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The day is gone when we could look at small scale fisheries projects in isolation from other aspects of rural development. The fishing village is an integral unit. Whether we work on fish catching, boat building, fish processing, village crafts, agriculture, community water supplies, health clinics, schools, housing or transport, we must surely recognize that the village stands or falls as a complete entity. The factors that have contributed to the stagnation and disintegration of rural life in recent years are common problems faced by all small communities in the tropics, regardless of their main source of livelihood.

7.1 Benefits of an Integrated Approach

The importance of looking at villages or communities as a whole became even greater when we begin to install appropriate technology and alternative energy systems. These systems are based on wise use of all resources including waste material. In this case “one man's poison is another man's meat!” Waste from fish processing activities can feed chickens and farm animals; human and animal wastes can produce biogas and fertilizer; rice husks and coconut fiber can make useful insulation material; timber offcuts and coconut shells can be used for firewood or made into charcoal.

Living costs can be made lower per capita by sharing different systems. For instance, an SWS water filtration system installed for an ice plant may also provide the village with clean potable water. A wind or water-powered generator for a cold store may also provide street lighting for the community. A local school may receive fish in return for waste provided by students to produce biogas or fertilizer. A fish transport vessel operated by a local coop might carry back rice, fuel, cement or consumer goods as a service to the community. The benefits of imaginative cooperation are endless. (See Figure 30).

If we are to adopt a community wide approach, our development strategy will need to be organized on somewhat different lines. There must be a mobilization of relevant knowledge. The functions of field worker communication, systematic compilation, analysis and distribution of technical information, feedback, and the creation of regional and local sub-structures or action groups all require study and implementation1.

1 Schumacher, E.F. Two Million Villages, in Britain and the World in the Seventies. London, Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1970. (Republished in Small is Beautiful, Harper and Row, 1973).

Figure 30

Flow of Money

Figure 30

One of the major problems facing rural villages is the way money tends to flow out to the city to purchase consumer goods. So the village blacksmith, tinsmith, carpenter, shoemaker, tailor, rope spinner and charcoal burner are being by-passed as their neighbours purchase ready-made items produced in factories hundreds or thousands of miles away. This trend must be reversed if the village is to survive and prosper. Local employment must be encouraged and generated. Many complementary activities need to be started simultaneously so that for each one of 20 new small scale producers, the remaining 19 are his local market1.

1 Schumacher, E.F. The Problems of Unemployment in India. Paper presented to the India Development Group, London, 1971. (Republished in Small is Beautiful, Harper and Row, 1973).

7.2 Model Communities

While million of dollars of aid money are being spent on fisheries in the tropics and sub-tropics, there has been no concerted effort as yet to undertake a model fishing village programme. The model communities of Tanzania were chiefly agricultural villages. Some progress is being made, however, and a number of proposals are under way or under study, to tackle the problem of the entire fishing village. There are several such projects in the Philippines where most rural villages are located on the coast. The Indonesian transmigration schemes could have benefited by focusing initial attention on fisheries rather than agriculture, to produce both food and a cash crop.

Figure 31

Figure 31

An integrated aquaculture-agriculture system used in Singapore.
D.Mendola, adopted from Bardach et al.

Unfortunately when we look around for an example of a model community based on appropriate technology and the use of renewable energy resources there are very few examples as comprehensive as we would like. Only in the temperate countries can we find such. Most of the work to date in the tropics has been fragmented and rather specialized. Here is a challenge and an opportunity for an enterprising and motivated group or organization in the Indo-Pacific region.

The New Alchemists of Woods Hole, Massachussetts have pioneered new energy and production systems for small communities based on field work in places as far apart as Java and Costa Rica. They have concentrated effort on fish culture rather than fisheries in general but much of their work is applicable to any fishing village.

In 1976 the New Alchemists inaugurated their “Ark” at Souris in Prince Edward Island. This was a complete bioshelter -- a solar-heated, wind-powered, food growing complex incorporating 40 solar fish ponds. While it was designed specifically for Canadian conditions, the basic principles could be easily modified to suit the tropical village. Speaking at the opening of the Ark, the then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said that mankind was haunted by three questions about the future: Will there be enough food? Will there be enough energy? And can we produce both without destroying the environment? …1 For the peoples of the Indo-Pacific region we might add a fourth question: Will there be enough employment, and will it be of a satisfying and remunerative nature? It is in an attempt to answer those questions, and to provide food, energy and employment without destroying the natural environment that we must develop new integrated village systems. (See Figure 32).

7.3 Agriculture in Coastal Villages

Small scale agriculture is an essential part of the life and economy of most fishing villages. Many fisherman and fish farmers spend part of their time cultivating vegetable gardens, fruit trees, rice fields, cattle, sheep or poultry. The farming activities of the fisherman should not be overlooked.

Farming, forestry and water management are to the survival of coastal villages. Regardless how productive their fisheries may be, communities will face grave difficulties if deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution are allowed to continue and to increase. In a penetrating and thought provoking article on this subject, an FFHC officer writes “Long years of over-exploitation, arising out of a rapid increase in population, social inequalities, inequalities in income distribution and in the distribution of land, have resulted in over-grazing, erosion, denuded forests, and surface water pollution.” One of the most crucial problems the writer mentions is irreversibility -- “the possibility of lack of possibility, of returning an ecological system to its former harmony”2.

1 Baldwin, J. in Soft Technology. Penguin Books, 1978.

2 de Marco, Diana. Effects of Poverty and Economic Development in the Asian Region. Ideas and Action 127 1979-1 Freedom from Hunger Campaign/Action for Development.

Figure 32

Figure 32

The Ark; A proposed advanced model of the mini-ark. From journal no. 2 of the
New Alchemy Institute

Figure 33


Figure 33

Trees are vital parts of our ecosystem, providing us with shade, food, building materials and fuel. They also perform an invaluable service in preventing soil erosion. A tree-planting and cultivation programme is a wise and necessary investment for any fishing community. This might include coconut palms, bamboo, papaya or teakwood, all of which are extremely useful and valuable. Great strides have been made in the Philippines, reforesting with the ipil-ipil tree (Leucaena Leucephala) introduced ten years ago from Hawaii. This tree can grow to over 12 meters in 3 years. It produces building timber, fuel, fertilizer, animal feed and edible food, and will grow on relatively infertile soils. The tree may also be used in the future to produce biogas and wood alcohol1.

1 Chanco, M.P. The Amazing Ipil-Ipil Tree. In Appropriate Technology, Vol. 6, No. 2, August 1979, London.

Figure 34

Figure 34

Hydroponic vegetable growing using seawater as fertilizer.
After Murray and Valentine 1976.

Vegetable production is normally difficult in coastal villages in the tropics due to the temperature, sea sand, and brackish nature of the soil. Recent projects by U.S. oil companies in Arabia indicate that it is indeed possible to grow quality vegetables in such a situation, inside special greenhouses, and growing the plants hydroponically. Plants grown by hydroponics need no soil. The roots go into water through sand, stones or marble chips. But to do this one must add a fertilizers to the water. One of the most remarkable and successful fertilizers used, which contains all the trace elements plants need in the required proportions, is plain sea water. It may be added in quantities of around 3 per cent to the hydroponic feed water1. Seaweed fertilizer once held great promise for coastal agriculture but it would appear that this is a rather roundabout way of obtaining what is already in the sea water. And seaweed itself might be better used as food for humans or animals, and for agar-agar production2. (See Figure 34).

7.4 Reducing Costs

The cooperative marketing of produce and purchase of commodities holds great economic promise for rural villagers. This might be essential component of an integrated village system whether the cooperation is in the form of profit-sharing enterprise, common ownership venture or community controlled facility. Coops forced on people from without or from above rarely ever work. If we are to promote cooperative development we must involve the community in the decision-making process and give them control over their own future. Coop managers accountable to their own fellow villagers are much more likely to act responsibly than bureaucrats answerable to a government office hundreds of miles away. Until the people of any village are confident their interests will not be betrayed, they will not give cooperative organizations their wholehearted support.

Construction costs and cooling costs for buildings in rural areas could be reduced by designing the buildings to suit the environment and by using local building materials wherever possible. While the rural people themselves do this naturally, government and international projects appear to have a fixation with western city style buildings. Much useful work has recently been done to produce low cost bricks and roofing material and to make reinforced concrete structures using bamboo instead of steel.

Each fishing village has its own peculiar problems, its own resources and its own potential. No one integrated system will be applicable to all villages. In energy production some will have plenty wind or water power, and some will have considerable biofuel potential. Others may have little alternative to solar power. Most situations will call for wise use of several sources. To ensure the future growth and prosperity of the villages, investments made primarily for one activity should be permitted to benefit others to stimulate employment and generate small scale industry. (See Figure 35).

1 Murray, M. and Valentine T. Sea Energy Agriculture. USA, Valentine and Hendren, Dr. 5128 and Winston-Salem, N.C. 27103, 1976.

2 Stephenson, W.A. Seaweed in Agriculture and Horticulture. Faber, London, 1968. Chapman, V.J. Seaweeds and Their Uses. Methuen, London, 1950. Edwards, P. An Assessment of Seaweed Farming in Thailand. Bangkok, IDRC, October 1978.


Figure 35

ref. Weygers,A. The Modern Blacksmith 1974 Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.

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