• Monday, Dec 09, 2019
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Aquaculture helped over 2m people escape poverty in a decade

  • Published at 10:44 pm October 27th, 2019
National fisheries week begins July 17
Firshermen fishing at a river in Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Greater investments, larger productivity can raise production to 6986m metric tons by 2030

Aquaculture has enabled over two million Bangladeshis to escape poverty between 2000 and 2010, but the country's fisheries policy is yet to adapt to these changes, a latest study finds.

Of the 18 million Bangladeshis who escaped poverty in 2000-2010, more than two million of them managed to do so because of aquaculture, it said.

Led by aquaculture, the fisheries sector in the country has been remarkably successful in rapidly increasing production, reducing prices, and meeting rising domestic demand, finds the study.

The study, “The Making of Blue Revolution in Bangladesh: Enablers, Impacts and the Path Ahead for Aquaculture,” was released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on Sunday.

The study was jointly edited by Shahidur Rashid and Xiaobo Zhang, an IFPRI senior fellow and distinguished professor of economics at Peking University of China.

The intensification of the sector has been rapid, as fish farmers are using more hatchery produced seed fish, purchasing more floating formulated feed, applying more chemicals, hiring more labour, and investing more quasi-fixed capital, it observed.

File photo of fishermen catching fishes | Dhaka Tribune

The study said increasing aquaculture investment and productivity could lead to an overall increase in production of as much as 120% in 2030. 

Greater aquaculture investments and larger productivity gains could raise production to 6986 million metric tons by 2030, 152% greater than in 2015, and a 69% increase in per capita consumption, it adds.

At the unveiling ceremony of the study, Shahidur Rashid, IFPRI Director for South Asia, said Bangladesh is an excellent case study for the role of fisheries in food security. 

“Contrary to assumptions that nutrient-rich foods will remain out of reach for the poor, the story of fish aquaculture in Bangladesh shows how nutrient rich food can become more widely available for all,” he said.

Calling the high production of fish a blue revolution, the study said creating greater access to fish as a source of nutrition for poor households in the future will require policy reforms and targeted investments.

File photo: Hilsa fish at a wholesale market | Dhaka Tribune

“With the right targeted investments, poor households will benefit from even lower farmed fish prices,” he further said.

Co-author of the study Zhang estimates that aquaculture could achieve a twelve fold increase if intensive fish farming were expanded from its current, limited scope to even half of Bangladesh’s pond areas.

Vietnam is the largest producer of pond fish, Planning Minister M A Mannan said as chief guest at the event, adding that we are seeking a united effort on this in Bangladesh too.

Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy advisor to the prime minister, credited the population of the country for development in aquaculture as he observed that when a new invention comes to light in a densely populated area, it easily spreads across people.