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Aquatic Agricultural Systems

More than 700 million people depend on aquatic agricultural systems for their livelihoods. These are diverse farming systems that include a mix of cultivation, livestock, aquaculture, fishing, and gathering natural resources such as fruits, seeds, timber and wildlife. However, there are many constraints that prevent low income smallholders from fully benefitting from these naturally productive systems. The CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems starts from the premise that poverty is rarely caused solely by inadequate income or assets. Other reasons can include marginalization, when a group of people is disadvantaged or excluded due to their ethnicity, race, religion, caste, gender, age, HIV status or other attribute. Often this group is also more vulnerable to economic shocks, environmental changes, and natural disasters.
 
The Program, led by WorldFish, recognizes the multiple dimensions of poverty, and the diversified livelihood strategies used by farming families. Research is embedded within communities using a farmer-participatory approach, with both beneficiary households and development partners working hand-in-hand.
 
Our research agenda
Geography very often determines the livelihood opportunities and the role of fisheries and aquaculture within aquatic agricultural systems. For aquatic agricultural systems located close to urban centers or transport corridors, these opportunities are increasingly market-oriented. For those aquatic agricultural systems located in remote and inaccessible rural areas however, market opportunities are severely constrained. Meeting the livelihood and food security needs of these remote rural populations requires multi-pronged approaches with changes to technologies, markets and social institutions.
 
Recognizing the complexity of these livelihoods, WorldFish will work with CGIAR centers and other partners to pursue an integrated program of research that focuses on six broad themes:
  1. Sustainable increases in system productivity. We will focus on increasing productivity by using better inputs and through the adoption of new production and post-harvesting technologies. For example in Uganda improved strains of fish will be developed and disseminated for use in pond aquaculture, while in Bangladesh integrated systems of prawn-shrimp-fish-rice cultivation will be refined and their use extended. Gender mainstreaming will focus on reducing the productivity gap between men and women by engaging both groups in priority setting, research, field trails, dissemination and monitoring.