Colin E. Nash
Programme Leader, Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to WOMEN IN AQUACULTURE. This workshop has been instigated jointly by the Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme (ADCP) and the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD). Together, ADCP and NORAD have conceived this event to try to quantify the present participation of women in this emerging technology of aquaculture.
Women are already very active in aquaculture, but we have never been able to answer accurately the question which is repeatedly asked of us, 'How many women work in the sector?'. But documenting the evidence of their activity is only a small part of the task we have set for ourselves. As with all information, it is only of value if it is put to good use. In our case, we need to analyse the information to show where there are opportunities to improve their participation, and where we can exploit new or further opportunities to get more women involved.
Consequently, may I quote once again the objectives of the ADCP/NORAD workshop, and the purposes of your presence and the parameters of your contributions during these next three days. The first objective is to identify where there are needs and opportunities to:
(i) reinforce the participation of women in the sector, and
(ii) advance their skills so that women can participate in the sector.
The second objective is to recommend approaches and outline development projects which can train and/or utilize the participation of women for both public and private investment in aquaculture.
I do not have to remind you Chat the more you can get into the second objective, the greater will be your contribution to the speed with which your colleagues have opportunities to participate in the future.
It has been a very difficult task to select the participants in the workshop. Once it was known that such a session was planned, many of your equally deserving friends and associates wanted to come. However, selection has been based on a number of criteria, which merit some explanation.
(i) At this stage it was important to get the baseline information of the present level of participation of women in the sector. It was necessary to have individuals who had spent time actively in the sector and who had quantifiable data at hand. Consequently, I requested eight of you to prepare working papers, and the rest to bring one page of factual data which could possibly be added to the working papers.
(ii) It was important to get broad representation of the sector, and to have individuals from every sub-sectoral component, such as management and administration, as well as education and research; I also needed producers from both the public and the private sectors, as well as individuals involved in consumption and marketing. Consequently, I divided the sector into its six accepted components and invited about five or six of you to represent each one, each with some different background or experience.
(iii) It was also important that the industries in the geographic regions of the world were represented. Aquaculture production differs widely from region to region and, although the principles of aquaculture are common, the resources and therefore the applications are at times very different; I needed individuals who could provide information over a broad background of the aquaculture industries worldwide, so that between you any country, any aquaculture system, and any species technology were known. Consequently, I tried to obtain representatives from all regions with diverse backgrounds.
(iv) Finally, and not least, the participants were all women active in the sector.
I would like to explain the background of the structure of the workshop, as several of you may not understand my motivation fully.
I believe that too much attention in the past has been given to the biotechnical problems of aquaculture, to the neglect of the non-biotechnical problems (such as economics, sociology, marketing, planning, management, etc.). The need for the future is to make certain that attention is given equally to all these components simultaneously. I believe that the best assistance we can give to aquaculture development at the present time, and that is for all countries, is assistance which builds the capacity of each country to enable it to advance and maintain aquaculture as a food-producing industry. Gone are the days for aquaculture to be considered as a popular pastime and an interesting technology dominated by biological researchers.
Capacity building for a sector requires attention at six levels. The first two are concerned with the primary beneficiaries of the industry, namely (1) the Consumers of the Product, and (2) the Producers of the Product. The remaining four levels are concerned with the support services behind the primary beneficiaries and the infrastructure of the sector; these are called (3) Local Infrastructure, (4) National Infrastructure, (5) National Sector Management, and (6) Global and Regional Management.
Each level of the sector has three dimensions. These are socio-economic, technical and managerial, with managerial dimensions having nine activites covering information, planning, marketing, financial, personnel, etc. The resulting matrix therefore describes all the building-blocks of a sector, and also acts as a check-list. Obviously at each level the individual building blocks will merit different emphases, but at least each one will receive some attention.
I will not burden you with more of this capacity building theory now, but I can assure you that efforts towards capacity building will influence development projects more and more in the next decade. Consequently, by structuring the workshop on these six levels I am anticipating the framework into which your final results and recommendations will be most readily placed, and subsequently used to the greatest benefit.
Thus, I look forward to your very professional participation in this workshop, giving due consideration to all the levels of the sector for women to participate in, and not just those levels which are relatively easy to discuss and to think about. You will have to concentrate on the approach, and conscientiously avoid prolonged attention to one or two levels.
If you are successful in abiding by this framework (and I am certain that you shall), the workshop will be a landmark event on this basis alone, and it will enable the ADCP to focus more attention on capacity building as the right framework for planning effective development. I also think that the framework will help the final results and recommendations to be phrased in language suitable for the findings of professional managers, administrators, and representatives of a viable and economic industry, and not merely part-time players.
I am contributing to the workshop two papers of my own which are being published under the auspices of the ADCP. They have some purpose.
The first is 'Observations on International Technical Assistance to Aquaculture' (ADCP/REP/86/23). You will notice immediately that the structure of the paper follows the framework behind capacity building. I would draw your attention to a number of facts relevant to your thoughts over these next three days.
(i) Although one of the roles of aquaculture often stated in national policies is to increase employment opportunities, aquaculture itself is not a labour intensive industry. There are good opportunities for employment, but aquaculture is not a panacea for countries with large numbers of unemployed.
(ii) The mainstay of the aquaculture sector, the producers or farmers, are individuals who are entrepreneurs who have a desire to farm. In planned development projects, the farmers have therefore to be carefully selected. It is a mistake to generalize and mass target groups - such as the unemployed, or displaced fishermen, or women - as primary beneficiaries without considerable socio-cultural research and analysis.
(iii) Governments, on the whole, make poor producers. Consequently, recommending more government production projects supported by technical assistance is not going to help the sector get established, or women more opportunities.
My second paper is 'Future Economic Outlook for Aquaculture and Related Assistance Needs' (ADCP/REP/87/25). Again, I draw your attention to the following points which are relevant to your thoughts for the future of women in the industry.
(i) Although the future of aquaculture is very promising and is clearly a growth sector of the food industry, there has to be realism on the part of investors - using the word in its broadest meaning. Aquaculture products must compete on the marketplace with those of the capture fisheries, and with the cheap white meats, poultry and pork. Furthermore, the aquaculture industry must compete with other industries for resources, especially agriculture for water and the tourist industry for space. Consequently, not every country has aquaculture as a high economic priority or needs aquaculture at all, no matter how interesting it may be to a few individuals.
(ii) The ADCP is currently trying to work on labour analyses of the aquaculture industry to help guide national investment in capital facilities, and in training and education, but as yet we have little data. However, it is clear that some countries are investing substantially in infrastructure and training, and the potential value of the industry does not merit it. In this paper you will find the most recent production data of over 175 countries. If you approximated a value to these figures, and estimated the future potential for some countries, then you will determine quickly that large scale national investment in infrastructure and training, no matter how worthy, is not justified.
I have one thing more to say before I close. This workshop deals with Women in Aquaculture. I have invited only women to manage and be the principal participants in the workshop. The aquaculture staff of the ADCP, and that includes myself, and the FAO Regular Programme, are welcome to attend the sessions as contributors, but they are not principal participants.
I have been criticized for the organization of this workshop on two counts. First, I have been criticized (and only by women, no less) for not inviting men as principal participants. But I have no good reason to do so. Frankly, even in this small workshop of thirty carefully selected participants, there is probably not one question I can ask about aquaculture which cannot be answered by one of you. Thus, if during the next three days you need to know the typical labour force of a shrimp hatchery, or the organization for a credit programme in Africa, or the requirements of a project development document for UNDP, someone here among you will have the answer.
Second, I have been criticized for not holding this workshop in the field where production is going on. This, I feel, is the traditional thinking which has constrained aquaculture development. Production is obviously important, but no more than the other five levels of the sector as I have already explained. I believe that a wealth of field experience is gathered in this room to enable us to modernize our approach to development and achieve the objectives in the proper framework. Furthermore, but depending on the outcome of this workshop, the ADCP will seek financial support for regional conferences on the subject.
Consequently, I hope that you will prove me right in confining the participation only to women and holding the event here in Rome, and you prove my critics and your colleagues wrong.
With that I close. Both NORAD and the ADCP look forward to your results and recommendations on Thursday with considerable anticipation. Again, on behalf of the ADCP and NORAD, my thanks to you all for coming, and our good wishes for a most successful meeting.