2.1 The Consumers as Beneficiaries
2.2 The Producers as Beneficiaries
2.3 The Communities as Beneficiaries
The benefits of international assistance of aquaculture development accrue directly to two prime groups of individuals. These are:
(1) CONSUMERS, who gain directly from the increased availability of (more) aquatic products for food, and to a small extent from increased opportunities for employment;
(2) PRODUCERS or FARMERS, who benefit in terms of increased or maximized incomes, and to a small extent by auto-consumption of products and family employment.
Benefits are also obtained directly and indirectly by:
(3) COMMUNITIES AS A WHOLE, including governments, which fulfill commitments in plans and policies, and institutions which participate to achieve goals and objectives.
For the most part, the prime target groups, the consumers and producers, have not been participants in the planning or the execution of international assistance projects in aquaculture. The success or failure of assistance is influenced more by the strength of the commitments within the sector, and the organization and management abilities of the government and institutions concerned which should provide the links to the producers and consumers.
Intended beneficiaries of international assistance for aquaculture development within the public sector are the consumers, particularly among the rural poor. Fresh aquaculture products, especially the native freshwater and brackishwater fishes, continue to be a prime source of fresh animal protein for this main target group as they are farmed and marketed (sold or bartered) within the village communities. The quantifiable evidence of this traditional market is difficult to confirm, specifically because rural village markets are not organized and structured and no records are maintained of their volumes or values; also because there is considerable barter between farmers as well as auto-consumption and theft. It is difficult to differentiate between farm produced and wild-caught fish. The main evidence of the nutritional benefits of aquaculture in rural areas is that fish farming is widely practised and that there is production. Quantifying the nutritional benefits of aquaculture production among the rural poor remains a priority for assistance organizations to determine.
So far, true marine farming of high-value fish and crustaceans contributes little or nothing to the nutrition of the rural poor, with the exception of the organized collection and consumption of molluscs from natural stocks.
Larger volumes of animal protein, including fish and shellfish (molluscs), are consumed by the urban poor, but there is no consumer or market distinction between captured or cultured aquatic products. Urban markets are supplied more by products from capture fisheries because of the larger volumes required and the cheap prices demanded by the limited spending power of the people. The products are usually frozen and from marine or imported resources. Markets of the urban poor have limited potential for fresh cultured fish and are poor targets for assistance projects in aquaculture because of their inability to absorb the quantities and regularity of delivered products at prices demanded by production costs. On the other hand, markets of the wealthier urban groups and centres of population have greater ability to absorb and pay for fresh high-value cultured products, including marine fish, crustaceans, and molluscs, in addition to poultry, pigs and vegetables which are often grown in systems integrated with aquaculture production. The international markets can only accommodate high-value or specialist products, and these are limited in potential because of exporting costs and the demands on quality control and hygiene standards.
The recognition that aquaculture produce, even among the communities of the rural poor, has to be marketed in some way has been largely neglected in UNDP/FAO technical assistance projects to date. This is unfortunate, since the viability and scale of projects and selected systems cannot be realistically assessed unless use is made of information relating to market demand and price limitations. The marketability of certain aquaculture products and consumer resistance are realities of all markets and may constrain the development and growth of the industry. It is therefore in the interest of projects to carry out in-depth marketing investigations at any level, and also to investigate the value of alternate product forms, for example, refining the derivates of seaweed before exporting the raw product. This is an appropriate area for UNDP/FAO technical assistance, preferably during or prior to the implementation of pilot-scale projects, as well as assisting projects with post-harvest and processing procedures; for example, products which need to be treated if cultured in contaminated or polluted waters, such as the depuration of shellfish or extending the 'shelf life' of certain products to enter more distant markets, both domestic and export.
The public does not derive much benefit from aquaculture as an industry for employment. Extensive farming practices are predominantly owner-operated, usually one man and his immediate family. Furthermore, not every man in a village community has the desire to farm fish in addition to his other agricultural pursuits. Semi-intensive farming systems have potential for employment, but the evidence is that such owner/non-operators prefer to co-opt their immediate family members so that the farms, particularly farms integrated with animal and plant husbandry, receive continuous attention. The intensive farming systems, with the possible exception of individual owner/operators of cages and net pen enclosures, have the greatest potential for employment. However, as intensive farms are profit-oriented, labour costs are kept minimal and many farms prefer again to employ families or to use incentive schemes based on production, or provide alternative compensation such as housing and food. There is little information on labour utilization by the many aquaculture systems from region to region, and this is a priority for assistance organizations to determine. Similarly, the employment of women in the sector requires identification.
The sub-sector of the aquaculture industry which provides the greatest opportunity for employment is the handling and processing of the products which, as in the capture fisheries industry, can and is using women. For the most part, the opportunities for such labour are with semi-intensive systems producing high-priced or specialist products.
The main targets of international assistance in aquaculture continue to be the producers, particularly the existing or potential 'small farmers' in the rural poor areas of the world. The purpose is to increase the incomes (in cash or In kind) of such individuals. This is not often clearly stated in UNDP/FAO projects and the assumption appears to be chat the industry of farming itself is the benefit rather than the income it must generate, or the products for barter, or for feeding the farmer and his family.
Increasing a farmer's real income through extensive aquaculture practices is difficult to achieve. The evidence is that among these poor communities, and even among those where fishing is traditional, only certain individuals accept the financial burdens of constructing and operating a fish pond in addition to their other pursuits for survival. The reasons are several. Managing a fish pond usefully demands the daily attention and commitment which are often not part of the social behaviour and cultural backgrounds of the people; and inputs can be costly. Poor management practices result, such as over-harvesting, and thefts reduce production and profit for the farmer and his family. Furthermore, the social structure may limit the extent to which increased productivity of the farmer can result in personal gains.
At the other end of the scale for maximizing income, certain intensive and semi-intensive systems with high-value species are assumed to be so financially rewarding that they will produce export earnings or reduce costly imports.
Such projects have been supported by international assistance, and the target producers in these cases have been the governments themselves, or government-selected entrepreneurs. The evidence is that governments and government-nominees for the appropriate development loan, which are part of assistance projects to prepare sites and to purchase costly inputs, prove to be poor producers. Few benefits, if any, in terms of export earnings or food accrue to the country. For the most part, governments are owner/non-operators with little commitment to the continuous management and operational needs of the projects, and do not perform within the right business environment which compels them to maximize or increase income.
Not all governments make poor producers or production managers. The exceptions have been countries with a centrally planned economy, such as Hungary, Cuba and Yugoslavia, which have been able to establish an aquaculture sector and increase marketable production annually through directed research and development, and cooperatives and independent government organizations. However, most of these organizations use bonuses and 'profit-sharing' schemes to provide incentives for motivation, and compensate for the lack of increased financial incomes.
Between governments and the rural poor as producers are the semi-intensive farm operators who are exemplified by the systems which they pursue - namely, the maximizing of efficiencies of inputs and resources. This group offers the best opportunity for achieving the objectives of increasing or maximizing real incomes for themselves, and for producing marketable quantities of products which will feed more than their immediate families. As a specific target group, the small semi-intensive farmer has largely been overlooked by international assistance, although this is now being rectified with the deserved interest in integrated farming, producing fish and shellfish with animal and plant husbandry.
UNDP/FAO have assumed too much in the generalization and massing of target groups. This is due to the mistaken belief that aquaculture is simple and appealing work, and therefore ideal for the poor rural communities to undertake en masse. This is not true.
To succeed, projects have to be selective and to use those individuals who are prepared to commit themselves to farming. The composition of the target group, in terms of which individuals have the desire to farm fish and shellfish, is of prime consideration for future assistance, especially within communities without much tradition in fish culture or fishing. Quantifying the potential farmers within a community is an important socio-anthropological task, as well as analyses of projects to determine the success/attrition rates of typical target communities being introduced to new technologies such as aquaculture. These are priorities to assist UNDP/FAO project planning for the sector.
Careful identification of the potential producers is important for all three aquaculture systems, namely, extensive, semi-intensive and intensive farming, and each system has its own demands. For example, although the managerial and technical capabilities are fewer for extensive systems, the number of individuals required for one man/one pond farms, who are needed to make up a significant development project, is very large. The demands on the owner/operators and owner/non-operators of semi-intensive systems, particularly when integrated with animal and crop husbandry, are high on both managerial and technical ability, but the number of such individuals for any large project will be relatively few. For the intensive systems, where few or even only one individual is required for a project, the demand is for managerial ability and wealth to hire the necessary technical competence.
Certain communities have greater potential for adaptation to fish farming. The incidence of successful and established farmers is higher in communities with some tradition in fishing than in purely rural agricultural and pastoral living. For example, a number of lake fishermen have adapted readily to fish cage farming, and coastal small-scale fishermen have become shrimp farmers. But there is always a natural selection of good farmers, and an attrition of disinterested individuals.
Auto-consumption amongst the producer and his immediate family for extensive farming practices is high, together with other relations in the community who share or steal his fish. This high auto-consumption and total utilization of the production from rural fish ponds is the alternative rationale to increasing real incomes for most international assistance in the aquaculture sector, namely producing benefits in kind. Because of the simplicity of the extensive system, that is, one man with perhaps only one pond demanding few inputs, and the potential for large numbers of such units, fish farming will continue to be an important rural practice for producing animal protein within many rural communities for immediate consumption. Auto-consumption among producers who adopt semi-intensive systems is also high among their immediate families who, for the most part, provide their labour in exchange. Similarly, certain intensive farms provide the product in exchange for wages or benefits. However, on the whole, semi-intensive and intensive fanning practices offer little for alleviating the nutritional requirements of large numbers of individuals as producers, as the labour requirement of such operations is small.
Unfortunately, the producers of farmed fish and shellfish for either increased income or for the nutritional benefit of their immediate families do not operate their appropriate systems in isolation. They are competitors among their neighbours for land and water. They compete not only with other culturists but also with terrestrial farmers. Together they may also compete for the same resources as other industries including recreation and urban development, and consequently for energy, labour, and all necessary equipment and materials. According to the levels and pressures from the components of this dynamic milieu, the would-be producer must assess his overall risk and react accordingly.
2.3.1 Local infrastructure level
2.3.2 National infrastructure level
2.3.3 National sector management
2.3.4 Global and regional management
The communities as a whole benefit from inputs at four different levels, namely:
- Local infrastructure level
- National infrastructure level
- National sector management
- Global and regional management
This level is the recipient of much of development assistance to aquaculture, primarily because it concerns the supply of inputs to the producers. These are biotechnical inputs, such as the supply of seed, feeds, and fertilizers, but also the associated inputs of credit at the local level, transportation, energy, information through an extension service - all of which are directed at producers to enable them to increase production.
Direct assistance to produce or maintain inputs readily realizes effects. At the biotechnical level, aquaculture systems do not function without attention to regular and reliable supplies of seed, feeds, and fertilizers. However, different aquaculture systems require these inputs to varying degrees. For farmers who produce extensively, these inputs must cost little or nothing and such resources must be available locally. Extensive farming practices cannot be sustained by the costly inputs from hatcheries or feed/fertilizer plants. On the other hand, farmers who produce semi-intensively or intensively will not survive without such reliable inputs, but at the right prices.
Assistance at the biotechnical level for these and other inputs remains a priority, but with careful attention to the real needs of the target groups. Too many projects have developed the resources for such inputs, that is, constructed hatcheries or supplied feed mills, without concern for the economic and social constraints of the farmers. The same problem is reflected in projects which supply non-technical inputs, such as credit and extension services. Local credit has been made available calculated on the projected costs of inputs from such industrialized facilities. The collateral for such credit has been beyond the ability of the small farmer and the economics of his particular system. Fortunately, few small farmers take advantage of such credit, either because it is beyond their means, or the procedures are complicated, or the terms of the agreement poor. Local credit does not appear to be in short supply and, while the terms may appear less favourable, it is better adapted to the local social circumstances.
Extension services are essential for aquaculture projects working at the farmer level. Many extension projects, responding to the increasing demands of governments, have undertaken too much and became over-stretched. Monitoring of extension activities is important to maintain a cost efficiency of the service. This is necessary for the governments to know as the service is absorbed into the appropriate agency. The appropriateness of the agency is important for an efficient and permanent extension service, specifically avoiding those agencies which have other regulatory functions such as game wardens.
Different extension service systems respond to different aquaculture systems. The training and visit system appears to be the most appropriate for projects concerned with large numbers of small farmers, together with frequent refresher courses for the extension workers. It is possible for agricultural extension workers to participate in aquaculture extension provided that the systems in both fields are not complex. They are not practical if the agricultural worker is practising with specialist crops.
All the modern extension aids are invaluable for fish farmers at all levels, and remain a vital part of the extension workers needs. Preference should be given to cheap aids which can be left with the farmers, as well as use of the more costly video films for use in class and group instruction.
Demonstrations at model farms are more practical and useful than either demonstrations at government farms or research centres. Extension work based on the use of model farmers must be encouraged. Model farms have the advantage in that they are directly allied to real production and sales.
Together with the local infrastructure level, the national infrastructure is the other largest recipient of assistance within the sector. It includes training, particularly at a high level, research and development, and the organization behind the production and supply of the inputs as already detailed, for example, credit, biotechnical resources, etc.
Assistance to aquaculture through the support of high-level training is productive and rewarding, particularly the long-term training programmes for 30-35 candidates organized through the regional programmes awarding academic qualifications and diplomas through the cooperation of local institutions. Results with long-term training for 2-3 individuals through national projects are also successful. A recurring problem is to find suitable candidates for training, especially candidates from countries with no background in aquaculture, and the right place to train. Good candidates can come from many other disciplines, including fishery biology, veterinary science, agricultural biologists. A background in aquaculture is useful for high-level training candidates, but not essential.
One difficulty associated with aquaculture training, particularly at the higher level, is subsequent job placement. Many countries readily overestimate the real need for such trained personnel, who then become lost to the sector. Of high priority for the assistance agencies is to identify the real needs for such advanced level trainees. At the present time, unlike agriculture, aquaculture does not have any information which can describe the disposition of professional and non-professional individuals who make up a sector supporting a specific aquaculture industry. This is a priority for the planning of future support to high-level training.
The 2-3 week short-term training programmes, which are organized by UNDP/FAO regional and national programmes, and the programmes of other organizations and agencies, are greatly in demand. The quality of both trainer and trainee in short term courses in aquaculture is now high. Typical training courses accommodate 20-24 individuals and may have 10-12 specialist teachers. Short-term training courses are better if restricted to special aquaculture topics, such as hatchery technology, diseases of aquaculture animals, fish breeding, etc., and cater to such practitioners already. There is no complication with post-course placement for participants.
Increased emphasis must continue to be placed on the short-term specialist training course, together with courses for the middle-level managers and leaders. Although the numbers of such individuals remain to be quantified, they are not small and cannot be accommodated through international training courses. Such training must be done at the national level. This will require an intensive effort to train effective national trainers first, and to monitor the national training programmes which they will handle.
The results of assistance to aquaculture research and development are not always productive unless carefully monitored and directed. Emphasis has been on applied biotechnical research, and this must continue especially where the work is directed towards increasing production. However, there is also a need to undertake more broadly-based research, working on problems associated with economic analyses, marketing, social and cultural backgrounds of target groups, labour analyses, etc. For the most part these have been neglected by assistance projects.
Applied research features strongly in the programmes of many government agencies responsible for the development of aquaculture. This is important in countries with limited research capacity (facilities, equipment and trained manpower) and efforts must be channelled into productive work to resolve problems and remove constraints in the development of production systems,
In general, applied research conducted as a part of a multi-function project produces more usable results, especially when actively integrated with production and demonstration functions, and particularly when carried through to marketing and sale of products. But it is necessary to distinguish clearly the different role of the two components, even though closely associated. Problems can arise when production takes preference over research data, with the loss of valuable time and investment.
The logical progression from applied research, through pilot trials and demonstration to commercial production, with supporting promotion, training, and extension, is rarely recognized and detailed in project document preparation. As a result, much activity is out of synchrony for orderly and sequential development of a viable technical package instigated by applied research. This is particularly true when technology is transferred between countries. Invariably some further research applications are required for local conditions before the progressive stages of development, but often this research and the intermediate phases are missed out.
Assistance agencies have contributed significantly to the capacity-building of countries in the area of aquaculture research. As a result, most countries have a nucleus of aquaculture expertise which, with additional inputs through assistance and government agreement, can be usefully deployed to national centres where there are facilities. Regional linkage of such centres becomes possible with added benefits. However, it is important to recognize that applied research in aquaculture, for many reasons, is a slow business, and therefore, projects designed to build up research capacity require lengthy commitments of 5-10 years. On the other hand, even though governments must recognize the importance of research to the development of aquaculture, the support must be in line with the size and potential of the sector, and importance in the national economy. In most countries, this will require a concentration of effort in few facilities. In this regard, the value of 'on farm' research using model commercial farms must be recognized.
National sector infrastructure includes also the controlled and reliable production of a variety of inputs to aquaculture, including the availability of land and water, construction of facilities, resources for the manufacture of feeds, the supply of seed (fry and fingerlings), and the supply of credit. As the majority of these inputs are in demand by other national sectors, especially in inland agricultural regions of developing countries, the importance of a national policy and plan to state priorities is apparent.
Assistance projects directed towards the primary beneficiaries, namely, the producers and consumers, must work in regions where the farmers own the land (or have free and legal right to space on lakes, rivers, coastlines, etc.) and that there is no disruptive competition for water. The primary inputs of seed and feed (and possibly fertilizer) must also be readily available and appropriately priced. Without these inputs, farmers are either unable to obtain credit for capital or operational purposes, or do not wish to avail themselves of bank credit with its unattractive repayment terms. At the present time, rural farmers continue to prefer the village credit system for their investments in aquaculture.
National sector management, specifically policy making and planning, has received little attention and assistance from the development organizations. The reasons for this neglect are not clear, but this has been a major omission, particularly as aquaculture is a new sector and few governments comprehend all its components. Few, if any, developing countries have declared policy statements related to aquaculture practices or even capture fisheries, although the latter are to be found if the sector is of significant size. Few, if any, developing countries include the word 'aquaculture' on any of their statutes.
Government recognition of the aquaculture sector as a productive and economic entity, with a clearly defined policy focusing on national issues, provides a vital basis for development. It encourages direct investment by the private sector; it guides indirect investment by the peripheral industries, the manufacturers and the suppliers of services; it justifies and assists donor agencies in their allocation of aid; and, last but not least, it rationalizes the scope of the sector so that investments in personnel, time and money (especially that of the government itself) are proportionate to its immediate needs and to its carefully projected growth.
Aquaculture has proved itself to be a difficult sector for governments to comprehend. Because of its confusion of obvious benefits but with a complexity of problems, most governments find it difficult to develop a coherent policy toward realistic development, and to evaluate its potential contributions rationally so that national priority and investment are in proportion to that potential. It is therefore imperative that governments have some declared policy related to the aquaculture sector, albeit a simple statement of intent which indicates priority objectives in terms of contributions to domestic food resources, increased incomes for producers, employment opportunities, and foreign exchange earnings. Consequently, it is important that government development plans and programmes are clearly linked to these priority objectives. This is necessary to direct investment in favour of those activities which will best achieve the set objectives, and to prevent wasted investment or unnecessary competition for limited national resources.
It is appropriate for assistance agencies to work with developing countries in the appraisal of the aquaculture sector. It is also appropriate and important to collect and provide information which will determine the sector's scope for growth, and thereby direct investment in its broadest meaning. The broad definition of the term 'investment' dictates that not only prime beneficiaries are considered, namely consumers and producers, but also secondary beneficiaries, such as manufacturers, suppliers of seed and feed, services, research and development, and the utilization of facilities and human resources. As a result, the capacity of the sector is immediately built up, and no single sector component advances too rapidly or is omitted, as has happened in the past. It is also appropriate for assistance agencies to prepare national aquaculture plans on behalf of governments, although more preferable to assist them to prepare the plans themselves thus adding to their own capacity. However the national plans are prepared, aid agencies prior to providing assistance should ensure that any project is in line with government planning and appropriately addresses over-riding socio-economic problems. Because of the novelty of aquaculture in many countries, assistance may have to begin with producing information and giving advice to governments regarding policy-related options for development and the preparation of a national plan.
Unfortunately, the resources of expertise to assist agencies to provide policy and planning advice are weak throughout the field as a whole. Professional planners in aquaculture do not exist. The compromise at the moment is to create planning teams with key disciplines in the field (such as biotechnology, engineers, economists, food technologists, marketers, etc., working with planners) who can be used by governments. The use of such teams by governments is not limited to planning, and their services can be maintained for continuing advice to government on policy and law, the viability of investments, environmental issues, etc. Providing the country with the capacity to undertake these tasks with its own resources of expertise is a primary role of assistance in aquaculture at the present time.
Good evident national sector management has been discouraged by lack of cooperation between assistance agencies, or between assistance agencies and the international/national development banks. At times the multiplicity of development projects, all operating independently to achieve their own philosophical objectives or target levels of financing, have totally overwhelmed governments to the detriment of individual projects and the sector as a whole. As aquaculture is a new sector for most developing countries, cooperation and coordination between donors are imperative to prevent overinvestment in facilities, research and development, in training the human resources needed by the sector, and especially for the utilization of the new nationals who are qualified and who must be the nucleus for growth. A national plan, if observed, assists coordination between organizations and institutions.
Coordination of aquaculture activities, and the collection, analysis and distribution of information are the prime global and regional responsibilities. Successful achievement is dependent on a large network of institutions and individuals with initiative to use the resources made available, and also to contribute to their growth.
Because of the diversity of aquaculture, and the substantial differences between geographic regions (which can be grouped into North, Central, and South America; the Caribbean; West and Central Africa, East and South Africa; the Mediterranean; the Near East; Asia, China and Southeast Asia; Oceania), these activities are best achieved through regional structures. The responsibilities of global management then become inter-regional communication and coordination, instigating new initiatives which have inter-regional benefits, promotion of TCDC activities, and the promotion of trade of aquaculture products between the regions. Assistance agencies are the most appropriate organizations for supporting these global responsibilities, because of their international mandates and apolitical roles. However, for global management to be accepted and used effectively, any organization responsible requires a permanency and stability which assistance agencies cannot guarantee. Global management has an important place in aquaculture development, particularly through these formative years, but if one individual programme (such as UNDP's Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme) is to have that responsibility then donors must coordinate their resources to provide it with sufficient long-term support and recognized authority.
Regional programmes in aquaculture development have contributed most through technical training, and little through their work in research and information exchange. There have been several modalities applied to 'regionalism'. The most productive has been networking of recognized lead centres, in anticipation that secondary networks will be structured at the country level. Networking is flexible and responsive to limited and fluctuating financial support, and all participants are active. The least productive has been the fixed regional centre supporting a multi-disciplinary team of aquaculture specialists. National regulations governing operations and management prevent such a centre from being upgraded to a regional centre of excellence. As a national centre, it does not attract financial support from members and the programmes do not generate regional vitality as some member nations have no active participation other than sending candidates for training each year.
The alternative to this type of regional centre is the independent international centre, based on the model developed by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research for agricultural research. Although such a model has not been tried for aquaculture, it is now more probable that specific networks for individual topics in a well-coordinated regional programme will be more productive than the fixed and costly international centre.
Regional programmes can work with both the public and private sectors with encouraging results, although care is necessary to provide only regional and not individual assistance; and aquaculture is well-suited in principle to integrate with regional fisheries and agricultural programmes (as well as national projects) but results so far are mixed. The most successful are those where the aquaculture component is well planned and a sector exists on which to build. Where aquaculture is a new introduction, they do not achieve good results. There are obvious advantages in combining aquaculture activities with rural development and it is right for assistance to give more encouragement to it, provided that the aquaculture component is recognized individually and receives appropriate attention.
Finally, the number of international and regional organizations and programmes presently active in aquaculture (particularly in Asia) are proliferating to a degree where there is confusion at all levels from governments to producers. Although the time required to develop a new organization or a regional programme differs from region to region, and there are often clear difficulties which prevent some from ever becoming useful and lasting, UNDP/FAO do establish competing programmes within the same region. There is also a certain amount of competition or overlapping responsibilities between new regional programmes and the long-established UNDP/FAO fisheries commissions. Obviously funding for these programmes is a major constraint, but the modus operandi of UNDP to create regional programmes which are then appropriately financed by the regional participants themselves is dubious at best. The regions cannot afford all these programmes, particularly as some of their activities overlap and also involve the same national representatives. It is important that UNDP and the assistance agencies review their objectives of regional programmes, and not only those involving aquaculture.