike/pond system
more likely and risk of theft reduced have age, gender and seasonal aspects (Figure
Similar to (4) 24). The rapid industrialization of the region,
however, is contributing to a breakdown of the
system as labour-intensive sericulture,
relationship between fish and non-fish farm traditionally managed by young women, has
components, access to the resource base and become uncompetitive with factory
modern technology and will be related to employment and opportunity costs of land and
opportunities for non-farm employment. water have increased. Aquaculture has become
A common phenomenon related by many to more intensive, relying even more on external
declining opportunities for integrated livestock- inputs as such costs have risen.
fish is the off-farm migration of household
members. Less available on-farm labour usually Migration
results in modifications to farming practices but Migration for work can mean long periods away
may also result in benefits. The compatibility of from the farm or short-term or seasonal absences.
labour demands for fish culture compared to Household members drawn away from agriculture
livestock, other farm activities and off-farm may be men, women, the young or middle-aged.
employment of various types is critical as Migration from the farm does not necessarily
outlined below. mean less potential for aquaculture as it can result
in greater household capacity to invest in
Integration to absorb labour agriculture. However, balancing on-farm activities
Returns to labour in a tri-commodity on-campus, such as aquaculture with off farm employment
integrated farm ( livestock-fish/vegetable) were tends to be easier if employment is local.
highly favourable for fish, favourable for pigs and Options for off-farm employment often
vegetables but less so for egg ducks (Edwards change in tandem with a broader dynamism;
et al., 1986). The complexity of managing the traditional patterns of labour based on


Annual Distribution by Crop of Labor Input to the Dike-Pond System of the Zhujiang Delta,
China ( percent of Man-day Month-1Crop-1)

13 Total
12 Mulberry
11 Sugar Cane
Percentage of annual total

MONTH Source: Ruddle (1985)

reciprocity, the roles of old and young, male and aquaculture integrated with livestock
female, and the proportions of household and becoming less competitive in certain situations,
employed labour use may all be under pressure or it is likely to be an important developmental
already changed in response to new option for the foreseeable future in many
opportunities. Less labour is required as pond developing countries. Similarly, rice/fish
construction and then fish harvest have become production has been adopted as a low risk entry
more mechanized. Feeds for livestock and fish point for farmers to diversify their farming
may be produced industrially, rather than on- systems in certain parts of Asia, partly because
farm. Alternatively, labour shortages through fish culture is less labour intensive than other
migration or other causes may undermine the options. Integrated rice/fish culture, however,
productivity of, or interest in, aquaculture as it requires significantly more labour than rice alone
suffers from the labour crunch. If aquaculture, in and this factor has been one of the main driving
common with other components of the farming forces for farmers to switch from ricefield to pond
system, is marginal in terms of meeting the culture of fish in Northeast Thailand (Little et al.,
household’s needs, it is likely to be abandoned or 1996).
extensified. In one example of successful commercial
egg chicken/fish system (Engle and Skladany,
Integrated aquaculture as a 1992), the scale of operation meant that
transitory livelihood option household labour alone was sufficient and the
Although increasing opportunity costs may income produced at a level that inhibited off-
eventually result in small-holder, semi-intensive farm migration. Moreover the labour


requirements of the chicken and fish
components were considered highly favourably 7.5
compared to the far more onerous on- or off-farm
alternatives e.g. field cropping or construction
work. This situation can change rapidly when
Promotion of integrated
market access improves, land values increase livestock-fish
and off-farm opportunities become more
attractive, especially for younger people.
Expectations of younger members of the family Promoting the integration of livestock-fish
are higher, especially if they have more formal requires a clear framework to identify major
education, and can often only be met from truly factors of importance, to clarify thought to direct
commercial level enterprises. action and to aid in communication between the
The likelihood of aquaculture integrated with various stakeholders.
livestock becoming, or remaining, an attractive Clarification of purpose is a critical first step
option will be greatly affected by the cost of in promoting integrated livestock-fish. Is the
labour that in turn is linked to the wider economy. major objective to improve the livelihood of the
As rural economies change from a subsistence landless poor through employment and
focus, the proportion of landless and resource- consumption-related benefits, to stimulate
poor often grows. As this group typically has few agricultural labourers to integrate subsistence-
options in the formal economy, their employment level fish culture within their home plot, or to
in the sectors such as aquaculture and livestock support commercial farmers capable of
can become crucial to their livelihoods. The producing large amounts of fish for sale locally at
contracting out of fish harvest, trading of seed affordable prices? An important priority is to
and the removal and trading of wastes often identify the major beneficiaries of any promotion
become the preserve of such resource-poor and clarify stakeholders that could be impacted
people. by development. If substantive changes to both
Increasing median age and declining livestock and fish components are required,
household size are good indicators of changing clearly the complexity is increased. The need for
need and interest in intensification of interdisciplinarity, action at multiple levels
aquaculture with livestock. Lovshin et al. (2000) (household, local, regional) and with a range of
evaluating retention of integrated livestock-fish partners (farmers, agribusiness, extension
in Guatemala a decade after its promotion found agents) makes the task more difficult.
reduced interest in aquaculture, partly as Typically, attempts to promote integrated
children had left home and remitted urban wages farming have been made by technical scientists,
to support older family members left on the farm. often working within a narrow disciplinary mode.
Under these conditions there was less need for Failure to assess if promoting livestock and fish,
increasing fish yields and less labour to do so. In either as single activities or integrated, is
contrast, the integration of horticulture and appropriate to meet the farmers’ needs and
livestock around small, deep ponds is particularly resources is common. Alternatively, grass roots
popular with older people in Northeast Thailand organizations often recognise the need for, but
as a method to save time and labour. They fail to understand, the technical issues and
manage their ponds to meet their daily need for constraints. Although current technologies can
vegetables, herbs and spices rather than be improved, major impacts could be made if
optimising fish or any other single product. Such existing knowledge were promoted to people
people identify the convenience, and the reduced with appropriate needs and resources. Limited
time and effort spent gathering such products capacity to assimilate technology is a major
from a dwindling natural resource base, as major constraint to development in general (Juma and
incentives. Sagoff, 1992).


Participatory research with small numbers of resource-poor farmers in Northeast Thailand led to recommendations
that could be promoted to a large group throughout the region. This necessitated producing stand-alone extension
materials that could be disseminated by the Department of Fisheries through a variety of agencies present at the
local level

7.5.2 DEVELOPING HUMAN research leading towards the development and

CAPACITY dissemination of information useful for farmers. A
situation analysis should be made initially that
A wide range of factors must be considered if assesses the needs and resources for change in
livestock-fish integration is to fulfil its potential. the target group, but which also includes
Improved policy, infrastructure and institutions at identification and understanding of the impacts
national, and local levels are required, particularly of this change on other stakeholders. Some form
if poor peoples’ livelihoods are to benefit. Where of institutional analysis is also important at this
success has occurred on a local basis, it is usually stage since sustainable development is rarely
resource-richer individuals who have benefited brought about by a one–off event and the
from any research and development, and a constraints as well as potentials of responsible
generally supportive commercial environment institutions need to be understood. Identification
that has sustained the practice. and refinement of appropriate technologies and
The complexity and limited resources management through on-station and on-farm
contributing to poor peoples’ livelihoods makes trials is the second stage that should be
developing and promoting useful information to integrated with testing and dissemination of the
them particularly difficult. Facilitators with information. This third stage, developing
experience in practical livestock, aquaculture, methods to disseminate information rapidly to
and often community development are required large numbers of farmers, needs invariably to
to work together if integrated livestock-fish is to consider the complexity of the message, the
be more widely adoptable by small-scale farmers. nature of the audience and constraints of existing
extension channels. Early identification of a
7.5.3 SYSTEMS APPROACH recommendation domain, a targeted area or
beneficiaries with relatively uniform characteris-
The use of a farming systems research and
tics, and an iterative process relating
extension (FSR & E) approach to promote
development of the technology with methods to
aquaculture lags behind its use in agricultural
disseminate it, are required.
development by at least a decade. Such an
approach is essential if linkages between
livestock and fish production are to be
strengthened. The roles of the farmers themselves in the
There are three major sequential steps of research and development process have been the


focus of a major shift over the last two decades. A livestock pens, has often been relatively straight-
technology driven, “top-down” approach has forward. Much of the livestock-fish production in
been seen to fail especially for resource-poor Asia is of this nature and it has often developed
farmers in marginal environments (Chambers et with relatively little promotion by government
al., 1989). The need for participation of the agencies.
beneficiaries in setting the development agenda Such ‘top-down’, transfer of technology
and involvement in the research process has strategies have been less successful for extension
become widely accepted. The need to integrate to more resource-poor, complex and diverse
farmers’ traditional or indigenous knowledge has situations. Agricultural extension services or
been recognized. Focus on ecological agriculture agribusiness companies in developing countries
and low external-input systems have also been have often focused on ‘progressive’ or ‘advanced
recommended (Altieri and Anderson, 1986; farmers’, often as contact or model farmers,
Reijntjes et al., 1992). The need for a balanced leaving poorer people untouched by such
view on research approach in which outsiders, services (Box 7.Q).
depending on the context and existing Some improvements have been made that
knowledge base, complement the farmers’ skills have encouraged greater situation analysis and
has been proposed (Biggs, 1995; FAO, 1997a). farmer participation, such as the ‘Trickle Down
System’ (TDS) promoted in Bangladesh and
7.5.5 CONVENTIONAL Viet Nam (FAO, 1999). TDS is based on a
APPROACHES reorganization of the conventional extension
The success of intensive livestock systems is
testament to how the ‘transfer of technology’ has BOX 7.O
worked for both producers of livestock and the
feed companies that support them. In regions of Development of livestock-fish
high agriculture potential in both developed and systems in Asia
developing countries, ‘Green Revolution’
techniques have resulted in quantities of feed  Poultry-fish systems (longyam) were intro-
grains sufficient to support modern-day intensive duced into land-limited Java in the early
livestock production. Well-tested information has 1980s and have spread largely through
been extended through conventional or upgraded informal mechanisms (organic spread)
extension services to usually better-off farmers in rather than any formal extension service1.
well-endowed and relatively standard
 In Central and Eastern Provinces of
agroecological areas, latterly as the Training and
Thailand, commercial livestock-fish has
Visit system (T&V).
developed to the extent that it is a dominant
The agribusiness concerns that control
method to produce herbivorous fish and
commercial feed grain and livestock production
monogastric livestock. A wide range of vari-
have used similar approaches to deliver efficient,
ations now exist, largely as a result of farmer
vertically integrated production methods across a
experimentation and adaptation of a basic
huge range of different locations. Broiler chickens
concept to their own resource constraints of
are produced in places where agro-climatic and
labour, land, water, capital and market.
cultural conditions are highly variable. This
approach requires huge resources often not  Although livestock-fish systems are less
available to governments, and has brought common in the Philippines than Thailand,
benefits mainly to more literate, better-resourced raising fish with poultry in particular was
farmers in favoured locations. still relatively common in a recent survey
The promotion of aquaculture as an option to among commercial tilapia farmers in
recycle waste, or just to profitably utilise the Luzon2.
borrow pits produced during construction of Source: 1Kusumawardhani et al. (1994); 2Molnar et al. (1996)


Methods that farmers could use to collect poultry waste were developed with them and all extension materi-
als tested with farmers to ensure comprehension

service based on training demonstration farmers extension methods and practices and are under-
and their subsequent training of fellow fish funded and poorly motivated.
farmers. However, the basic problem remains:
effective transfer of information to poorer people
is most difficult. Rather than trickle down, ‘trickle
across’ typically occurs, as farmers with more Alternative roles for traditional extension agents
and similar resource levels benefit most from to act as facilitators and promoters to a range of
such farmer to farmer contact, leaving the basic ‘change agents’ have been proposed (Scoones et
problem of more widespread involvement of the al., 1994; Edwards, 1997). Depending on the
poor unresolved. Lewis (1997) notes that despite complexity of the technology and the degree of
a raise awareness of the need for partipatory on-farm testing required, a minimalist approach
approaches by international research may work well in which concepts and alternative
organizations and their national counterparts, approaches to farm production are presented
more rhetoric than change has occurred. The rather than prescribed packages of tested
superiority of formal scientific approaches and a technologies. Technological packages may just
top-down approach remain entrenched attitudes, be too expensive for agricultural services to
while interest and understanding in social and develop and provide in view of the diversity of
equity issues remain a low priority. possible recommendation domains (Byerlee,
Another fundamental constraint is the limited 1987) and their value too limited in terms of
capacity of most extension services and their lifetime.
fragmentation into specialist livestock and The role of extension worker as a
fisheries units with few links to broader diagnostician and advisor on available
agricultural extension. Typically their staff have techniques that can support to both livestock and
limited knowledge of production systems more fish production suggests that changes in
appropriate for the poor, have little training in professional training and management are


required (Chambers and Jigginss, 1987). The support farmers’ efforts in raising fish (Innes-
training of livestock and other rural development Taylor, Unpub). The cold chain developed to
and extension staff in basic fish culture and deliver livestock vaccines is also used to
aquatic resource management techniques would disseminate hormones for farmers to breed their
be highly desirable. The potential training own fish and assure local fish seed supply.
demand for this to occur would be high. In practice adoption of fish culture through
Brummett (1994) explains the advantages of farmer-to-farmer extension can be stimulated
vocational training delivered locally for field through a range of change agents and the
extension staff. Given the magnitude and approaches and motives to improve fish,
urgency of the job, a central role for distance livestock or crop production interact.
education for professional-level will be necessary Surintaraseree and Little (1998) found that
and would potentially meet these needs at rice/fish farming spread in Northeast Thailand in
minimum cost. this way, and that farmers’ holistic view of their
Developing capacity for promoting both system meant that benefits occurred directly and
livestock and fish by the same professionals is a indirectly through livestock, crop and fish
challenge. Castillo et al. (1992) promoting components of their system.
integrated aquaculture among small-holders in In the same region, written information on
Guatemala found that, although benefits were simple technical interventions involving the use
greater among farmers raising livestock with fish, of livestock waste and inorganic fertilizers in fish
greater technical maturity and support was culture has been taken up by up to 55 percent of
required from extension staff in its promotion. farmers receiving materials (Turongruang et al.,
However, the integration of a fish production 1994). Moreover, as this approach did not require
component within farms where livestock are contact with an extension agent, information
raised traditionally can benefit the development could be delivered through non-specialist
of both components. Although indigenous channels at low cost. The private sector can also
knowledge of natural stocks is often extensive participate in this process. Commercial media
among rural people dependent on fish, this disseminate information as attractively packaged
usually does not extend to culture because technical articles on television and printed form in
aquaculture is new or relatively recent. In many countries. Institutional structures are often
contrast, husbandry of livestock, and a barrier to this type of innovation and even when
management of the resource base, are often a more farmer-first approach is accepted,
traditional. An approach that values farmers’ implementation can be slow or ineffective. The
knowledge but complements it with ‘outside’ specialized education that professionals receive
knowledge will allow people to learn about fish has been identified as one reason (Chambers,
culture through their experience with livestock; 1993) but the cultural norms of institutions and
and concepts introduced with fish can, in turn, the wider culture typically accentuate the
educate their views on livestock production. The conservative view. Narrow outlooks on production
need to make changes to long-established, systems also require broadening to encompass
livestock management practices because fish the wider resource system and an understanding
culture, as a new component in the farming of rural peoples’ livelihoods (Edwards, 1997;
system, requires it, can act to stimulate positive Carney, 1998). (Box 7.R) Decentralized and more
change of the traditional system. Introduction of pro-active institutions are required if progress is
improved waste management primarily to ensure to be made in improving access to relevant
adequate inputs for fish production can also information by poor people.
improve the health status of livestock. Problems in the promotion of aquaculture or
Traditional livestock management concepts the integration of livestock with aquaculture are
such as nursing and fattening can be useful in not unique and need to be put in perspective
improving management of fish. In Lao PDR, a with success in other fields of rural development.
livestock extension network has evolved to Harrison (1994) noted that ‘the legacy of previous



Development of integrated livestock-fish production in the provinces

around Bangkok, Thailand

 Aquaculture is not traditional in Thailand. concentrated around the central provin-

Peoples’ appetite for fish to complement a cial city. Farmers continuing to produce
diet of rice and vegetables was met rice and raise fish as a minor crop were
through capture of wild fish and a host of much less likely to integrate livestock with
other aquatic animals until relatively fish. Farms raising fish for between 10-30
recently. Chinese immigrants introduced years were more often diversified and
aquaculture, of common carp, and operated by farmers of Chinese descent.
Chinese carps, in the early 20th century  During the 1990s, as Thailand’s industri-
although cultivation of native fish e.g. alization accelerated, the centre of inte-
Pangasius hypothlalmus, Oxyeleotris mar- grated farming has moved outwards from
moratus and Trichogaster pectoralis, on a Bangkok as land values have soared and
small-scale may pre-date this practice factories and residential areas have devel-
(Edwards et al., 1983). It was only with oped. Integrated livestock-fish has grown
the decline of the wild fish harvest and as rapidly in response to market demand
techniques for the controlled breeding of generated by urbanization and rising pur-
these species became known that their chasing power. Initially beneficiaries were
culture became more widespread. In the more urbanized people, closest to infor-
1930s attempts to popularize the culture mation, inputs and markets but recent
of Trichogaster, failed. Culture of tilapias trends indicate the entry of rice farmers
in ricefields and ponds was promoted in into aquaculture, after conversion of rice
the 1950s, and people were encouraged fields into shallow ponds. Pig and chicken
to raise fish together with pigs and poul- manure is purchased or removed free
try. One pamphlet describing how to cul- from nearby intensive operations and
ture tilapia sold over 300 000 copies in often transported by middlemen. In these
two editions at the time (Edwards et al., livestock-dense areas of Central Thailand,
1983). Irrigation projects were also begin- livestock farming at the scale required
ning to have a major effect on the avail- needs high investment, but pond culture
ability of natural fish stocks in the of fish has much lower capital costs, espe-
Chaophraya basin that dominated Central cially as the cost of mechanically con-
Thailand, especially after the completion structed ponds has steadily declined.
of the Chainat Dam and distribution sys- Improved market access and road infra-
tem in the early 1960s. structure has also reduced the entry
 In the first detailed survey of its type, it costs, opening fish culture as an option
was found that aquaculture, in a variety of for a wider range of farmers. Knowledge
forms, was practiced by around 3 percent about raising livestock and fish together
of farms in one central province, Pathum has been disseminated in the media and
Thani by the early 1980s. Integrating live- through vocational training. Credit, often
stock, especially pigs but also chickens from Government agricultural banks, is
and ducks with fish culture had become now also more widely available.
established in the early 1980s; most prac-
titioners began five years prior to the sur-
vey. Longer established operations were


development interventions has a profound even in places with suitable agro-ecological
influence on the way that rural people respond to conditions. Sustained periods of warm
new ones’ with regard to adoption of aquaculture temperatures are required for the most efficient
in Africa. Many of the problems that have beset treatment of organic wastes but in practice
extension of aquaculture and its impact in rural successful integration occurs across a wider
communities, be they poor rates of adoption or range of environments. Where the practice has
‘low’ output, are common to ‘top-down’ become established, and is today most
development initiatives in other sectors. significant, overall economic and infrastructural
development have been more important than
formal extension. A historical dependence on fish
is far more important than any tradition of
The adoption of integrated livestock-fish has aquaculture as the rapid adoption in Thailand
been uneven throughout the developing world, has shown. In certain areas e.g. West Java and


“Top down” small-scale duck-fish integration fails

 Farmers who adopted, and benefited from, materials. A standard design of pen that kept
integrated livestock-fish in Pathum Thani by the ducks enclosed over the pond water at all
the early 1980s were a small rural elite with times ensured that all the manure and spilt
significant resources. The relative poverty of feed entered the pond. If ducks are allowed to
the majority of farmers growing rice in the scavenge for a portion of their own feed, pond
same Province stimulated the concept of scal- dikes quickly become eroded, and much of
ing-down livestock-fish farming to meet the the waste lost. On-station research found that
needs and resources of ordinary rice farmers. 30 ducks kept in this way over a 200 m2 earth-
Rice farmers, especially those with poorly en pond stocked with Nile tilapia for 6 months
diversified farming systems, were more likely produced enough fish to meet all the estimat-
to seek off-farm employment, and consumed ed animal protein requirements of a family of
significantly less fish than average. The ration- five.
ale of introducing livestock-fish systems was  Unfortunately, once support for the purchase
to improve both household nutrition and of livestock feed was withdrawn, the farmers
income. Both on-station and on-farm trials were unable to sustain the system. The ration
were run to develop a technical model that given to the high-yielding ducks had to be
could be managed and sustained by resource- purchased as the farmers’ own paddy rice was
poor farmers. Farming households were unsuitable for inclusion in the balanced diet
actively involved, participating in pond con- required to maintain egg-laying rates at eco-
struction and provision of a proportion of the nomic levels. Most families found managing
livestock feed. The researcher-managed trials the high level of inputs and outputs difficult.
followed a structured design that farmers fol- A regular cash outlay for feed was required
lowed, and there was little flexibility or and the large numbers of eggs produced daily
involvement in decision-making. Egg-laying were difficult to market. The relatively large
ducks were chosen as a suitable type of live- amounts of fish produced were greatly valued
stock, as a preliminary assessment had found but the system did not fit within the farmers’
duck eggs to be readily marketable in the vil- overall resource base, with cash and time
lage and their integration with fish culture being particularly limiting.
technically feasible using locally available



An approach to understanding constraints to fish production in rain-fed

cascade tanks systems in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka

 The ancient hydraulic civilization located in As the rains begin and the upper watershed
the dry zone of Northwest Sri Lanka was tanks fill, they begin to overflow into the
based on ‘tank’ irrigation. The storage of rain- catchment of the tanks below. This allows
water in ‘tanks’, large, man-made reservoirs, upward migration of aquatic animals to repop-
within watersheds that could be used to irri- ulate upper tanks that may completely dry out
gate the crop of rice was critical to reducing during the dry season.
vulnerability to shortages of water and also  Understanding how individuals from commu-
provided an important source of fish. In the nities gain access to, and benefit from, these
last century these systems have been rehabil- aquatic resources is complex. Their intensified
itated and watersheds have become more management is a challenge. The nutrient links
densely populated. The pressure on the between management of grazing livestock
resource base has intensified, especially as and fish are clearly important and a major
the water held in these community-managed determinant of overall productivity.
tanks is used for a variety of purposes. Most Working with communities surrounding different
households rely on them for domestic water tanks in the same cascade to improve livelihoods
supply, and in the dry season they become an requires an interdisciplinary approach to
important grazing and water resource for live- understand and resolve potential conflicts. A
stock in addition to their primary purpose to stakeholder approach that builds on an
supply irrigation water for the rice. understanding of the resource base and the
 The tanks, arranged as a complex mosaic with- interactions between the various components is a
in watersheds, interact in terms of movement useful way to realise the potential of these
of both water and fish through the seasons. systems for equitable development.

the Philippines, high land costs and a relative agribusiness have supported information flow
abundance of large water bodies appears to and wider economic development has stimulated
favour the development of cage-based operations intensification of livestock production.
but pond-based fish culture has also continued to
develop, particularly in West Java with fewer
problems of land tenure for small-holders than the
In countries where economic conditions are
suitable and an entrepreneurial class has access
to land and water, integrated livestock-fish can
spread with relatively little formal support, at
least among better-off farmers. Technology
transfer by agribusiness has been effective in the
transfer of modern intensive livestock systems,
and if other resources and market opportunities
are suitable, entrepreneurs have quickly used the
waste for aquaculture and/or horticulture (Box
7.P). Where integrated practices have become
established such as in Thailand, the media and


Transferability of Asian
Experiences to Africa
and Latin America

The widespread belief that rural aquaculture has been

proven to be more appropriate in Asia than either Africa or Latin America is reviewed.
A range of shared constraints to adoption of aquaculture has been identified,
especially when integrated with livestock, using evidence drawn from evaluations of
development projects on the three continents. We firstly consider the general status
of aquaculture development and identify common features, before considering
information needs for successful adoption of rural aquaculture and the institutional
constraints to their development and delivery.

Solving the problems of poor fish seed supply and evaluations of several projects allow some broad
losses through theft and predation are as conclusions to be drawn.
fundamental to successful adoption of A summary of some key factors that explains
aquaculture by small-holders in Asia as well as the apparent dichotomy in integrated livestock
Africa and Latin America. The role of cultured /fish development among small-holders in Africa,
fish in meeting the needs of rural people is Asia and Latin America concludes the section.
compared, and many similarities identified,
especially the reliance of fish pond water to
diversify and stabilise surrounding farming
systems. Benefits from aquaculture within the 8.1
household and to non-producers are also
interpreted from developments outside Asia. General considerations
Attempts to promote aquaculture on a The broad developmental challenge in both
community-level basis have been made in many Africa and Latin America is similar to that in
developing countries and post-project Asia: populations are rapidly increasing and


environments, and thus the means to support stand-alone or integrated activities suggest that
increased numbers of people, are degrading. many of the constraints and opportunities are
Although both mean population densities and similar. A superficial review can quickly result in
absolute numbers of poor people are lower in a conclusion that attempts to promote small-
Africa and Latin America than in Asia, acute scale aquaculture in Africa and Latin America
poverty and highly inequitable development is have failed and have little future. However, one
common to all three continents. Various case holistic analysis of the causes of failure
studies of attempts to promote aquaculture as concluded that fish culture can become

Issues and problems from the perspective of aquaculture promoters in Africa, Latin

Issues/Problems Explanations/Comments

1. The development context •projects have an aquaculture focus rather than being needs-driven
•both needs identification and making the links between these and
aquaculture is problematic
• lack of awareness of off-farm factors and other livelihood options
2. Lack of sustainability of project • inadequate assessment of limitations and priorities of host institution
efforts, including collapse of • inadequate involvement of all stakeholders in needs assessment and problem
infrastructure identification
• infrastructure development focus

3. Problems in extension services: • lack of incentives, little participation in decision-making, dependence on allowances
•poor morale • training has been technically and fisheries-based
•unable to reach farmers
•inappropriate advice

4. Weaknesses in monitoring and •lack of clarity concerning overall objectives and mechanisms for their achievement
evaluation •failure to incorporate intra- and inter-household resources
•lack or inconsistent data collection
•projects over focus on data collection; unreliable and inconsistent data storage and use
•lack of understanding of demand and benefits to consumers
5. Farmers do not respond as hoped: •aquaculture may be attractive and adoptable by only a limited number of farmers
•failure to adopt •fish production below the technical optimum may meet farmers’ needs
•poor management •water resource development may stimulate other uses of water that meet farmers’ needs
•better technical advice/knowledge base required by farmers for improved yields
•limited capacity to improve yields because of resource constraints, physical factors etc.
•better-off farmers benefit most, poorest people least


established as a valuable part of rural economies in Asia have begun aquaculture without contact
(Harrison, 1994; Brummett and Williams, 2000) with foreign or government sponsored ‘projects’
and this has subsequently been demonstrated in and evaluation of impacts of individual projects
parts of southern Africa (Van der Mheen, 1998). can obscure a broader-based phenomenon.
Another issue is the degree to which success is Aquaculture in Africa and Latin America
often measured in terms of project outcomes, covers a wide range of culture systems within
which can be different to evaluation in terms of variable social, economic and ecological
the needs of farming households. Many farmers conditions. The promotion of rural, pond-based
aquaculture in both regions has often failed, as
have many other aspects of rural development,
through misconceived foreign aid projects that
America and Asia have not focused on the real needs of the
Recommendations Progress in developing integrated livestock-
fish in both rural Africa and Latin America has
been slowed by a failure to recognise and adjust
• participatory research on needs for and value of
aquaculture in specific contexts to failure (Harrison et al., 1994). Although
aquaculture in sub-Saharan Africa produces a
• see 3 below
tiny proportion of the world’s cultured fish <0.5
• livelihood analysis
percent (Lazard and Weigel, 1996), aquaculture is
traditional in Ghana (Prein and Ofori, 1996) and
• understand institutional legacy: how and why projects fail
elsewhere and survives in subsistence form in
• stakeholder analysis
many countries. It remains an important potential
•assess proposals for infrastructure in light of potential to meet
development needs focus for rural development. Demand for cultured
fish varies greatly in Africa, depending on the
• focus on institutional strengthening including managerial training
and planning capacity value of fish as a regular food item and the
availability of natural fish stocks or cheap
• revise project approaches to make them more flexible
imported fish (Lazard and Weigel, 1996).
• Reassess options for developing and extending information to
farmers In certain countries of Africa and Latin
America with suitable infrastructure and
• encourage private sector options
international connections, high-input intensive
• ensure that aquatic resource R and D is incorporated into general
rural development extension models aquaculture geared towards export has become
established. Atlantic salmon in Chile and
• ensure that aquatic resource R and D is incorporated into
general focus training locally and towards participatory intensive cage and raceway-based tilapia
approaches that seek to strengthen linkages with ARM in overall production in Zimbabwe and Costa Rica,
livelihoods of the poor respectively, are well-established, typically in a
vertically integrated mode that parallels that used
• introduce relevant and measurable indicators
for broiler chicken. In Columbia, growth in
demand by better-off consumers has made feed-
based aquaculture an alternative investment to
monogastric livestock. In such cases, richer
people control both production and consumption
• needs analysis of target group and responsive extension advice
and the impact of the industry on poorer people is
• careful selection of target group for promotion of aquaculture
A comparison of the development of fish
culture in Asia with Africa and Latin America in
terms of the perspective of both the promoters
and the farmers is instructive (Table 8.1). It
suggests that many of the constraints to adoption


of productive aquaculture are similar, as is the there is less traditional reliance on fish however.
integration of fish culture with livestock. An However, aquaculture is largely a recent
important point is that development of phenomenon in Asia, even in areas where it is
aquaculture in the three regions has not been now common (Edwards, 1996; Lewis, 1998).
homogeneous; the level of aquaculture Small ponds, often the result of the removal of soil
development in Cambodia among poor rural for construction, may be a more common feature
people is little different to that of similar groups in of land-holdings in flood prone areas of Asia. This
many parts of Africa and Latin America. inevitably reduces entry costs and risk, making
High demand for fish, often related attempts at fish culture more attractive. In
historically to high human population densities of Malawi, even small ponds are uncommon and an
river valleys and deltas, and a reliance by such important investment for average small-holders,
flood-affected people on fish to meet nutritional the majority of which have land-holdings of less
needs, has clearly been an important stimulus to than 1 ha (Noble, 1996).
aquaculture. Rural population densities in Africa Aquaculture development to meet local needs
can reach levels found in Asia and in such areas for food fish can be categorized into three stages
a greater reliance on livestock and their manure on all three continents (Box 8.a). The recent
management is found (Lekasia et al., 1998). Such acceleration in uptake of rural aquaculture over
population concentrations tend to be in highland the last two decades in areas where it has
areas, such as in the Kenya Highlands, where occurred traditionally, may be linked to earlier


Stages in aquaculture development to serve local demand

Despite differences in current status of towards a more commercial focus.

aquaculture and its perceived success, the needs  Vertically integrated operations introduced
and constraints of smallholder farmers that could but often fail as market conditions are unde-
potentially adopt aquaculture as part of their veloped.
livelihood strategy in rural Africa and Latin
America are remarkably similar to Asia. STAGE 3
 Shrinkage in number of operators as low
input-output fish production has a further
 Little aquaculture adoption, enough wild fish.
reduced role in livelihood systems; more off-
Early adopters are entrepreneurs, often ethnic
farm labour, better infrastructure reduces role
or religious minorities. Limited demand,
of pond as on-farm reservoirs and food pro-
indigenous fish preferred.
duction generally.
STAGE 2  Commercial and vertically integrated con-
 Early adopters become seed producers; com- cerns compete, driving price of fish down.
petition among food fish producers stimulates Sustainability of household-based commercial
integration with livestock and other resource production and integration with livestock
uses. depends on ‘macro’ factors such as feed
 Secondary, more numerous adopters of aqua- prices and environmental controls.
culture, many retain a subsistence approach  Early adopters may use assets to diversify
and ponds are multipurpose. Characterized away from food fish production to ornamental
by a broadening range of how aquaculture fish production or unrelated services,
benefits people, especially the poor, through urban/professional livelihoods.
service and consumption. A minority develops


adoption by a small minority and these may be (Harrison et al., 1994). A similar tendency is
more numerous and concentrated in Asia than common among small-holders in Asia, for whom
elsewhere. Examples of all three types may be the pond is an important social asset as a larder
found in Africa, Latin America as well as Asia. or convenience store, especially if regular food
needs are met in other ways. Usually, and
especially where the culture of wild fish is
8.2 traditional, the availability of skills and materials
to catch fish is not a constraint. However, the
Information needs widespread availability of very cheap modern
synthetic net material in rural Asia may be an
The need for appropriate information to allow important difference to large areas of Africa and
households with few resources to adopt the Americas.
aquaculture ‘successfully’ has rarely been
appreciated by promoters. Some observers have
linked the failure of African aquaculture to an
absence of a tradition of livestock management in
general in which fish are treated in ponds
similarly to small livestock i.e. left to fend for
Institutional constraints
themselves and used for special needs (Hickling, The capacity and sustainability of institutions
1971; Harrison et al., 1994). But this is a similar working to promote aquaculture are key factors of
situation in much of Asia where there is also little success or failure. A major constraint to
indigenous knowledge about aquaculture among institutions working effectively to improve poor
the many rural households for whom it could be household’s nutrition and income through
an option. The key gaps of knowledge that affect aquaculture has been their technically-led
African farmers also inhibit small-holder fish approach (AIT, 1994). This is an aspect common
culture in Asia. Commonly, people dig ponds with to development efforts almost everywhere. Until
initial enthusiasm but little or no nutrients are recently, this was the case as much for national
used in the pond and fish yields are low. Such agricultural research centres as for international
under-fertilization, either through poor access to agencies. Furthermore, linkages and ‘active
nutrients or limited understanding of the concept, partnerships’ have often been lacking between
often leads to expectations remaining unfulfilled. these types of institutions and field-level
Poor stock management in which seed with low organizations that have contact with large
resistance to predation are under or over-stocked numbers of rural households. Lewis (1998)
is also common. This again may partly be related describes the institutional constraints to effective
to a lack of knowledge but it may also indicate the development for the poor in Bangladesh under
farming household’s motivations as indigenous conditions of ‘resource constraints’, not
carnivorous fish may be preferred to cultured fish resources constraints for poor farmers but for
species. Lewis (1997) reports that lack of competing professionals, and this country has
knowledge rather than credit constrained poor one of the developing worlds’ best financed
households managing small ponds and ditches programmes for promotion of rural aquaculture.
profitably for aquaculture in Bangladesh. As Lewis (1998) wrote: ‘it is tempting to suggest
Prolonged culture cycles are also a that ICLARM and FRI need each other far more
widespread phenomenon. The tendency for for the individual institutional survival of each
farmers to hold fish for extended periods has been agency than the average low income farm
related to the pond being viewed as an asset and household in Bangladesh needs new technology
as a savings bank rather than as a unit of for aquaculture’.
production. Poor harvesting technique or Although participatory methods that work
equipment and a lack of knowledge about growth within the social and economic constraints of the
and breeding patterns have also been implicated target beneficiaries are required, a lack of


relevant, generic information has been a common Highly dispersed, rural households has been
need of grass-roots development organizations associated with the difficulty of effective
working with farmers almost everywhere. This is extension in Africa but such conditions are also
often as true for livestock development as for common to many under-resourced, conventional
aquaculture. Applying concepts, techniques and extension services in Asia. On-farm, group-based
management to specific conditions in training is an effective and practical solution and
partnership with the beneficiaries is a complex also an approach that has proved more relevant
and highly skilled task. A major problem is that and cost-effective in places with higher
the skills to do this are not taught at most population densities. Even when limited budgets
universities or colleges; the much greater range for field-level, extension staff and operating
and availability of institutions delivering budgets have constrained the impact of
education in aquatic resource management in programmes to actively promote fish culture in
Asia than elsewhere has not returned the rural areas, a consistent presence can, over time,
expected benefits. Typically the focus is natural be an important stimulus and support for early
sciences alone and Masters level graduates have adopters. This has been demonstrated by both
little if any direct experiece at the village pond government and non-government efforts in
side (Lewis, 1997). Improved training of field-level Northeast Thailand (Little and Satapornvanit,
staff that focus on holistic and interdisciplinary 1996).
skills are an urgent need throughout less Similar problems that have confronted
developed countries. institutions attempting to promote aquaculture
As a general rule, human resource in Asia have been identified for the other two
development precedes natural resource regions. Indicators of rejection of fish culture
development and this is best carried out locally such as abandoned ponds and sub-optimal fish
(Brummett, 1994). The current reliance on limited management are as typical of rural Asia as they
numbers of poorly trained and motivated are of Africa and Latin America.
extension staff to promote aquaculture occurs In the past, there was a similar emphasis on
throughout the developing world. This has been a renovation and rehabilitation of Government
major constraint in both Asia and Africa. For ponds, farms and hatcheries without considera-
example, the national country-wide extension tion of their effectiveness and their longer-term
service in Bangladesh is based on one extension sustainability. Planning to ensure realisable
officer in each thana, a local government unit objectives, operating budget and staff motivation
with about a quarter of a million people (Lewis, have often been insufficient. Prevailing institu-
1998). Perhaps inevitably, especially as tional cultures that are not responsive to the
production targets rather than poverty reduction needs of poor farmers in rural areas are often a
have tended to drive extension efforts, the focus fundamental problem. Such factors have often
in many countries has often been on richer, more been made worse by aquaculture being located
accessible farmers. within fisheries departments or D’eaux et Foret,
Regular and prolonged contact does not rather than within a broader agricultural exten-
necessarily result in effective adoption, especially sion service (Harrison et al., 1994; FAO, 1997a).
not if the farmers’ needs were ill-understood Development of managed aquatic resources
and/or extension agents’ information is not usually part of a coherent national plan and
inappropriate. The lack of long-term, field level opportunities for synergism are lost; aquaculture
implementers in a project in Guatemala was in particular, is typically accorded low priority.
identified at the time as a major constraint to Structural adjustment, or roll-back of government
success (Castillo et al., 1992), but post-project support for extension also takes a toll on the
evaluation has recently suggested that lack of conventional extension approach. Even when
technical knowledge was not the major reason for fisheries development is accorded a high priority,
farmers neglecting or abandoning fish culture performance is often affected by a limited
(Lovshin et al., 2000). capacity of the institutions to plan and manage,


and poor co-ordination within and between BOX 8.C
organizations, including many internationally
funded and staffed donor projects. Institutional issues constraining
Better integration of institutions promoting aquaculture development common
household-level livestock and fish culture could to Asia, Africa and Latin America
have many tangible benefits, particularly in
poorer countries with few resources. This has  No review of history and mistakes.
been demonstrated in the Lao PDR where  Emphasis on infrastructure rather than solv-
responsibility for extension of livestock and fish ing persistent managerial/technical prob-
production by the same local level extension staff lems.
has proved beneficial (Innes-Taylor, pers comm.).
 Focus on over-ambitious fish yield targets;
Research is typically separated from extension
often not set in any framework of overall
and focused towards on-station, bio-technical
nutritional/cash needs.
issues rather than being responsive and problem-
 Lack of realistic and measurable indicators.
orientated. Even if research on ‘low input’ systems
is prioritized, on-station research will still often  Extension service become data collectors for
mis-target research efforts (see Box 8.B). sophisticated, unsustainable data-bases.
Many of the institutional constraints to  Poor quality of training for extension staff,
development are exacerbated by the project dissemination of inappropriate messages.
approach of foreign donors. Indeed the complexity
 Extension staff mainly biologists not trained
of issues, mixed motivations and negative
in extension.
 Close linkage with fisheries rather than agri-
BOX 8.B cultural extension.
 Promotion through unsustainable provision
Poorly targeted research for of inputs and services.
resource-poor farmers

 Standard recommendations for semi-inten- interactions between various ‘partners’ in

sive aquaculture in India were highly suc- development projects are often major causes of
cessful for resource-rich farmers in Andra failure to impact positively on target
Pradesh but largely irrelevant for the beneficiaries. The need for leadership from local
resource-poor. actors rather than external development agencies
 Fertilizer regimes developed at AIT for opti- per se has been identified by Brummett and
mal production were not adopted by a large Williams (2000) as a key requirement to stimulate
proportion of risk-averse farmers in successful rural aquaculture. Generally in Asia
Northeast Thailand, despite proven and this has not required ‘research’ but rather the
potentially high returns (Turongruang et al., introduction of ideas and concepts and their
1994). This has since been exacerbated by adaptation by progressive farmers.
the recent economic crisis which resulted in The ‘critical mass’ among the private sector
a sudden and steep rise in the price of inor- in large parts of Asia is now a major driving force
ganic fertilizers. for development. It can give the impression that
institutional constraints were, and remain, less
 Project-based research aiming to support
important here than in Africa or Latin America.
fish culture by smallholders in Central and
However, adoption of aquaculture by poor people
Northern regions of Malawi was based on
remains far from complete in Asia and
animal manures that were practically
institutional constraints are, as in Africa and
unavailable to the farmers.
Latin America, are of major importance and
Source: Dickson and Brooks (1997) largely unresolved (Box 8.C).


Promoting self-sufficiency
Seed supply of fish seed
Poor seed supply has been a major constraint to
sustainable adoption of fish culture in all three Tilapia culture was promoted in both Panama
regions. Adoption of fish culture in the past in and Guatemala to encourage self-sufficiency of
traditional areas of Asia depended either on seed and reduce dependence on government
capture of wild seed of Chinese and Indian major supplies of carps:
carps from rivers, or household-level spawning of  supplies of carp seed from government
common carp. Induced breeding of carps in the hatcheries in Panama were unreliable, com-
1960s led to available seed of these species, at munity pond operators were trained in
least adjacent to large, central hatcheries. A tilapia seed production techniques;
focus on self-sufficient strategies based on  after 14 years, most projects still raising fish
mixed-sex tilapias has been most successful in were not self sufficient in tilapia seed and
many countries in both Africa and Latin America remained dependent on the government for
and they have also proved important in much of restocking;
Asia. Technical specialists have long perceived a  a lack of water, difficulties in managing fry
reliance on tilapias that breed within the culture production on a community basis, and con-
system as both a handicap and opportunity for tinued availability, often subsidised, of seed
the development of aquaculture in Africa (Lazard from the Government were major reasons
and Legendre, 1996). Alternative species, which for this;
are more dependent on government hatcheries,
 smallholders continuing to stock carps
such as carps and catfish have proved less
remained dependent on government sup-
sustainable. Projects in Cote d’Ivoire, Central
plied seed in Guatemala. Most of the aqua-
African Republic, Congo, Cameroon, Madagascar
culture sustained was based on stocking
and Niger promoting aquaculture around a fry
mixed-sex tilapia obtained locally.
production facility found a number of common
constraints (Box 8.D), but these have also been
identified as being relevant in much of Asia situation was also found in Northeast Thailand
(Shrestha et al., 1997). Where private sector before private sector fry production boomed in the
hatchery production was stimulated, as in Cote mid to late 1980s (Little and Muir, 1987).
d’Ivoire, and 60 percent of the fish stocked by the Poor seed supply has undermined project-led,
project were produced by farmers, continued sub- aquaculture promotion in Latin America and
sidised central production probably constrained Asia. Government hatcheries were unreliable
this private sector development. The same sources of seed but attempts to promote self-
sufficiency among farmers, even of mixed-sex
tilapias, met with uneven success (Box 8.E). If
Constraints to fish seed government-based carp seed production has
production in Africa proved largely unsustainable in Africa and Latin
America, its success has also been patchy in
Asia. It is likely that poor demand for exotic carps
 High operating costs of Government stations. has often been underestimated as a major cause
 Low levels of technical expertise. for this failure, which occurred in countries such
 Logistical problems in dissemination of seed as the Philippines and Sri Lanka. In countries
to farmers. where riverine carps are indigenous, such as
Source: Lazard and Legendre (1996) China and India, their controlled reproduction


and that of other introduced carps became using the water, fish and other products depend
rapidly established within the private sector. on their resource base and needs. The availability
Countries in which distribution of wild caught of other livelihood options and relevant
seed through trading networks pre-dated information are also critical to determining how
hatchery development, such as Bangladesh and farmers use their water resource. Farmed fish are
Viet Nam, witnessed a particularly rapid spread. an asset that can be used directly for home
consumption or reducing cash expenditure on
food. Easy access to cultured fish can also reduce
the time spent catching wild fish. Products from
8.5 the pond may be sold, bartered or given away, in
expectation of later reciprocation.
Theft and predation The reasons for agencies to promote, and for
Theft is a commonly mentioned risk to small- the farmers to adopt, aquaculture are complex.
holders fish culture, restricting its adoption The idea that successful small-scale aquaculture
throughout the developing world. The fact that is commercial in Asia, as opposed to subsistence
‘theft’ may actually be caused by predation of in Africa (Hecht, 2000), is simplistic. Low
carnivorous fish, mammals and birds is often population density, abundant land and demand
overlooked. Theft from ricefields stocked with for fish initially motivated households to try
fish was a common constraint in Thailand and aquaculture in Luapula, Zambia. Farmers were
elsewhere where traditionally only the rice was less concerned with fish production becoming a
individually managed and other foods common source of income than other factors. In contrast,
property (Little and Satapornvanit, 1996). resource pressures made income generation the
‘Redistribution’, either through purposeful theft main motivation for digging and managing
or accident through flooding to neighbours or ponds in Western Kenya. Markets and market
extended family, is also common in Africa and channels were also better developed in the latter
Asia. Aquatic environments make fish and other (Harrison, 1994). A similar contrast could be
aquatic products more difficult and risky to drawn between the market responsive farmers of
manage than terrestrial crops. Escaped fish are Northern Viet Nam and subsistence-focused
almost impossible to reclaim as they cannot be households in less developed and populated parts
easily marked for identification. Individual of Southeast Asia. In the subsistence economy of
growth and survival is problematic to monitor, Rwanda, Hishamunda et al. (1998) found that
making strategic theft hard to detect. tilapia culture benefited household welfare much
Proximity of cultured fish to the homestead, more through income generation rather than
or availability of male household members to home consumption as an enterprise within the
guard isolated ponds, are important factors farming system.
reducing the risk of theft, however. The amount of fish cultured by households
may have less impact on diets and income than
is often assumed. In Africa, farmers most
successful at producing fish also obtained
8.6 significant quantities of fish from wild stocks and
markets (Harrison et al., 1994). Fish culture had
Demand less impact on their household food security than
The motivations for attempting aquaculture by households producing less fish themselves, but
small-holders in Asia mirror the range observed with poorer access to alternative sources.
by Harrison et al. (1994) in Africa. Generally Aquaculture was promoted in Northeast
farming households will view the pond, and the Thailand for decades before the impact of the
fish in it, as part of a portfolio of assets and relatively small amounts of cultured fish were
opportunities. Their strategies for managing and placed in context with the generally far more


important quantities of fish purchased or caught BOX 8.F
from the wild (Prapertchob, 1989; Little and
Satapornvanit, 1996). What happens to farmed fish in
Demand for any type of food reflects cultural rural Africa, Latin America and
norms, availability of substitutes as well as Asia?
purchasing power and resource wealth. In much
of Southeast Asia, fish consumption, by choice, Farmed stocks contribute to household food
can reach levels of 60 kg. caput-1 year-1 security through:
(Sverdrup-Jensen et al., 1992). Clearly, rural  direct consumption to substitute for declin-
households raising fish often have a range of ing wild stocks;
options. Subsistence may still be the major  direct consumption allowing more valuable
objective of small holders raising fish, even when wild stocks to be marketed off-farm;
fish is highly marketable locally. More than half of
 indirectly through sale for cash as less valu-
farmers stocking fish in Northeast Thailand sell
able, small wild fish are available and used
no fish (AIT/DOF, 2000) and Lovshin et al. (2000)
for subsistence.
found that a similar proportion of smallholder fish
culture in Guatemala was subsistence-based.
Farmers may also view entry into aquaculture as limited to consumption of marine fish by coastal
an option to reduce risks associated with communities; inland populations in these semi-
declining abundance of wild stocks or to arid environments traditionally have little access
substitute cultured for more valuable wild fish in to freshwater fish. Large-scale irrigation of inland
the diet (Box 8.F). areas of these countries, such as the Punjab in
The need to intensify either livestock or fish Pakistan, did little to change traditional attitudes
production to meet food security and cash needs and fish consumption levels have remained low.
is still undeveloped in parts of both Africa and the Demand for fish in these countries is growing
Americas, but this reliance on natural more rapidly among urbanized populations than
populations or extensive production methods in rural areas.
also remains the case in parts of Asia (Little and
Edwards, 1997). Traditional livelihoods have often
been affected by opportunities in urban markets
but have yet to develop towards more intensive
food production. As a result, interest in livestock Multi-purpose use
and fish production may remain low even while
households lack food. In parts of Ghana, the
and benefits
importance of highly marketable bush meat A common phenomenon is the value of ponds
constrained interest in small livestock that are being recognized by rural people in more holistic
commonly raised but used mainly for ceremonies terms than planned by promoters working
and as an emergency reserve (Ruddle, 1996). towards fixed technical goals. Success in
Project-affected households farming fish tended meeting demand has to be considered in more
to sell their game and eat their own cultured holistic terms than fish yields alone. Production
fish. levels of fish in both household and community-
Clearly the development of aquaculture will level ponds in Latin America were not sustained
be slower where fish and other aquatic products at levels that met the expectations of their
are a less important part of traditional diets. promoters. Ponds were managed principally as a
Levels of fish consumption are far higher in parts source of irrigation water for rice and/or
of Africa and Latin America than many areas of vegetables once project support was withdrawn.
Asia. In Iran and Pakistan for example, traditional They were also an important resource for
consumption levels are very low and mainly watering livestock. Evaluating the contribution of


fish alone towards household food security is emerging problem in areas of resource scarcity
therefore misleading. Ruddle and Prein (1998), where, incidentally, conditions are often suitable
modelling the value of pond water in Ghana, for aquaculture. Use of low-lying wetland areas
found that water used for vegetables had more (dambos) in Luapula, Zambia for fish pond
impact on cash generation and household food construction stimulated a scramble for resources in
security than the limited output of fish from small which other uses and users were excluded
ponds. Even significantly increased levels of fish (Harrison et al., 1994). The same is clearly an
production were found to have marginal impacts. impact of successful aquaculture adoption in
Increased interest in ponds during prolonged Bangladesh where drainage of common property
periods of drought, principally for the value of the water bodies for privately-owned ponds and
water stored for vegetable and livestock encroachment by rice growers is reducing the
production rather than stocked fish, was common availability of small indigenous species of particular
to smallholders in Malawi (Noble, 1996) and importance to the poor (Thilsted et al., 1997).
Northeast Thailand (Surintaraseree and Little,
1998). The value of the ‘fishpond’ as a Intra-household
multipurpose resource has been accepted in Asia The focus on extension of aquaculture
perhaps longer; water resource projects were technology to male head-of-households has been
occasionally ‘disguised’ as fish culture projects in questioned for a variety of reasons in Africa, Latin
the 1970s and 1980s to fit with donors interest in America and Asia. Again, there is probably as
aquaculture development. The major purpose much variation within as between these
from the outset, however, was rehabilitation of continents, with respect to how decisions of
community water bodies to meet a variety of resources are used and benefits distributed.
needs. Holistic analyses of the role of pond and Unequal opportunities within the household to
ricefield-based aquaculture within diversified use and inherit land (and ponds), obtain credit,
farming systems elsewhere in Asia point to their market or distribute products and access
importance as a multi-use resource, particularly information occur widely. Gender-blind planning,
where off-farm irrigation is lacking. with negative consequences, has typically been
the norm as has a failure to understand other age
and power relationships within and between
households. Intra-household relationships may
8.8 be particularly important where food is scarce.
Insufficient staple and complementary crop
Beneficiaries production underlying the malnutrition of
Non-fish farmers resource-poor households farming fish in Ghana
Efforts to promote aquaculture have typically are exacerbated by cultural factors governing
focused on a sub-set of individuals within intra-family food consumption.
communities and, indeed, within households.
They have often ignored broader resource issues, Community and group-based
and benefits and disadvantages, that result for development
the wider community. Clearly access to, and Promoting aquaculture to groups of farmers has
exploitation of, community water and nutrient been tried with varying success in all three
resources by some individuals can impoverish regions. Sometimes groups are used as the
others. However, non-fish producers may benefit extension focus for either individual household-
from aquaculture through improved availability based production, or for a community-based
and lower priced fish. activity. Efforts to ensure equitable development of
Reduced access to land and water by poorer aquatic resources have often been an incentive to
people as it is appropriated for use for aquaculture promote community or group-based aquaculture.
by richer people appears to be a significant A community approach may also result from a lack


of potential for the targeted group to have Community approaches to extension have
individual ponds, or the fact that the water proved successful in Asia. In Bangladesh such
resource already exists but is underutilized. Rural are the social constraints to targeting
communities are often situated around natural aquaculture development to the poorest in the
water bodies. In addition to them being a source of community, a whole village approach has
water, they also typically act as drainage basins for achieved good results. Such community
livestock and other wastes, and are often highly development is not only efficient in terms of
productive as a result. Sometimes, often as part of extension effort, but the inclusive approach also
efforts to integrate rural development, livestock ensures that social tensions are not
components have been actively promoted, such as exacerbated between wealthier people and
in the Village Fish Pond Project in Northeast poorer groups. The participatory techniques
Thailand (Box 8.G). that support the approach have also allowed
A range of management issues reduce social constraints, such as participation by
opportunities to intensify production, although women in pond activities, to be overcome by
provision of alternative domestic water supply encouraging peer support and evaluation
overcomes some of the problems. Many (NFEP, 2000).
similarities can be found with the situation in The relatively high retention of livestock
Panama (Box 8.H) where efforts to promote the integrated within community pond systems in
use of community ponds for fish production have Panama, albeit on a more extensive and less
resulted in multiple uses and products being consistent level than envisaged by the project
developed, but fish yields well below those planners, is noteworthy. External factors (roads,
technically possible. feed availability and marketing opportunities)


Factors affecting the success of integrated livestock aquaculture in

community managed water bodies in Northeast Thailand and Lao PDR

 The nature of current interaction with live- provision of shallow well nearby2.
stock. Conflicts arising through access of  The level of regular stock management and
large ruminants to wallow in community harvest.
ponds are resolvable through access restric-
 Active village committees, representative of
the community and reactive to their needs are
 Spatial location of community ponds and set- critical. Benefits need to be seen to be accord-
tlement pattern of the community1. ed to the community as a whole, rather than
 Traditional management and feeding systems benefit a small elite.
e.g. free-range ducks, liable to theft of eggs  Continued access of the poorest to non-fish
and animals led farmers to pen ducks in the resources e.g. aquatic plants, crustaceans,
homestead plot, reducing access of ducks to amphibians and snails4.
water body once intensified1.
 Management of stocked community ponds
 Use of pig manure allowed the benefits of and reduced fishing effort resulted in an
integration to be appreciated before pigs increase in the role of the pond as a refuge for
were relocated to household-managed ponds. wild fish species with potentially beneficial
Many households abandoned pig production effects on seasonal rice field fish yields5.
after initial subsidies were withdrawn1.
 Requirements for an alternative water source Sources: 1AASP (1996); 2Garaway (1995); 3Garaway (1999);
4Lorenzen et al. (1998a); 5Lorenzen et al. (1998b)
for domestic purposes were resolved through


had become more positive since project
inception. There is also evidence that access to 8.9
benefits had become more concentrated towards
single owners and related kin. The focus on using Comparing the regions
ponds for rice production suggest that this was a A range of factors can be identified that have
de facto ‘privatization’ of the community influenced the belief that rural aquaculture has
resource (Lovshin et al., 1986). met with more success in Asia than either Africa
The timing of interest in intensified fish or Latin America (Box 8.J). The analysis suggests
production is often critical. An expected future that a generally higher population density in Asia
shortage of fish stimulated attempts at low input and greater relative reliance on aquatic food in
community aquaculture in Nigeria, but the most rice-dominated agroecologies explains
relatively high residual wild fish availability and a much of this dichotomy, but that aquaculture
poor understanding of the social issues integrated within the farming system can often
undermined the attempt (Thomas, 1994). The be relevant to the needs of poor rural people. The
constraints identified to (Box 8.I) have also basic constraints to adoption of aquaculture by
occurred in Asia with similar agro-ecological and this group, and its integration with livestock, are
social environments. similar.


Promoting community-level aquaculture in Panama

In Panama the promotion of aquaculture among Unfortunately, an evaluation of the benefits from
organized groups of poor farmers (campesinos) these activities was not presented but it seems
was supported through training, assistance in likely that the current utilization was meeting
pond excavation and setting up integrated some needs of the communities involved.
livestock and crop production over a two year
period A range of social, economic and technical factors
were identified to explain this, all of which could
Early evaluations found that: be drawn from projects in Asia:
 groups worked best when the community was  lack of timely availability of fingerlings hin-
not highly stratified; dered the efficient use of ponds;
 groups in communities with relatively few  groups found it difficult to manage livestock,
public and private commercial services; especially financing inputs. Livestock num-
 groups with their leadership drawn from with- bers and management were ‘sub-optimal’ but
in, rather than elites, were most sustainable. this was the only major source of nutrients
entering the ponds in community projects;

After a period of 14 years, an evaluation found  poor site selection, especially when water
that adoption had not been sustained at the level, retention was poor and culture seasonal;
or in the manner, planned. Fish production levels  out-migration of the young, reducing labour
had declined and direct nutritional benefits from availability e.g. men leaving for construction
fish judged minor since the time of the project. industry;
However, the community had generally adapted  difficulties in managing loans;
ponds to produce rice, which were often
 land ownership issues of community projects.
integrated with fish culture, and continued to use
them as a focus for livestock and fruit production. Source: Lovshin et al. (2000)



A failed attempt at community aquaculture in Nigeria

Situated in the Hadejia-Nguru wetlands of  poor levels of education (literacy and numer-
Northern Nigeria, a community approach to acy) prevented the community monitoring
aquaculture was promoted in a village of 1200 the project effectively;
people. Although fish production per hectare was  fishers were reluctant to contribute even low
171 percent greater in managed compared to value fingerlings because they were not con-
unmanaged ponds, and returns to labour were vinced of a return;
favourable to alternatives, the project was not  change in how the fish were harvested and
sustained: disposed of conflicted with traditional prac-
 the technology was ‘simple’ i.e. wild seed tices;
surplus to catches of food fish stocked in  reduced rights of access to certain groups
ponds fertilized with cow manure; which increased social tensions between eth-
 poor levels of community participation were nic groups;
related to:  aquaculture didn’t meet the needs of particu-
a lack of any custom of community fishing, larly the poorer people who would rather
and catch 1 kg of wild fish than obtain more fish
 inappropriate management structure, later.
despite being based on indigenous
institutions and maintaining linkages with
State organizations. Source: Thomas (1994)


Factors influencing the relatively lower success of rural aquaculture in

Africa and Latin America than Asia

1. Greater dominance of ‘projects’ in evaluation similar role to that in Asia. This may be relat-
of success, criteria for success and farmers ed to (3) and a lack of traditional wild seed
attitudes to inputs. Greater importance in the collection and use.
‘culture of development’ to adoption. 5. Lower population densities and need for cul-
2. Less availability of markets and market chan- tured fish and on-farm irrigation also reduces
nels for inputs such as cheap, synthetic net effectiveness of change agents in aquaculture
materials. and other new activities.
3. Less long term consistent attempts to pro- 6. Less traditional importance of freshwater fish
mote aquaculture by Government and NGOs. in the diet. Relatively smaller proportion of
4. Less core resources developed in terms of the population in Africa and Latin America
early adopters that can support new entrants, where fish and aquatic products constitute a
although where they have, suggestive of a major proportion of dietary animal protein.