In October 2019, USAID awarded the Fish for Livelihoods (F4L) activity for 2019-2024. The project focuses on improving the nutrition status in Central and Northern Myanmar by promoting an inclusive and sustainable aquaculture growth that focuses on small-scale farmers. This project provides a means of ensuring the improved availability of diverse, safe, affordable nutrient-rich foods, especially for women and young children from poor and vulnerable households. This will be achieved by ensuring that poor households have an increased ability to purchase accessible nutritious foods due to improved incomes from entrepreneurial activities including improved small-scale aquaculture in the intervention areas and the strengthening of aquaculture market systems with particular attention to expanding opportunities for women and youth. n addition, social behavioral change messages will prioritize nutritious-conscious household decisions by means of both home production and purchase in local markets.

Objective

The project will ensure that fish production in areas distant to the Ayeyarwady Delta will provide fish closer to fish deficit areas while promoting market systems and value chains to deliver food safe fish and fish products to local markets. This will be accompanied by activities in the nutrition and WASH areas, to ensure a more integrated approach that comprehends various aspects of small-scale aquaculture. More specifically, the objectives for each of the three dimensions are: 1. Increase small-scale aquaculture production through strategic activities including improved land and water use, increased access to high quality inputs (feed, seed and equipment), capacity development and research into production, and access to credit. 2. Further develop and utilize market-based system approaches (MSA) to increase access to food, safe fish and fish products. 3. Enhanced nutrition and WASH practices delivered via social behavior change communication (SBCC).

Constrains

Burma is the second largest country in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia, in terms of territorial size 676,578 km2 and has a relatively low population of 55 million, hence a national population density of 81/km2. However, most of the population is concentrated along the 2,200 km coastline, Ayeyarwady River to Mandalay and the three main cities: Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw. The mountainous areas surrounding the central lowlands and the area north of Shwebo are relatively unpopulated. The lowlands are divided into a southern Ayeyarwady mega-delta (AD) and a central dry zone (CDZ). Seasonal reversal of monsoon winds, periodic tropical cyclones and storm surges, and neotectonic activity all pose threats to coastal and inland aquaculture. At present aquaculture is poorly diversified with rohu carp accounting for 70% of all freshwater production. Smallholders are usually involved in freshwater production activities and to a limited extent ‘trap and hold’ type aquaculture using ponds, pens and rice-fields in freshwater and brackish water areas. The use of fish cages in reservoirs, both hydro and irrigation or multi-purpose, is currently not allowed but should be promoted along with the multipurpose use of irrigation channels for fish culture. Fish produced from aquaculture meet most, but not all, of the increasing domestic demand for consumption. Large rohu carp and live eel are exported to Bangladesh and China respectively. Freshwater aquaculture is concentrated in the Ayeyarwady, Yangon and Bago Regions. However all States and Regions have varying degrees of aquaculture and in all cases production is increasing due to local demand for fish and the dwindling supply from wild caught capture fisheries: inland and marine. Small ponds, less than 25x50 ft. (7.62x15.24 m) or <116m2 , are exempt from pond registration rules and taxation and do not require licensing as they are deemed to be of a non-commercial size under the MoALI Settlement and Land Record Department regulations. This also applies to ditches placed in rice fields for rice-fish culture. This exemption needs to be correlated with the recommendations made by the Union level Parliamentary Committee for land tenure reform. Consideration also needs to be given to the cumulative water resource and environmental impacts of large numbers of small ponds.

Impact Pathways

The F4L Project aims to intervene in the small-scale rural aquaculture sector by building the capacity of different actors along the value chain through innovative technologies, knowledge and better management practices. This will be supported by activities that strengthen key institutions – public and private and build effective partnerships and linkages among various actors. Support will be provided also to the government and policy makers to influence more favorable and inclusive policies and regulations. Further credit and financial opportunities for small-scale aquaculture farmers will be explored and introduced. All these activities together aim at re-novating the aquaculture sector and creating innovative business models that work. The activities on the production will be accompanied by intervention in the market to facilitate the engagement of smallholder farmers and to integrate best aquaculture practices in the production, processing and trading of fish, and fish products. The interventions in the production and market will be complemented by nutrition and WASH activities. These will be aimed at educating the local actors at institutional, community and individual level for better consumption behaviors. The change at input level to the activities will happen with engagement of qualified human resources, knowledge, technological packages, best practices, structures and tools to build testing and piloting facilities, and strategic partnerships with stakeholders. From activities to output, a foresight analysis and high-quality research on key components on influencing the production of the SSA, such as; natural resources use, feed and seed, production and management practices, value chain, nutrition, institutional capacity, regulatory framework will be carried out to reflect the change. Moreover, the dissemination of technologies and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAPs) by strengthening existing public and private institutions and frameworks, and building effective and robust partnerships and platforms to support extension, integration of gender and capacity development will be carried out at the output. At the higher level for outcomes, the project will influence changes in behavior, policy/regulatory and investment frameworks to support wider adoption and scaling for a more inclusive and sustainable aquaculture sector. In addition to that, sustained private and public sector/government investment growth in aquaculture research and development to support existing and new innovative models, improved policies and increased institutional performance for a greater impact at higher scale.

Internvention Strategies

1. Increase small-scale aquaculture production through strategic activities including improved land and water use, increased access to high quality inputs (feed, seed and equipment), capacity development and research into production, and access to credit. 2. Develop and utilize market-based system approaches (MSA) to increase access to food safe fish and fish products. 3. Deliver enhanced nutrition and WASH practices via social behavior change communication (SBCC) activities and developing capacities into improved production, processing and consumption of food safe aquaculture and other fish-based products.