Aid Requirements for Aquaculture Development
Various projections of future production increases world-wide have been made, ranging from 5 to 10 times by the end of the century. Even based on the lowest estimate, the projected production is expected to be in the neighbourhood of 30 million tons, all or most of which would be used for human consumption. As is obvious, the attainment of the projected production increases will depend on a variety of factors, and the percentage increases will vary between regions and countries.
The increased production is expected to be achieved through: (a) wider application of known technologies, including the expansion of areas under culture, (b) improvement of existing technologies to enable more intensive farming, and to a lesser extent, (c) the development and utilization of new technologies. Based on experience in areas where expansion of aquaculture has occurred in recent years, it is generally considered feasible to achieve the overall production targets, if the necessary financial investment, expertise, inputs and support services are available. The provision of these pre-requisites is therefore of crucial importance and most developing countries require external assistance to fulfil their targets.
2. SOME PROBLEMS OF AQUACULTURE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Before discussing the nature and magnitude of assistance required, it may be useful to consider some of the relevant characteristics of aquaculture. Aquaculture is generally described as a labour-intensive and high-risk bio-industry. A significant feature of aquaculture is that it can be organized as small or large-scale enterprises, adopting the level of intensification desired by the operators. The rates of production obtained would largely depend on the technology, inputs and management skill and can vary between a few hundred kg/ha to a few tons/ha per annum. The construction of farms and installations can be carried out by manual labour and most of the daily operations can also be done manually, providing employment to a significant number of skilled and unskilled personnel. If required, many of these operations can also be mechanized to varying degrees. Despite the need for generating employment, labour is becoming increasingly expensive in many developing countries. The fact that it often takes two to three dry seasons to complete construction, and often a further period will elapse before the farm becomes fully productive makes manual construction often more expensive. The trend, therefore, is moving towards the use of mechanical equipment, together with manual labour as far as possible.
The level of intensification to be adopted will be determined by a variety of factors, including input and labour costs and overall profitability of operations. Most developing countries would be able to undertake aquaculture on a highly profitable basis, using low-level technology and less intensive techniques. It is, however, to be expected that with the overall economic growth of these countries the need would arise for more and more intensive techniques to be adopted for obtaining higher production per unit area, in order to maintain the economic viability of the operations.
Aquaculture in developing countries would normally utilize only limited equipment. However, with increasing mechanization and introduction of intensive production systems, the equipment component of aquaculture projects, and more importantly of auxiliary industries like feed manufacture, is becoming more prominent. Major inputs like feed will, however, normally be produced locally utilizing local ingredients to make the operation economically feasible.
As mentioned earlier, aquaculture can be organized as a large-scale industry or as small-scale rural enterprises. Large-scale production enterprises are more attractive to financial investors. When culture is for exportable products, there are opportunities even for joint ventures with foreign investors. However, in the majority of developing countries the emphasis has been on the development of small-scale farming, as it lends itself very well to integration into a rural economy and can have an important role in overall rural development. The success of such a pattern of development would depend, to a large extent, on the support services provided, such as extension services, production and distribution of inputs and marketing facilities. Normally these services have to be provided by the State and at present they are only rudimentary in most countries.
Despite the attention devoted to aquaculture in meetings and publications, it should be recognized that it remains a rather unfamiliar field for administrators, financiers and funding agencies. Though the subject seems appealing to most people, there is generally a demonstrated reluctance to risk support in the absence of compelling pressures. Probably as a consequence of this, demands are often made as a pre-requisite for aid that aquaculture should fulfil criteria that other, even long-established and well-supported food production enterprises are unable to meet. To add to this, in many countries, it is difficult to determine where aquaculture belongs; either it is claimed or disowned by agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and, of course, the fishing industry. More often it does not really belong legally to any of these sectors. The existing credit schemes, grants, subsidies or other support services do not apply to aquaculture and therefore aquaculturists do not know where to turn for assistance.
On the technological side, there are a number of proven systems that can be applied to large-scale production, but they need considerable adaptation for this purpose and have to be improved for maximizing production and profitability. Though a practice of considerably long history, aquaculture as a science is very new and has not so far benefited from the multidisciplinary systems-oriented research it very badly needs. An increasing number of scientific workers are involved in research on one or other aspect of aquaculture, but there is a serious scarcity of experienced practical aquaculturists who could carry out production management or extension work.
3. AID REQUIREMENTS
Different estimates of investments required to achieve the projected increases in aquaculture production have been made. If it is taken as around US$ 7 000 million, a 10 to 15 times increase in investments may be required in the next decade. There is no doubt that there is considerable interest, particularly in the private sector for investment in aquaculture, although this is largely restricted to exportable products, insofar as developing countries are concerned. A major bottleneck appears to be the lack of expertise in identifying sound investment opportunities and formulation of viable projects. In areas where appropriate basic data on technical and economic viability are lacking, there is an urgent need for pilot operations to generate such data, and enhanced aid is needed for this purpose.
For various reasons, the bulk of external aid has so far been channelled through governments and used for public sector activities. There is now mounting interest in the private sector and it is becoming apparent that for rapid development in the sector, arrangements for direct aid or joint ventures are essential.
There is also a growing need for non-governmental and non commercial organizations to undertake support activities, including objective policy analyses, developmental studies and promotional activities, necessary for rapid development of aquaculture.
In almost every discussion on development of aquaculture, both in the industrially-advanced countries as well as in developing countries, the scarcity of well-trained practising aquaculturists has been emphasized as a major constraint. Although there is, as mentioned earlier, an increasing number of scientists working on one or the other aspect of aquaculture science, the number of aquaculturists who have the training and experience to plan and manage aquaculture enterprises is small indeed.
Different categories of personnel may be needed for aquaculture development, but the core personnel required can be identified as general aquaculturists, field technicians and extension workers, the distinction between them being in the basic educational background and the orientation of training. The aquaculturist who has a fairly high educational background needs an all-round multidisciplinary, theoretical and practical training to enable him to apply known technology, and when problems arise in the field, as they do, innovate appropriate solutions. The technician, who is the equivalent of a foreman in a factory, needs training which may be restricted to selected aquaculture systems, with greater stress on practical work. An extension worker is basically a good technician with the personal qualities required to work with farmers and with specialized training in extension techniques.
The number of senior aquaculturists required is relatively small. In view of the physical facilities and multidisciplinary expertise needed for appropriate training of such personnel, it would be more economical and efficient to organize training of higher-level aquaculturists on a regional basis under conditions generally similar to those in their home countries. Technicians and extension workers will have to be trained in their own countries or, when necessary, on a sub-regional basis, in their local language, with adequate emphasis on the culture systems and techniques that are likely to be utilized in their future work.
Scientific personnel for basic and applied research, as well as specialist services such as diagnosis and treatment of diseases, can be drawn from universities and other centres of higher learning. Although they may not have an all-round aquaculture education, it should be possible to organize on the job training of selected personnel in research methods under the guidance of experienced scientists, supplemented by special courses, where necessary.
Training of senior aquaculturists will have, at least initially, to be organized in conjunction with regional research, in order to share available facilities and expertise. This may not be the best arrangement on a long-term basis, as combination of responsibilities of research and training of the type required in aquaculture may eventually prove impractical. However, under the present circumstances, as an interim measure, this procedure may have to be followed.
The farmers or field operatives are generally self-taught individuals who "learn by doing", with the help of extension personnel when possible. It is estimated that by the year 1985 about 1.7 million additional farmers will be involved in aquaculture. They could greatly benefit from short-term courses in specific techniques, especially when improvements or innovations have to be introduced.
National centres will have to organize training of technicians arid extension workers, based on the nature of the production activities they will be involved in. The development of adequate facilities for the type of training required and the personnel for training are of special importance in this regard.
External aid is required to establish or strengthen existing national centres as appropriate and for the establishment of regional centres with the necessary equipment and personnel to meet the training requirements
Due to a variety of reasons there has been an upsurge of interest in aquaculture research, and many existing institutions have on-going research related to aquaculture problems. While most of such research could eventually be of value, effective aquaculture research has to be oriented toward developing feasible husbandry practices.
The projected increases in aquaculture production in the developing world are expected to be obtained by the application of known technologies and so adaptive research, to enable transfer of technologies or the improvement of the techniques involved will have the highest priority. Such research must be of a multidisciplinary nature and systems-oriented, as problems are very closely inter-related. As pointed out by the TAC Subcommittee on Aquaculture (TAC, 1974) aquaculture has strong feed-back components, as, for example, improvement in seed supply requires new food or feed production techniques. Seed and feed production may involve study of nutrition and physiology; management of seed production and rearing would need knowledge of environmental requirements-disease control, etc. The production system as a whole therefore, has to be considered and the gaps in our knowledge of the systems have to be filled and problems in their application solved through team effort.
The nature of facilities and expertise required for undertaking the multidisciplinary research render it extremely difficult, at least for the present, to organize it on a national basis. However, centralizing such research in one international centre would be counter-productive (as pointed out by TAC (1974)) because of the differences in species cultured and the need to study the various aspects in the set of environmental conditions in which the particular species occurs and those in which it has to be reared. However, geographic regions which have, or plan to adopt, the same culture systems and have very similar climatic and socio-economic conditions, can be identified. Problems facing the application of selected systems in those regions can be investigated more economically and efficiently in a regional institution. The results of such work will have to be tested in national centres and any major problems encountered referred back to the regional institution for further studies and solutions. The national centres will need to be strengthened for this purpose and for undertaking research on problems of a purely local nature. Close linkages will have to be established between the regional and national centres so as to form effective networks of research centres, which, as pointed out earlier, could also organize the training of core personnel for aquaculture development.
ADCP has established regional Centres in Asia, Africa and Latin America for multidisciplinary research and regional training. A new Centre for the Caribbean is under consideration and the Fish Culture Research Institute in Hungary is planned to be developed into an inter-regional Centre for long-term applied research. Further aid is required to develop activities in these Centres fully, and to establish linkages for a truly interregional network. As the research is to be carried out by interdisciplinary teams it should be possible to utilize the services of specialists in relevant disciplines rather than aquaculture scientists per se, if the overall guidance of such personnel can be assured. Also aquaculture research calls for contributions from allied sciences such as animal genetics, irrigation and agricultural engineering, soil sciences, animal nutrition and feed technology, etc. Thus, technical assistance from countries even not too advanced in aquaculture research could very well be utilized for regional research activities in developing regions.
As indicated earlier, a free flow of information is of primary importance in the development of aquaculture, particularly since the major increases in production in the near future are to be achieved through transfer of technology. Information flow is obviously needed for research, training and extension, which form the major supporting services to be established. Although the types of information required for each of these activities differ rather considerably, a unified comprehensive information gathering, processing and dissemination system would be necessary to meet the needs of aquaculture development.
ADCP has designed an information system, AQUIS, mainly for the collection, computerized storage and dissemination of data for planning and development purposes. The system will be implemented through regional networks of aquaculture Centres. It is now being introduced in four of the Centres in Asia. The close cooperation of relevant agencies, both in developing, as well as developed countries, is necessary to make the system work. As compatible hardware required for participation in the system is expensive, many of the input centres will need external assistance for its procurement, maintenance and data exchange between Centres.