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Starting in the late 1980s, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) began to convene workshops for the purpose of documenting exemplary practices in sustainable agriculture. The resulting publication usually was a user-friendly and highly illustrated source book of ideas targeted to development workers and trainers.

Resource persons are invited to such workshops (also known as «writeshops») to present their ideas and experiences in the form of short papers, which are then subjected to critical review by fellow participants. Communication specialists and design/desktop publishing staff assist in print presentation. The revised materials are reviewed again until all changes are acceptable. Only then are these generated materials considered suitable and relevant for immediate dissemination and use.

What is unique about this process is that these materials are generated and developed by bringing scientists, development workers and communication specialists to a workshop specifically for such purpose.

IIRR and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) valued the idea of developing a publication on integrated agriculture-aquaculture to help improve the quality of life of farmers on smallholdings in Asia. The two institutions, supported by the Netherlands Organization for International Development and Cooperation (NOVIB) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Canada Fund, organized and conducted a workshop at IIRR in Cavite, Philippines, in February 1992. This resulted in the publication of the «Farmer-proven integrated agriculture-aquaculture: a technology information kit» which was deliberately made copyright-free to allow for reprinting and wider distribution, provided the source was cited.

The 2000 printed copies were distributed to extensionists, farmers, university students, scientists and decisionmakers in governmental, nongovernmental and local organizations, and bilateral aid donors. Feedback from users revealed that the kit was used in training courses and communications such as posters and lectures. It was highly sought after, so that more sets had to be photocopied, and reprinting became an issue.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has a long history of collaborating with IIRR and ICLARM, considered reprinting the kit an important activity to complement current efforts of its Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service to build awareness among policymakers that aquaculture has an important role to play in poor peoples' livelihoods1  and to document successful cases of small-scale aquaculture in different environments2 . In the context of the Organization's efforts to help member countries achieve food security and alleviate poverty, the kit was considered to be very valuable and useful, and a powerful communication tool with potential for wider application in many countries, particularly through FAO's Partnership Programmes and the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS). FAO therefore teamed up with IIRR and ICLARM in a joint effort to edit and revise the original publication and publish it as a primer on IAA in the FAO Fisheries Technical Paper series.

This primer aims to give decisionmakers in governmental and non-governmental organizations and in other organizations concerned with agriculture and rural development an overview and a basis for understanding the principles of IAA, and to help them decide whether to embark on IAA activities and include these in their program portfolio. The target beneficiary group of this publication are the small-scale farmers who already have a small aquaculture activity (e.g. a small pond or a rice-fish system) and could benefit from improved systems as shown in this publication, and the farmers without any form of aquaculture on their farms but with access to appropriate sites and resources to establish an aquaculture component as a means of diversification. For the latter, a simple and low-cost starting point is the use of existing, otherwise unutilized on-farm, or easily accessible off-farm, resources such as wastes as a means to fertilize their ponds. This integration can take on a multitude of forms, many of which are described in the presentations in this book. The possible forms of farm integration are limited mainly by the resources available to the farmers, and their creativity.

The IAA operations usually take up a minor area on the farm, compared to major activities such as staple food crops, cash crops and orchards. Yet these operations can be very important and highly productive components, when efficiency is regarded on a value-per-area basis. Environmental and agroecosystem characteristics should be supportive of all components of the integrated system for this to function optimally and most beneficially for the farmer.

The previous approach of introducing stand-alone fish culture enterprises was often not successful for novices and has led to countless failures in small-scale aquaculture development. Instead, IAA has proven to be a viable entry point into fish farming, which the farmer can later improve with increased expertise and specialization. It is not the aim of this publication to convince traditional, small-scale farmers to abandon their ongoing farming activities and abruptly become fish farmers as an exclusive occupation. IAA relies on linkages and synergies among different on-farm and off-farm enterprises. It aims to encourage farmers towards diversification and intensification, but without negative effects of overuse of external inputs and monocultures.

The descriptions in the presentations on the calendars and schedules of activities refer to the specific location and time (i.e. early 1990s) in which the case descriptions were written, often with a reference to the countries where the method was developed or is being applied. Situations and agroecological context will differ and vary in other locations with different seasons. The reader should be encouraged to examine carefully the local context of the area in which the application of IAA is intended. The IAA systems described are from a range of applications - experimental, researcher-managed on-farm trials, with downscaled quantities and dimensions from commercial systems, descriptions of large-scale systems with some applications in small-scale systems, all the way to farmer-developed and widely implemented systems.

This publication is not a compilation of procedures that should be strictly followed. Rather, this primer should help convince its readers/users that farmers can discover and develop opportunities for IAA activities on their existing farms within their communities. Readers are encouraged to note that it is the idea and principle of IAA, and not the individual examples and details of the descriptions, which should be absorbed and later applied. Farmers should use the given proportions of component size, types and amounts of material flows, fish and plant stocking densities only as guide on which to base their own trials.

Original contributions were edited and revised. Importantly, boxes were provided at the end of most presentations with a summary of reviewers' and editors' comments, which are intended to give updated views on the topics and further background information for application.

The bibliography and the designations and affiliations of participants were as in the original publication.

In terms of appearance, readers should bear in mind that the present publication has used modern DTP tools but relied on eight year-old hand-drawn and written pictures (although a number of them were redrawn for this reprint), legends and captions, originating from the 1992 version which was as a loose-leaf collection of information sheets meant to be copied as handouts. Figures and tables were updated to meet the general objectives of this reprint, albeit with the aim for cost effectiveness, and adapted to the FAO editorial style for their Fisheries Technical Paper series.

Mentions of pesticide brands and types which may be outdated or not appropriate for a specific use are made because they were in use at the particular time and place. Their mention does not in any way represent an endorsement by FAO, IIRR or ICLARM.

It is intended that this primer will be downloadable from the FAO website (http:/

Rome, December 2000

Matthias Halwart
Fishery Resources Officer (Aquaculture)
Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service

Julian Gonsalves
Vice President - Programs

Mark Prein
Senior Scientist/Leader
Freshwater Resources Research Program

1 FAO. 2000. Small ponds make a big difference. FAO, Rome, Italy, 30 p.
2 IIRR, IDRC, FAO, NACA and ICLARM (in press). Utilizing Different Aquatic Resources for Livelihoods in Asia: A Resource Book. Proceedings of a Workshop, 18-28 September 2000. International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Silang, Cavite, Philippines. 407 p.

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