Investing in Aquaculture for Food Security

11 May
by eir@si


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Food security clearly is more than just food production, nutrition, or food aid. Alleviating hunger, a severe manifestation of poverty, depends in the long run on sustainable and broad-based economic growth and income generation. In many poor countries, these depend on a productive, competitive, and sustainable agricultural sector. To achieve these conditions, countries must invest in rural areas to strengthen agriculture, aquaculture, the food system, and infrastructure, and to restore and conserve critical natural resources for agricultural production. This requires both public and private investment — domestic and foreign.

However, this is not enough. All sectors of civil society must work together if we are to succeed in our objective to achieve food for all. Investing in agriculture and aquaculture for food security means that grassroots and local efforts together with government, the private sector, multilateral and bilateral efforts at national level should all be focused on a common vision and agenda for food security .  Food security is defined as: “…all people, at all times, having the physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food in order to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (World Food Summit Plan of Action 1996)

   . Aquaculture can contribute to improved food security and nutrition through various channels: local food supplies can be improved through the increased availability of low-cost fish; employment opportunities and incomes can be raised; and consumption of fish can be increased directly. While increasing the quantity and variety of fish and other foods consumed by the poor will reduce under-nutrition, such dietary improvements are not automatic benefits of aquaculture development. Food consumption and good nutrition are not determined solely by how much food is produced or available. Households must have physical and economic access to an adequate amount and variety of food, and household heads and care-givers must have the time, knowledge and motivation to make the best use of the household’s resources to meet the food and other basic needs of all members. The key to securing the maximum nutritional benefits from aquaculture development is to ensure that the poor and undernourished gain greater access to the increased supplies of fish and that they can enhance their aquaculture-derived income.

    . Fish can make a unique contribution to efforts to improve and diversify dietary intakes and promote nutritional well-being among most population groups. Fish have a highly desirable nutrient profile providing an excellent source of high quality animal protein that is easily digestible and of high biological value. Fatty fish, in particular, are an extremely rich source of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), so important for normal growth and mental development, especially during pregnancy and early childhood. Fish are also rich in vitamins and minerals (especially calcium, phosphorus, iron, selenium and iodine in marine products).Fish therefore can provide an important source of nutrients particularly for those whose diets are monotonous and lacking in animal products. Increasing the availability of fish in the diet increases palatability and leads to increased consumption of a range of foods thereby improving overall food and nutrient intakes.

    As mentioned, fish are important sources for many nutrients, including protein of very high quality, retinol (Vitamin A), vitamin D, vitamin E, iodine and selenium. Evidence is increasing that the consumption of fish enhances brain development and learning in children, protects vision and eye health, and offers protection from cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The fats and fatty acids in fish, particularly the long chain n-3 fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), are highly beneficial and difficult to obtain from other food sources. Of particular importance are eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3, DHA). A review of the benefits of fish consumption for mothers and infants was published by FAO in 2000.       .

       . Economic feasibility studies have shown that aquaculture is economically feasible under many different circumstances. Many types of low-cost, low-risk, simple technologies have emerged in recent years. Comparative studies between rice, rice-fish and fish-farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa demonstrated that farmers investing in aquaculture increased their household incomes considerably with only minor investments. In Europe, USA, China and other Asian countries the increases in production and the number of people active in aquaculture over the last decade have shown that production systems ranging from extensive to highly intensive can be economically feasible.

most of the world’s farmers are small-scale farmers. As a group, they are the biggest investors in agriculture and aquaculture. They also tend to have inadequate or precarious access to food themselves. If they can make a profit with their farming, they can feed their families throughout the year and reinvest in their farms by purchasing fertilizer, better quality seed and basic equipment.

Small producers face many obstacles beyond their control: lack of credit, insecure land tenure, poor transport, low prices and poorly developed business relations with agribusinesses – to say nothing of natural factors such as drought, flood, pests and disease.

Food production and sufficient supply for the country has, on the whole, been secured in spite of very limited natural resources and the growing population. However, due to insufficient local food production, lack of distribution and food supply systems and low incomes, food security still remains a crucial problem for  many poor households. The shortage of arable land and resources is compounded by obsolete or absent technology and insufficient financial inputs into agriculture and aquaculture.

         Investment in infrastructure in rural areas, especially in water, roads, power and communications, has a crucial role in kindling agricultural growth. If countries get these conditions right, dramatic benefits to agriculture and aquaculture and poor rural households can be expected.


B.Sc. honours in zoology

M.Sc. in zoology, specialized in ichthyology,Ph.D

(working), since 4 years, involved in teaching in Bio-technology, Environmental science and environment & water management in A.N.College, Patna, India.

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