In the Lau and Langalanga lagoons in Malaita province, Solomon Islands, the ‘saltwater people’ live on small artificial islands on top of coral reefs and mangroves, barter marine resources for root crops and vegetables, and have limited access to land. But the reef fisheries they depend on are threatened by overexploitation, climate change and changing consumption patterns. This project aims to safeguard the food security of these vulnerable communities. The project will enable coastal communities to manage the natural resources on which they depend, and build the capacity of the provincial government to effectively support these grassroots initiatives.
Fish play critical roles in the economic development and food security of coastal people. Yet sustained production of fish for nutrition and income is exposed to many stressors and shocks, notably globalization of trade, poor governance and planning in contested coastal zones, and extreme weather events. This research project therefore brings together three contrasting case studies that show the importance of fish in national and regional food systems: as a source or food in the aftermath of natural disasters, as a source of better nutrition, and as a source of income for coastal communities through pro-poor development of mariculture.
In Bangladesh, both women and men are actively involved in aquaculture. But in poor households, where average income is USD 65.25 per month, women face barriers that prevent them from catching fish, even from their own homestead ponds.
Gender-related cultural and religious expectations prohibit women from harvesting fish, a job often seen as a man’s responsibility. Women are also reluctant to enter ponds to harvest fish because they have to get their sarees wet, which then need to be washed and hung out to dry for a day.
The marine fisheries surrounding the half-island of Timor-Leste account for over 90% of the country’s total fish production. But capture fisheries alone will not be sufficient to meet the country’s growing fish demand.
In response, the Government of Timor-Leste is looking inland to boost fish supply, by encouraging rural families to farm fish for home consumption and commercial scale.
From 2010 to 2015, the USAID-funded Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) worked in six hubs in Bangladesh to fight food security by improving agricultural and aquaculture productivity and promoting technology innovation. This outcome video highlights the project’s successes, including higher aquaculture yields, improved farmer access to better quality seed, and greater household consumption of fish and vegetables.
A quiet revolution is happening in the ponds of shrimp farmers in Bangladesh. Since 2012, commercial shrimp farmers have increased production by 21 percent to 280 kg per hectare, the result of following better management practices (BMP) and using virus-free shrimp seed. This is part of the USAID-funded Aquaculture and Income for Nutrition project, which has trained over 50,000 commercial farmers in BMP since 2012.
Nutrient-rich small fish such as the Mekong flying barb, yellow tail rasbora, and slender rasbora are abundant in the flooded rice fields, rivers and streams that cover the Cambodian countryside.
But a common perception among households, 80% of whom engage in fishing, is that these wild-caught fish are most useful for feeding to pigs, ducks and chickens.
“My household would catch small fish from rice fields, canals, streams, lakes, and ponds, but we’d rarely eat them,” explains Chum Dany from Aren village, Pursat province.
Through this partnership with the Government of Odisha in India, WorldFish provides support to increase the productivity of aquaculture through improvements in seed, technology and farming systems. A long-term goal is to foster a sustainable aquaculture sector in which the private sector will be more willing to invest. The partnership will also focus on improving the value chain for aquaculture products to improve nutrition security in Odisha state, where over 25% of children under five in rural areas are malnourished. Further, the partnership aims to improve the planning and management of natural resources for sustainable aquaculture and fisheries.
Fish is a diet staple in Solomon Islands, a country of 992 islands surrounded by productive coastal fisheries. But for inland communities, where fresh fish are expensive to buy and supply is irregular, fish consumption is often low.
“In the past, normally my family did not eat fish for around half of the year… sometimes we just lived without thinking about eating fish,” explains Moses Liukalia from Taflankwasa, Malaita Province, who farms fish for home consumption.