Alleviating poverty through aquaculture: progress, opportunities and improvements

Significant changes in our understanding of the interrelationships between aquaculture and poverty have occurred in the last decade. In particular, there is a growing realization that the impacts of aquaculture need to be assessed from a value-chain perspective rather than through a narrow production focus. In recent years, understandings of poverty and the forms, outcomes and importance of aquaculture have also shifted. Terms in current use are first clarified, including those related to scale and location of aquaculture. The evolution of aquaculture from traditional to modern forms and its role as a central feature or more secondary part of household livelihoods are considered. Definitions of poverty and resilience and the potential roles of aquaculture in supporting poorer people are discussed in the light of recent research. The role and impacts of targeted interventions to support poverty alleviation are discussed and the potential negative impacts of aquaculture on poor peoples’ livelihoods are presented. The concept of “well-being” is presented to support interpretation of the potential impacts of aquaculture on food and nutritional security. Strategies to ensure self sufficiency of aquatic foods at the household, community, national and international scale are considered. Access and food security issues affecting aquaculture and capture fisheries and the nature of farming are critiqued in the light of a broader literature. The role of ponds in meeting broader nutritional security needs and within rural livelihoods is discussed and the importance of incorporation into both local and more extended value chains examined. Since its take off as a major food-producing activity in the last few decades, aquaculture in many places remains a family business. Private governance through certification has emerged as a potential game changer in aquaculture, bringing with it the potential for exclusion of poorer producers from global value chains and associated implications for poverty alleviation. A distinction between the dynamic changes accompanying quasi-commercial and commercial aquaculture development, often in transforming economies, is contrasted with the incremental benefits associated with “quasi-peasant” aquaculture previously most associated with poverty alleviation through interventions supported by national and international organizations. A rethink regarding how poverty is most effectively reduced or its alleviation supported through aquaculture by supporting actors within value chains rather than with a sole-producer focus is advanced. An agenda allied to that proposed in the World Development Report 2008 (World Bank, 2007) for agriculture generally is proposed. This assesses the importance of aquaculture development as part of the measures to mitigate water scarcity and to support sustainable intensification of food production generally, while acknowledging the need to strengthen rural-urban linkages and continue the development of appropriate safety nets for the poorest groups.


Citation:

Little, D.C., Barman, B.K., Belton, B., Beveridge, M.C., Bush, S.J., Dabaddle, L., Demaine, H., Edwards, P., Haque, M.M., Kibria, G., Morales, E., Murray, F.J., Leschen, W.A., Nandeesha, M.C., Sukadi, F. (2012)
p. 719-783. In: Subasinghe, R.R.; Arthur, J.R.; Bartley, D.M.; De Silva, S.S.; Halwart, M.; Hishamunda, N.; Mohan, C.V.; Sorgeloos, P. (eds.) Farming the waters for people and food. Proceedings of the Globlal Conference on Aquaculture 2010. Phuket, Thailand. 22-25 September 2010. FAO, Rome and NACA, Bangkok
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