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Appendix 1: Options for Small-Scale Aquaculture Development (Overview Paper)

by Elizabeth Harrison



1.1 Small-Scale Rural Aquaculture: Definitions and Limitations
1.2 Small-Scale Rural Aquaculture: Magnitude and Trends
1.3 Current Assistance to Aquaculture Development

1.1 Small-Scale Rural Aquaculture: Definitions and Limitations

The term "aquaculture" refers to a diverse range of practices, undertaken in equally diverse locations with varying constraints, potentials and objectives. According the FAO, aquaculture is the "farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs and crustaceans and aquatic plants". This refers equally to large scale, high input, industrial fish culture and small-scale, low input, low output fish farming. Not only is each very different in terms of culture technique, but objectives are likely to diverge. For the former, principal motivations relate to productivity and financial profit. For the latter, a complex blend of food security, income generation, livelihood strengthening, and diversification are all likely to be important. Between the two extremes are varying levels of input and intensity of cultivation: a continuum.

The bulk of international assistance has been to smaller scale, low input and output aquaculture. This is also the focus of this document. For definitional simplicity we refer to this as small-scale rural aquaculture; the term should also convey notions of fish farming as an aspect of rural development, with objectives related mainly to household food security and income generation. For many of the adopters of this kind of aquaculture, it is a secondary activity, providing a supplement to incomes, a source of extra food, and a diversification strategy. Such small-scale rural aquaculture may be integrated with other aspects of farming, such as crop and livestock production, with each aspect enhancing the benefits of the others.

Much coastal aquaculture is undertaken at a small-scale, for semi-subsistence purposes. However, coastal aquaculture and inland fish fanning have a number of significant technical and social differences. Principally, it is often undertaken by people who have a greater association with fishing than with farming (Pollnac 1982). Systems of land and water tenure and control tend to be different; communal ownership and exploitation may be more common. The activity may be an supplement to fishing rather than an aspect of farming.

Although small-scale rural aquaculture has a long history in some parts of Asia (China and India for example) which is reflected in a thriving sector, optimism about the prospects for developing similar models elsewhere has waned in recent years. This is most marked in Africa south of the Sahara and Latin America. However, some parts of Asia with little history of small-scale fish farming have faced problems too. The precise nature of the "failure" is complex (see 2.3 below). However, certain factors are characteristic: the reluctance of farmers to adopt the technology, a tendency for ponds to be abandoned or badly managed, less than optimal productivity, the poor sustainability of aquaculture development projects. On the departure of external assistance, aquaculture activities often slow down, and eventually stop.

Straightforward comparison with the aquaculturally developed countries of Asia is misleading for two reasons. Firstly, the long history of fish farming in much of Asia is overlooked. More importantly, the comparison should be placed in context. These problems also occur in attempts to promote many other technologies for rural development, from small livestock to agroforestry. Political and economic weaknesses have combined with inappropriate or insensitive projects, often reflecting donor priorities rather than the needs of the farmers or national governments. In analysis of the problems facing small-scale rural aquaculture development, it is important to learn from other sectors too.

In 1987, the FAO/NORAD/UNDP Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture drew attention to a number of weaknesses in aquaculture development projects. The problems related to the lack of well-articulated policies and rationales for aquaculture development, to faults in project design and conception, and to poor management. These are elaborated in part two, below.

Recently, a number of attempts have been made to learn from the findings of the Thematic Evaluation and the prevailing sense of earlier failure. These include the work of the FAO's Aquaculture for Local Community Development (ALCOM) programme in Africa and the Regional Project for Aquaculture Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (AQUILA I AND II). Research has also been supported through the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand, the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), the Overseas Development Administration of the UK (ODA), and the French Ministère de la Coopération et du Développement (Lazard et. al 1991). The WB/FAO/UNDP/CEC Study of International Fisheries Research (SIFR) and its follow up studies in Sub-Saharan Africa (Coche et al 1994) and Latin America (AQUILA II 1994), have provided a comprehensive overview of development and research needs and an indicative action plan for research.

Although diverse in geographical coverage and approach, this work has produced a number of common findings. These include the need for greater clarity about objectives, the means for their achievement and their measurement. Other findings concern the need to support aquaculture within the framework of rural development as a whole, the importance of the institutional context, the need for more iterative and appropriate approaches to extension, and to the need to rethink the concepts of target groups previously in operation. Efforts to address these issues and to build on more participatory approaches to rural development (such as participatory appraisal and fanning systems research and extension) are relatively recent. Little is therefore known about their impact and effectiveness.

The aim of this discussion document is to highlight some of the key issues which have emerged as central in the development of rural aquaculture and to draw together recent experiences of attempts at their implementation. Through a process of synthesis and analysis, it aims to suggest key issues of policy and practice. The document focuses mainly on non-technical factors. Technical constraints to aquaculture development remain important. However, in the past, insufficient attention has been given to their interaction with social, economic and political factors. A fuller understanding of these aspects may give greater scope for technical success.

Part one provides an introduction to small-scale rural aquaculture, reviewing trends in the regions and the history of its promotion. Changes in international assistance to aquaculture, with regional differences, are outlined, as is the current status of projects and development assistance.

Part two reviews the issues in greater detail, synthesizing and analyzing the results of the studies mentioned above. These are placed within the overall context of the findings of the Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture.

Part three is a discussion of alternative approaches to rural development in general, and their application to small-scale rural aquaculture development in particular. This includes an analysis of the concept of participation and the methodologies which result from it, and of new approaches to project planning. Case studies of the application of recent findings on small-scale rural aquaculture support the discussion.

1.2 Small-Scale Rural Aquaculture: Magnitude and Trends

1.2.1 Data Limitations

Because the products of small-scale rural aquaculture are only partially marketed, and objectives relating to the production of fish are only part of the story, quantification is inherently problematic. Aggregate statistics of production and aid may disguise as much as they reveal. Without knowledge of the constituents of production data, or details of the level of support for different types of activities, it may be all too easy to draw simple and inaccurate conclusions.

On the one hand, production figures are notoriously unreliable. Satia (1989) points out in his survey of aquaculture in Africa, that in Kenya, as much as 50% of aquaculture production is consumed directly and therefore not recorded. The recent FAO Review of the State of World Fisheries Resources for aquaculture (FAO 1995b) qualifies its data by noting a number of problems. These include inconsistency in data from member states because of changing methods of classification; problems relating to the definition of aquaculture and its separation from capture fisheries; missing data; the paucity of data on the domestic market for aquaculture products.

Equally important however in the case of small-scale rural aquaculture, is the fact that the link between the rationales of food security and livelihood strengthening and simple production of fish is by no means obvious. Although useful as one among a range of indicators, this kind of data gives scant information about the use of the product, who is doing the fish farming, and ultimately, who the beneficiaries are. Per capita production and availability figures give little indication of what is happening to individuals because of disparities in how individuals gain access to resources. Increases in overall production do not necessarily mean increases in consumption for those most in need.

The disparities are caused by a range of determinants: gender, age, social status, ethnicity. They operate both at the level of the community (how particular groups or households gain access to benefits), and within households themselves. These disparities are well documented and discussed in much literature relating to rural development in general, but the way they operate in the context of small-scale rural aquaculture is only beginning to be explored (Harrison et al. 1994). For example, though the fish produced through rural aquaculture may be cheap in comparison to other sources of animal protein, a minimal purchasing power is required as well (Ben-Yami 1986). Those who can afford to by may well not be those with the most serious nutritional needs, and linkages need to be established. Similarly, the existence of aquaculture within a household does not automatically indicate benefits for all members. This may depend who controls the product, and on distributional practices. Negative effects can include the use of human food for fish fodder and the diversion of household labour from staple crop production.

The following data should therefore be read as indicative of broad trends only. They can provide only a partial indicator of the role that small-scale rural aquaculture actually plays in rural livelihoods.

1.2.2 Aggregate Aquaculture Production

The importance of aquaculture to national food supplies varies greatly by region.

In 1992 aquaculture contributed 24% of the fish supply in Asia, but only 1.9% in the former USSR and Latin America, and 1.3% in Africa. In Africa south of the Sahara, the contribution was less than 0.7% (FAO 1995b). For Africa, though fish is an important part of overall animal protein consumption, no major aquaculture producers has an annual per caput aquaculture output of more than 1 kg. For example, Zambia derives 25% of its animal proteins from fish, but only 1.7% of this from aquaculture.

Although in total, African production has increased from 24,000 t in 1984 to 67,000 t in 1992, and its share of global value produced has more than doubled in the same period, there were marked disparities between Africa North and South of the Sahara. The increase in share of aquaculture value indicates a trend towards the culture of more valuable commodities North of the Sahara, destined for European markets. It therefore is not necessarily illustrative of a consolidation or development of small-scale rural aquaculture.

The major aquaculture producers in Sub-Saharan Africa are Nigeria (63%), South Africa (12%), Kenya (4%), Zambia (4%), Zaire (3%) and Madagascar (2.5%). Among the larger producers. South Africa and Zaire expanded production more than ninefold between 1984 and 1992, and Kenya more than fivefold.

In Asia, Chinese aquaculture production dominates the region. Chinese aquaculture represents 49% of global production by volume, but only 30% of its value. This is because in general Chinese aquaculture has resulted in the production of cheap food through the predominance of the culture of carps, whereas in other parts of Asia, there have been significant increases in the production of higher value species, especially shrimps. Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand were the major producers. Thus, though China produced more than four times the volume of aquaculture products than Southeast Asia in 1992, the value of the sub-sector was only 1.6 times as great. The food security and income diversification effects of the cultivation for shrimps for export are unlikely to be the same as those of small-scale rural aquaculture in ponds as described above. However, as elsewhere, little production data is available for this kind of aquaculture in Southeast Asia.

A similar picture exists in Latin America, where there has been a great expansion of aquaculture, in terms of both volume and value. Volume increased by nearly 180% during the period 1984-1992 to reach 2.3% of the global total, while value increased by 270%. The major producers are Equador (36%) and Chile (21%). Chile has had a massive expansion, but this has been due mainly to salmon ranching. In Equador, shrimp culture is predominant. Again though, less is known about the production from small-scale rural aquaculture.

1.2.3 The Promotion of Small-Scale Rural Aquaculture

Small scale rural aquaculture developed in parts of Asia without significant external promotion over thousands of years. In China, aquaculture dates back at least four thousand years. Other countries, such as Vietnam and the Philippines have practiced aquaculture for around 300 years. There is huge variation in types of culture system, according to both environmental factors and economic and social structure. In general though, the promotion of small-scale rural aquaculture has been able to build on a background in integration and intensive resource management - something often lacking in Latin America and Africa south of the Sahara. In these regions, governments and international donors have been active in the promotion of small-scale rural aquaculture over a relatively short timescale - almost entirely within the last century and predominantly over the last thirty years.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, early attempts to develop aquaculture took place during the colonial period (Harrison 1994). Initially aquaculture was introduced as a source of exotic fish such as trout, for sport fishing. The major drive to introduce aquaculture as a source of food came in the 1950s. During this time and in the 1960s, there was a rapid expansion offish farming in the region. Colonial authorities encouraged the digging of ponds, supported by the provision of fingerlings from government hatcheries and extension. By 1960, it was estimated that over 320,000 ponds had been built in 30 countries (Balarin 1988). There is however little indication of levels of activity or benefits derived from the ponds.

There is a consensus that by the 1960s, the results of most colonial efforts were beginning to collapse (Grover et al. 1980, Pillai 1988, Satia 1989). One reason was that the newly independent states were not in a position to maintain the infrastructure (particularly extension and fingerling supply), established by the colonial powers. In addition, pond maintenance and management reflected the initial lack of commitment of farmers who were often coerced or given financial incentives to construct ponds. There were numerous technical difficulties in pond construction, water supply and over-breeding of tilapia. Colonial and early post colonial attempts at small-scale rural aquaculture development therefore are considered to have failed because of a combination of faults in conception and approach and technical weakness.

The second wave of promotion of aquaculture has taken place over the last thirty or so years, with the support of international development agencies. Aquaculture projects have aimed to build or rehabilitate infrastructure such as state farms and hatcheries. They have also been involved with staff training, fingerling production and distribution and support to extension. Behind all of this was the aim of increasing the production of cultivated fish in the region. To a lesser extent, projects have been involved in applied biotechnical research, data collection and studies of the potential for development.

National support to aquaculture development has included extension and the supply of production inputs, research, education and training. This support has been influenced by a range of factors: the political and economic environment, physical resources, the need to respond to donor requirements. In Africa during the 1980s, a number of countries have accepted structural adjustment programmes. There has been a rethinking of accepted approaches to government involvement in development. In many sectors, the role of the state is increasingly reduced. Effects have included cutbacks in government expenditure on infrastructure and welfare services and the cutting of subsidies which have supported public sector employees. As with other sectors, aquaculture has been affected by a lack of operating funds and poor morale among public sector employees. At the same time, there has been pressure to turn previously government - controlled activities over to the private sector. Most significant among these activities is the production and distribution of fingerlings.

A range of weaknesses have been identified in national institutional support to aquaculture development. The sector usually receives low priority for development funds, which is a problem shared with the agriculture sector in general. In most countries there is also no coherent national plan for aquaculture development, although aquaculture receives a mention in national development plans. Although not characteristic of the aquaculture sector alone, there has been a heavy reliance on external funding. As a result, projects and development activities are often based on donor priorities

In Latin America, small-scale rural aquaculture development is characterized by a very different political and socio-economic context. Nevertheless, there are many parallels with the Sub-Saharan African case. As in Africa, there is little history of small-scale rural aquaculture development and the influence of structural adjustment policies is still being felt. International assistance began to flow to the region during the 1950s and 1960s because it was felt that small-scale rural aquaculture could make a significant contribution to rural development. Although more recently attention has been paid to marine shrimp, early development efforts focused on the culture of freshwater fishes. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) was the major donor, working in close collaboration with Peace Corps volunteers. Assistance was particularly focused on Central America, Brazil, and Colombia. Again as in Africa, the strategy was essentially the creation or strengthening of fish culture stations from which to deploy extension.

A common practice for the promotion of small-scale rural aquaculture has been to subsidize production activity from government funds without creating the stimulus required to achieve autonomy (AQUILA II 1994). Extension services in the region are constrained by a lack of operational funds and transportation. Other problems identified include:

"Lack of training and extension work, lack of care in identifying the social groups to be benefitted and in understanding their culture and traditions, and often an absence of economic logic that could justify the self-sustainability of the activity, have been the main causes of failure of these projects" (AQUILA II 1994;127)

On the termination of external assistance to aquaculture development, a familiar pattern emerged; a substantial reduction of activity, and a failure to maintain fish culture stations. For example in Guatemala there was massive abandonment on conclusion of the Programme for the Extension and Development of Aquaculture in 1979. Similar reports exist for Paraguay, Honduras and El Salvador (COPESCAL 1991). However, as Wijkstrom (1989) notes, the main limitations were not of a technical nature. Institutional weakness was much more important

Recently, government and donor support to small-scale, subsistence, oriented aquaculture has been reduced. There are fewer projects supported with international development aid, and the majority of assistance now comes from non government organizations. As in Sub-Saharan Africa, this occurs in the context of a trend towards declining state intervention, deregulation and privatization. Centralized planning models are no longer the dominant paradigm.

1.3 Current Assistance to Aquaculture Development

According to information supplied by donors and collated on the Fisheries Project Information System (FIPIS) database, between 1988 and 1993, more than 440 aquaculture projects were started. More than US$910 million was committed to aquaculture grants and loans during the same period.

In the six years to 1993, the proportion of all aquaculture aid to Asia fell from 80% to 74% of the total, while the proportion to Africa rose from 11% to 15%. The proportion of aquaculture aid to Latin America has remained static at around 5% of the total. Of all of these projects, 39% were bilateral and a further 35% multilateral. About 18% were executed by FAO. However, in monetary terms, 72% of aid to aquaculture was provided by the development banks, with 16% bilateral and 6% multilateral donors.

The data available in FIPIS gives a broad overview of assistance to the sector. This assistance however covers a wide range of interventions, many of which are not directly relevant to small-scale rural aquaculture development. The kinds of activity covered by FIPIS are divided into ten categories. Of these, by far the majority of projects are directed towards research rather than directly productive activities. Details of the nature of the assistance and particularly the approach taken in aquaculture development projects is, however, not available.


2.1 The Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture
2.2 Post-Thematic Evaluation Perspectives
2.3 Rethinking Objectives
2.4 The Institutional Context
2.5 Aquaculture as Farming
2.6 Research and Development Linkages

2.1 The Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture

The Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture (FAO/NORAD/UNDP 1987) reviewed FAO/UNDP technical assistance to aquaculture during the period 1974-1984. Thus, it did not consider the contributions of other international or national assistance during the period. However it did provide a wide-ranging analysis of some of the problems confronting aquaculture development, particularly in Latin America and Africa south of the Sahara. Although the focus of the Evaluation was not solely on small-scale rural aquaculture (the potential for industrial aquaculture is also discussed), most analysis and policy recommendations follow the assumption that the fish farmer is a operate at a small-scale and sees aquaculture as a means of risk spreading.

The Evaluation was based on a study undertaken between 1984 and 1986. Fifty three projects were reviewed in a desk study. Thirty nine of these in 15 countries were visited.

According the Evaluation, assessment of the success or failure of aquaculture development projects was hampered by a lack of post-project evaluations. Impact was however felt to be most visible in Africa and to have been greater for projects where assistance had been continued over a long period. The Thematic Evaluation specified a number of problems regarding support to small-scale rural aquaculture. In 1976, an FAO-sponsored conference in Japan had made a number of recommendations (the Kyoto Strategy) which subsequently formed the basis for FAO-executed projects. According to the Thematic Evaluation, there was however, a fundamental weakness in the Kyoto Strategy: its assumption that the problem was one of the optimal management of research, training, and extension, thus not focussing attention on the "need in each instance to establish the economic viability and social acceptability of proposed culture practices" (FAO/NORAD/UNDP 1987; viii).

Problems varied by region, but most were concentrated in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the most important are summarized in box 1, below.

On the basis of these findings, the Evaluation also made a number of recommendations. The recommendations referred to project identification, design, and implementation. Key elements of the recommendations are summarized in box 2. In addition to these, regionally specific recommendations were made. While for Africa and to a lesser extent, Latin America, the emphasis was on the development of extensive and semi-intensive tilapia culture, in Asia the stress was more on the intensification of existing activities.

Box 1: Key Findings of the Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture

Poor project design and preparation

Projects were initiated in a haphazard manner without supporting analysis to relate the likely results to national socio-economic needs.

"few donors have a well articulated policy for their technical assistance in aquaculture. This is reflected, on occasion, in hasty and uncritical attempts to transfer technology, often not suitable to the needs of the recipient country" (FAO/NORAD 1987; vii)

A failure to learn from earlier mistakes, especially in Africa

The majority of projects launched in Africa essentially replicated and were based on the same premises as those launched in colonial times. They rehabilitated old stations, and tried to reestablish what already existed. In many cases, the same personnel from colonial projects were employed on development projects in me 1960s and 1970s:

"...few analyses were ewer made of the reasons for the collapse in the first place in order to draw lessons for the design of future projects. No analysis has ever been published" (FAO/NORAD 1987;40)

Weak headquarters-field staff cooperation

Failures in project implementation were strongly influenced by the weaknesses in cooperation between field staff and those in the headquarters of sponsoring organizations. Project management was hindered by a tendency to concentrate on achieving physical results as opposed to transfer of know-how to counterpart staff.

A lack of government commitment and capacity

The continuation of results achieved had been jeopardized in countries where government commitment was too low, or capacity was small. Several projects were hampered by government failures to provide agreed counterpart contributions.

Box 2: Key Recommendations of the Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture

The conditions for aquaculture development

* That detailed attention should be given to the recipient government's effective commitment to aquaculture.

* That fish species selected should be economically viable and socially acceptable.


* That governments should formulate the rationale for which UNDP/FAO technical assistance is requested.

* That both aquaculturists and social scientists should participate in the appraisal of the project rationale.

Project design

* That project design should involve careful selection of counterparts

* That aquaculture projects should be integrated with fisheries development, agriculture and/or rural development

* That project activities should not be initiated without an effective commitment of at feast ten years from the parties concerned (UNDP/FAO and the recipient government).

Assistance to extension

* That assistance to extension should be such that in the last one to two years, the donor agency only pays for expatriate staff. More use should be made of model farmers and extensionists from agriculture


* Whenever technical assistance is provided in relation to seed production, the skills and knowledge should be effectively conveyed to other aquaculture producers. Hatchery technology should be within the reach of me average producer.

* Attention should be paid to improved use of agricultural by-products.


* The first priority for research should be that which will help provide direct support to practicing aquaculturists.

2.2 Post-Thematic Evaluation Perspectives

Since the Thematic Evaluation was carried out, a number of studies and interventions have gathered and analyzed information relating to small-scale rural aquaculture. In several cases, the findings of the Thematic Evaluation were a significant reference point and motivator. Importantly, the stress on the need to understand the social and economic context for small-scale rural aquaculture development, and its interaction with the technical, has been influential. The call for a more holistic approach to small-scale rural aquaculture development has been reflected in the topics and key issues covered. This post-Thematic Evaluation work includes the following:


Aquaculture for Local Community Development (ALCOM)

Based in Harare, Zimbabwe, and executed by FAO, the Programme has been involved in research, methodology development, and pilot-scale interventions in the SADC region of Africa since 1986. It has produced more than 50 reports and studies, as well as a regular newsletter.

Regional Projects for Aquaculture Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (AQUILA I and II)

The projects ended in 1994. Phase I started in 1985 and phase II in 1992. AQUILA was first based in Brasilia and subsequently moved to Mexico city. Both phases were financed by the Italian government and executed by FAO. The projects aimed to be catalytic, working with countries throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region. They were responsible for the coordination of a range of courses, studies, and information dissemination activities.

The International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM)

ICLARM is a member of the Core Group of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) and is based in the Philippines. ICLARM scientists have conducted extensive research with farmers, from a farming systems perspective. Most work takes place in Asia, but there have also been projects in Malawi, Sierra Leone and Ghana.

Asian Institute of Technology (AST)

The AIT is an autonomous, international, post-graduate institution and is based in Bangkok, Thailand. Its activities include education, research and outreach. An aquaculture outreach project in Northeast Thailand, funded by the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) of the UK, explicitly treats aquaculture as an aspect of rural development.


WB/FAO/UNDP/CEC Study of International Fisheries Research (SIFR)

The study was promoted by a consortium of eighteen bilateral and multi-lateral development agencies, covering both fisheries and aquaculture. Because of a criticism of weak recipient-country involvement in the determination of priorities, follow up studies took place for aquaculture at the national level and were analyzed to establish regional and sub-regional priorities and action plans

Ministère de la Coopération et du Développement (France)

A study of aquaculture projects in Francophone Africa was carried out and an action plan proposed on the basis of this.

Overseas Development Administration of the UK (ODA)

Between 1991 and 1993, the ODA supported research which aimed to analyze the reasons for the supposed failure of small-scale rural aquaculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Research was carried out in Zambia, Malawi, and Kenya.

This work is clearly diverse, in terms of both scope and objectives. Nonetheless, some of its key published outputs have significant overlaps and commonalities. These are the subject of the following section.

Key texts referred to are:

AIT 1994. Partners in Development: The Promotion of Sustainable Aquaculture

ALCOM 1994. Aquaculture into the 21st Century in Southern Africa. Report prepared by the working group on the future of ALCOM.

AQUILA II 1994. Diagnostico Sobre el Estado de la Acuicultura en América Latina y el Caribe. Including SIFR follow-up report

AQUILA II 1994. Resultados y Recomendaciones Del Proyecto. Project final report.

Coche et al 1994. Aquaculture Development and Research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Synthesis of national reviews and action plan for research. SIFR follow-up study.

Harrison et al., 1994. Fish Farming in Africa: what's the Catch? Summary of ODA research project findings and recommendations

Lazard et al, 1991. Pisciculture en Afrique subsaharienne. Report of study of the situation of projects in francophone Africa.

2.3 Rethinking Objectives

It is unlikely that small-scale aquaculture will be a panacea for fundamental problems of protein shortage and undernutrition. This has been accepted by its promoters for some time (Ben Yami 1986). Not only are the poorest of the poor not in a position to adopt aquaculture, given its minimal requirements of labour and land, but there is no inevitability that the products of aquaculture will reach them. Purchasing power, marketing infrastructure and alternative sources of protein all intervene. On the other hand, there is a real potential for small-scale rural aquaculture to contribute to improved livelihoods for some farmers.

Policy makers thus face a dilemma. This dilemma reflects a need for clarity about objectives and the means by which they might be reached. Poverty focused objectives require that specific efforts are made to reach the poorest and most vulnerable people. However, it may often be the case that for these people fish farming may not be the best or even a possible option. The choice then appears stark: either to try to develop activities and approaches which reach the resource poorest, or to focus on technology development which may be viable in the long term, but which is unlikely to be closely related to food security - at least in the short term. As with many other technologies, those most likely and most able to become productive fish farmers are not the most needy. The greatest food security and/or income impacts often coincide with lower levels of production.

This dilemma is increasingly acknowledged: "The dual objectives of increasing the income of the fish farmer and improving nutritional well-being may be contradictory" (ALCOM 1994;21). It has implications in two important spheres. First, the issue of target group identification: is there a difference between those that that the promoters of aquaculture choose to work with, and those that they expect to benefit? Second, the establishment of appropriate indicators for monitoring and evaluation. If indicators such as aggregate production of fish or numbers of ponds dug are inappropriate, then what are the alternatives? Obviously, the success or failure of aquaculture development can only be assessed if adequate criteria are provided. But measurement of food security and livelihood enhancement benefits is not straightforward.

2.3.1 Target Group Identification

Target group identification has been addressed in a number of ways. A first step is often the creation of typologies of different kinds of aquaculture operation and aquaculturist. From these, decisions about whom to work with and how, may be expected to follow. A common trend is to characterize aquaculture operations according to degree of commercial orientation, with a focus on the greater development potential of those with slightly more resources and an entrepreneurial attitude. There is thus a stress on the efficiency of working with "model" farmers who show potential to intensify their operation, and to market an increasing proportion of their product.

This view is not held by all. For example, ICLARM scientists argue that "As resource poor farmers are the new target, and as exceedingly few of them culture fish, ways must be devised to gain new entrants into aquaculture rather than increase the fish production on the few existing farms." (Lightfoot and Pullin 1994; 9).

However, for many, intensification and consolidation of the activities of these model farmers is increasingly seen as the key to sustained fish farming. This is in marked contrast to an earlier orthodoxy that aquaculture is a technology to help improve the livelihoods of the poorest farmers and that as many of these as possible should be assisted in their fish fanning.

For example, Lazard et al. (1991) distinguish four types of aquaculture, based on the level of development. The findings are based on a study of francophone Africa:

1. Aquaculture for self-consumption ("family" based)

2. Artisanal aquaculture, producing for the market at a small-scale

3. Aquaculture where particular stages of the production process are taken on by different producers.

4. Industrial scale aquaculture

The first characterizes more than 95% of the ponds in the region. It is undertaken in earthen ponds by farmers for whom it is a marginal activity, poorly integrated into the rest of their farming. The authors argue that these kind of culture systems have on the whole had negative results. For the fish farmers, the satisfaction gained from small-scale fish farming is not sufficiently attractive to outweigh the effort and degree of technical expertise required. For the future, it is suggested that aid to this kind of aquaculture should concentrate on support to those farmers who show signs and capabilities of adopting more intensive methods.

Small scale market-oriented aquaculture, according to this characterization, involves only a few hundred people in Africa. They have generally learnt about fish farming from development projects, practice aquaculture in either rural or peri-urban environments, and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. For the majority, fish farming is not their only activity, but it may be a significant part of their business operations. In the rural setting, this form of aquaculture tends to be integrated with other agricultural activities, and is an important extra source of income.

The authors conclude that artisanal and small/medium scale market-oriented aquaculture has the most development potential. They stress the need for economic viability of aquaculture enterprises themselves, rather than reliance on development project inputs. They argue that for the present, aquaculture cannot be a possibility for all farmers. Target groups should be identified, not only according to expressed interest, but according to technical competence, and to the likely role of aquaculture within their other activities. Farmers should be encouraged to weigh the costs and benefits of undertaking aquaculture in comparison with these other activities. This approach, it is argued, is preferable to earlier ones of mass development, followed by natural selection.

The third type of aquaculture is characterized by a structural division of the different phases of production. Again, it may be undertaken by entrepreneurs in different locations. Industrial aquaculture has strictly financial objectives, and is undertaken on a large scale. The authors warn that there is a risk of competition between this level of aquaculture and the second, market-oriented, type.

A similar approach was developed in the context of the AQUILA II project for Latin America (AQUILA II 1994, Martinez-Espinosa 1994). Again, a basic distinction is made in terms of degree of commercial orientation of the operation. In this schema, the distinction is between aquaculture for the poorest ("type one"), and aquaculture for the less poor ("type two"). Type one is essentially subsistence-oriented aquaculture. Farmers consume most of what they produce at home. Type two is characterized by a higher level of basic resource-ownership of the producer, and an entrepreneurial approach which involves a degree of cost-benefit analysis. It is argued that in the current context of reduced state intervention, it is more sensible for development support to be concentrated on type two aquaculture.

On the basis of these considerations, the AQUILA II project undertook a study of the feasibility of type two aquaculture in two locations in Colombia and Venezuela. The greatest problem identified was that of creating an environment conducive to the participation of both public and private institutions in the development of the sector. It is suggested that in Latin America, there are good prospects for undertaking aquaculture in associations of producers rather that at an individual, subsistence, level.

The typologies of different target groups discussed above are recognized by their authors to be only approximate: delineating boundaries is difficult. As noted in the introduction, aquaculturists form a continuum with varying degrees of commercial orientation. A strict dichotomy between "subsistence" and "commercial" operations is therefore inappropriate. Purely subsistence farmers do not exist. The balance between the elements of production which are consumed within the household and those which are sold or exchanged, is constantly changing. With increasing intensification, farmers are likely to market all or some of the product. What is important is not "commercial" or "subsistence", but issues arising from the degree and form of commercialization. For example, how does increased commercial orientation change control over resources and spending patterns within the household? Does increased commercialization of one aspect of productive activities result in changes elsewhere? What are the linkages to other parts of the economy?

The ALCOM programme has also been concerned with target group identification and the relevance of different approaches to particular contexts. For example, in a study conducted for the project in Luapula Province Zambia (Wijkstrom 1991), a distinction is made between aquaculture development priorities in stagnant and in growing economies. Development actions must be sensitive to the economic context. It is argued that in stagnant economies, where farmers are poor and underemployed and have access to more land and water than they can use, their contribution to economic growth is greater, per kg of fish produced, than in economies which are growing and have competition for resources. Thus, the poorer the household of the underemployed farmer, the larger is the justification for spending government funds on introducing fish farming to him or her. A successful fish farmer is defined as one who is exploiting his or her ponds. However, it was found that no simple procedure can be used for identifying in advance what will make him or her successful

The author argues that the status of the agricultural economy should influence the nature of intervention. In stagnating economies, the aim is to stimulate interest in fish culture, to help the farmers with essential basic information such as how to construct ponds which hold water, but not to aim on a permanent extension activity for as long as the economy remains stagnant. As long as there are farmers with the minimal resources required, they should be encouraged to grow fish. In areas with a growing economy, it is recommended that efforts concentrate on increasing the productivity of existing fish farmers. Means of doing this include the encouragement of commercial fingerling supply, working through agricultural extensionists, and developing government fish farms for research, development and training.

Comparative studies in Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi (Harrison et al. 1994) support certain aspects of these findings. The economic context for the development of aquaculture is likely to influence levels of production and management subsequent to adoption. However, in an environment with perceived abundance of the resources required to adopt aquaculture, and a shortage of other economic activities (such as Luapula Province, Zambia), adoption may not follow a strict cost-benefit analysis. Farmers may be more likely to ask "why not?" rather than "why?", and their decisions are based on a diverse range of influences. Management levels may then reflect a lack of knowledge of the requirements of the technology. The presence of diverse economic opportunities, effective marketing channels and perceived scarcities makes it more likely that the adoption of fish farming will be weighed more carefully. Management levels and productivity then reflect a greater knowledge of the risks and likely gains of the adoption of aquaculture.

The implication of these findings for target group identification, and the siting of support to aquaculture development is that where the aim of support to fish farming is the establishment of autonomous knowledge, certain factors are likely to be influential. First, population density and the availability of land. Where farmers are relatively close to each other and ponds are closer to houses, the prospects for sustainability are higher. In addition, if there is greater perceived scarcity of land, it is more likely that the decision to dig a pond will be based on a sound assessment of costs and benefits. Second, and relatedly, if there are well developed marketing opportunities and infrastructure, there are better chances that the efforts of fish farming promoters will survive after their departure.

The decision to support a specific target group, such as established entrepreneurs, accompanies particular assumptions about the reasons for aquaculture development, who the ultimate beneficiaries will be, and the nature of the processes which give rise to the benefits. If a limited number of slightly better off farmers are supported for reasons of increased productivity, there is usually an assumption that knowledge and motivations established among such farmers will trickle down to others. This assumption clearly needs to be examined. If greater availability of fish for the malnourished is the aim, then focussing on model farmers may be irrelevant to the poorest people who cannot afford to buy fish anyway.

Equally, there is a possibility that not only will the slightly rich get slightly richer, but there may be a cost which is borne by others (Harrison 1994). Where aquaculture development is accompanied by increased social differentiation, there may be disguised costs for the most vulnerable. For example, the value of land or productive resources may increase, while access becomes more competitive. Negative environmental effects are as likely to harm non-aquaculturists as aquaculturists. Aquaculture, as with other new technologies is also likely to have a significant effect on labour relations and the value of labour. This occurs both within and between households. Of particular concern is the extent to which aquaculture, which is predominantly adopted by men, results in increased labour burdens for women and children without corresponding benefits (Trottier 1987, Harrison 1994, Woodford Berger 1987). There is a need to supplement cost-benefit analysis with attempts to reveal the less visible aspects of change.

The evidence from Africa is limited, but indications are that at the level at which it is currently practiced, aquaculture has not had serious negative effects for non-adopters or for members of aquaculturists' families. Where aquaculture has taken root, effects have generally been positive (Harrison et al. 1994). However, there is still much more work to be done to establish the wider validity of this conclusion. Evidence from Asia indicates a need for caution. For example, in Java, brackish water pond cultivation has led to an increase in socio-economic differentiation. Smallholders who were only tenants rather than land owners were worst affected (Hannig 1988). In Bangladesh, the promotion of shrimp culture in paddy fields has been economically successful, but has generated an income distribution favouring those controlling the most scarce resource - land. Costs are borne by those who are not the main beneficiaries of the development (de Campos Guimaraes 1989).

Most information indicates that, regardless of promoters' attempts at targetting, the majority of adopters of aquaculture have certain characteristics in common; they are more likely to be men, better off and better educated. This is the case with many new technologies. It reflects both resource availability, the ability to access extension services, and the attitudes which often accompany these characteristics. Measures taken to explicitly avoid this situation (such as providing direct assistance to the resource poorest) could involve targeting aquaculture to those people for whom it may well not be the best option. Demaine et al.. (1994) concluded for the AIT Aquaculture Outreach Project in Northeast Thailand that "Until access to ponds improves or until these can make a bigger all round contribution to the rural household livelihoods, perhaps through a more integrated farming approach around the pond, the project may have to resign itself to working with the rural middle class" (Demaine et al. 1994).

Aquaculture in groups

With aquaculture, as most development interventions, the advantages and disadvantages of supporting formal groups are regularly debated. On the one hand, it is felt that for some people, most notably women, groups provide an opportunity to overcome the constraints they face as individuals. On the other hand, these groups may become dominated by an elite and are often beset by disputes over control of funds. Success or failure of group approaches to aquaculture arise from the motivations which induce groups to form. Problems invariably arise when formal groups are created in expectation of assistance such as loans or grants.

In Luapula Province, Zambia, a women's and a youth's fish fanning group existed mainly as conduits for passing loans and grants. Very few fish were produced. In the "youth" group, acrimonious debate raged over the destination of the grants (Harrison 1993a). In the Lake Basin area, of Kenya, "women groups" are a popular form of organization. Many of these groups have been established for as much as 20 years. Success or failure is directly correlated with the degree to which the primary motivation for formation was income generation or grant acquisition Harrison (1993b). Most women who have received training from an FAO supported project have done so as part of a women's group. Fish farming is usually one among a range of other activities undertaken by the group.

On balance though, the evidence suggests that group-based aquaculture in Africa has not been a great success (Mashapa and Matobo 1988, L'Heureux et al. 1990, Murnyak 1988). Grover et al. (1980) suggested that communal management practices cannot be sustained because of a lack of incentives, and because of disputes over rights to the harvest.

Issues of relevance to the success of attempts to introduce collectively managed aquaculture include the existence of past successful collective activity. Local leadership, management ability and the strength of local services were found to be important in the context of cooperatively managed fish ponds in Panama (Schwartz et al. 1988). In both Latin America and Africa, there are locally specific examples of cooperation and reciprocation, especially between kin. Kinship relations play a particularly important role in determining rights and responsibilities with regard to labour. Problems are more likely to arise when attempts to organize aquaculture in groups do not take into account these pre-existing networks. Rights to land are also important. In the same way that introducing private property rights into a collectively oriented system can cause friction, attempting to develop collective aquaculture on land with individual ownership is likely to increase uncertainty over the distribution of benefits.

2.3.2 Monitoring and Evaluation

Establishing clear objectives and appropriate target groups is closely associated with the definition of indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of aquaculture development activities. It is widely recognized that statistics documenting tons of fish produced or numbers of fish farmers are of limited value. There are problems in the quality and the validity of the data, and their relationship to wider objectives such as strengthened rural livelihoods is unclear. They say nothing about the disguised impacts of change. Nonetheless, there remains a need to find some way of assessing the value of development efforts. Those with responsibility for spending public money need to know that they are choosing the best option. This continues to present difficulties.

The problem of finding relevant and measurable indicators of project success and failure has arisen in numerous aquaculture projects, as in many other areas of rural development. In many aquaculture development projects in the past, where quantifiable goals were specified, two fundamental weaknesses appeared. First, the expected increases in yields and tons of fish produced tended to be over-optimistic. Objectives were then subsequently modified. Second, attention was seldom given to how such targets were related to broader nutritional or food security objectives. A common response was to set up ever-more sophisticated data bases. These were limited not only by the quality of the information entered (which was circumscribed by the capacity of the extension service to function as data collectors), but by sustainability on departure of donor assistance.

Nonetheless, a number of experts suggest that aquaculture data bases are an essential requisite to planning. Coche et al. (1994) argue that the quantification of the goals of a National Aquaculture Development Plan should be based on a good data base which provides a fairly accurate picture of natural and technical resources as well as a profile of social, economic and political aspects of the environment. These should be updated annually. The authors concede that collection of aquaculture data is problematic, especially in countries where extensive forms of aquaculture predominate. They point out that only two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Malawi and Nigeria) have a functional national statistical system.

Recently however, there has been a growing awareness of the need to combine quantitative indicators of success with more qualitative measures. These are often achieved with the use of participatory research techniques.

The ALCOM programme is innovative in a number of ways regarding indicators of success and failure in aquaculture development. It aims to explore the less visible aspects of aquaculture development (for example, by conducting studies on gender issues - Mbozi 1991). It also does not have any definite production targets. Instead impact is measured according to the adoption of methods, techniques and approaches by institutions and private individuals. Perhaps inevitably, the programme has been criticized for having little evidence of the production of fish.

ALCOM has repeatedly stressed that it is not a classic production-oriented development project. However, the overall (development) objective implies production: " increase in cash income and/or animal protein component in the diet of rural communities, achieved through increased production of fish from small-scale aquaculture integrated with mixed farming systems or as a complement or alternative to traditional small-scale fishing".

It is thus fairly easy for critics to claim that the causal link between the adoption of methods and the achievement of objectives is not proven.

ICLARM, both in Africa, and in Asia, has also been concerned with establishing appropriate indicators of success and failure in aquaculture development. In this case, the emphasis is on ascertaining the role of the fish pond within the farming system as a whole. Rather than concentrate on production of fish as such, ICLARM scientists stress the way that integrated resource management (including fish farming) can strengthen the overall system. Thus, the role of the pond as a source of irrigation or as a place to grow rice, may be equally important.

Studies have been conducted with farmers, using participatory methods, in order to find ways to evaluate integrated management. It is argued that any evaluation or monitoring programme will require full participation by the farmers in its design if it is to be effective (Lightfoot and Noble 1993). Farmers model their own farming systems and update them on a regular basis using a plan map of the farm. Resource flows are monitored and measured, initially in local terms, but later converted into estimates of (for example) kilos. In addition to information for researchers, it is argued that this approach also provides farmers with a tool for improving their decision making and skills in resource management. Four indicators have been suggested to evaluate both sustainability and economic performance. These are: species diversity, bioresource recycling, productive capacity of the natural resource base and economic efficiency (profit:cost ratios).

ICLARM scientists maintain that this approach to evaluation has the advantage that it also captures less easily quantified flows such as increased social linkages and reciprocation.

These indicators give important information at the level of the household. However, they would always need to be supplemented by further information in two other dimensions: the effects of fish farming adoption within the household, and the wider effects in the community. It is noted that establishing wider farmer participation requires effective linkages between government and non-government organizations, and a consideration of the political context. For example, the ICLARM work with farmers in Malawi covered only a very few selected people. There was not close work with the existing extension or an attempt to establish the results on a wider scale.

The AIT Aquaculture Outreach Project has as its key indicator of project success, the adoption and retention of project recommendations (Demaine et al. 1994). A baseline study of adopting farmers was conducted, and subsequent surveys carried out to monitor their progress. Although the adoption of technologies themselves is held to be important, of greater significance is the adoption of the principles behind them. For example, in achieving the principle of making the water green, farmers may use other combinations of resources than those recommended.

Lazard et al. (1991) also argue that project evaluations should privilege qualitative over quantitative criteria. The consolidation of aquaculture within overall rural development and viability after the departure of projects are more important than tons produced or numbers of producers. They argue that traditional measures of success such as internal rate of return, economic viability for the state and cost per kg of fish produced, should all be reconsidered. They add that evaluations are frequently constrained by the fact that they do not take full account of the diverse stakeholders involved in the project. If the evaluators are outsiders, they do not have an adequate understanding of the project context. If they are insiders, a biased picture may be presented. Therefore, evaluations should always comprise a combination of both outsiders and insiders in order to produce a balanced picture.

From the above, it is clear that different perspectives on monitoring and evaluation and on appropriate indicators, address varied objectives. These require clarification. Measuring the achievement of national objectives for aquaculture development is not the same as measuring project success or failure, which in turn is not necessarily the same as evaluating whether aquaculture itself is working. Even this is not synonymous with aquaculture as a means towards rural development.

There are overlapping elements in each - establishing fish fanning in rural communities independent of outside assistance is the most obvious. To a large extent, this can be measured through qualitative evidence of well-maintained ponds and quantitative data on factors such as the marketing of cultured fish and farmer-farmer supply of fingerlings. Examination of the less visible aspects of change requires participatory and qualitative studies (Harrison et al. 1994). These should identify likely positive and negative factors (eg. evidence of changing land values or changing availability of resources with alternative uses). Follow-up work would then be targeted to locally relevant issues.

The success or failure of aquaculture development projects and national plans are not only assessed by evidence of how people are farming fish. They also have objectives concerning institutional sustainability and the ability to provide certain inputs. Indicators of the achievement of such objectives include the existence of a functioning extension service and appropriate training. The institutional context for aquaculture development is the subject of the next section.

2.4 The Institutional Context

A key finding of the Thematic Evaluation of Aquaculture had been that projects were frequently hampered by a lack of government commitment and capacity. This was particularly acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the problem was also evident elsewhere. As a result it was suggested that detailed attention should be given to the recipient government's effective commitment to aquaculture.

Since then, there has been increasing recognition that focusing on the needs, motivations and constraints of the farmers in isolation is inadequate. It is equally important to take into account the institutional context. This includes the role and capacity of both government organizations and the private sector. The government context includes government authorities, research organizations and parastatals. The private sector includes non government organizations (national and international), farmers' organizations, private companies, and private producers.

The relationship between external donor and host institutions (usually government) is critical to the functioning of any development project. In the case of aquaculture, divergent expectations of the reasons for, and the means to achieve, aquaculture development often constrain projects (Harrison et al. 1994). The divergence occurs both in the higher echelons of planning and at the level of project implementation.

Harrison et al. (1994) argue that donor priorities are influenced by the need for accountability at home and the timely disbursement of funds. Issues which may appear important to donor organizations, such as careful beneficiary targeting or sensitivity to gender may appear less relevant to those who implement the project, whether expatriate advisers or local government personnel. Host governments may respond to opportunities for donor-funding and foreign exchange without the capacity to continue support. In turn, donors commit funding despite managerial and institutional weaknesses. Each stakeholder in the development process negotiates a position in relation to their own priorities.

This conclusion is supported by several recent studies. For example, Lazard et al. (1991), note that most current aquaculture development plans still reflect opportunism rather than any long term plan for the future. The authors suggest that diverse influences conspire to make projects overlook economic and political realities, both in their conception and in their implementation.

In the SIFR follow-up study (Coche et al. 1994), it is noted that the aquaculture sector generally receives very low priority from governments - a problem shared with the agriculture sector in general. A consequence of this low priority is a lack of development funds and a heavy reliance on external funding... "Such dependence implies that programmes and projects are often based on the priorities of donor agencies rather than on sectoral priorities as identified by national authorities." (Coche et al. 1994; 33)

In addition, in Sub-Saharan Africa the stability of the institutional framework has generally been poor. Administrative reorganizations have led to responsibility for aquaculture development changing from one ministry to another every few years. Furthermore, a tendency for countries to have more than one government department responsible for aquaculture development has led to confusion and sometimes competition for resources. Accompanying this is a lack of coordination between aquaculture development activities, so that responsibilities are dispersed and numerous conflicts arise. Even in places where there are national aquaculture development plans, these appear more as a catalogue of projects than coordinated and integrated programmes, linked to well defined policies.

These problems contribute to a conclusion which is strongly reminiscent of the Thematic Evaluation. Of 31 projects evaluated in the SIFR follow-up for Africa, almost half were judged to have had bad to limited sustainability. "The major reason for failures lies in the impossibility for the public administration to take over financial responsibilities after the foreign financial assistance has left" (Coche et al. 1994; 37)

The SIFR follow-up study for Latin America (AQUILA II 1994) found that of twenty countries studied, only four (Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Mexico) have a national plan for aquaculture development which is different from general fisheries policy papers. The relationship between research and production is frequently established without a central control by the administration. For extensive rural aquaculture, it is argued that because the most favourable prospects lie with small associations of producers, minimal government financing is entailed. On the other hand, governments will continue to have an important responsibility for creating the conditions favourable for the development of rural microeconomies.

The study notes that the region has no training courses for extensionists.

The ALCOM project has also stressed the key role of the institutional context in support to aquaculture development. The Working Group on the Future of ALCOM identified four priority areas for support to aquaculture development over the next ten years. One of these was "strengthening of aquaculture institutions" (ALCOM 1994; 24). Two assumptions guide the strategy: first that government institutions will, for the foreseeable future, work with limited resources; second, that increased collaboration between governments, NGOs and the private sector is the best way to use scarce resources.

Accordingly, a number of ways of strengthening institutions are outlined. There is a need to train senior government officers in aspects of planning in order for countries to produce comprehensive sectoral development plans, and to be competent in project formulation and management. Support for better documentation and information facilities is needed, as is action to strengthen research. Importantly, the Programme stresses the need to improve the delivery of extension methods and institutional support. Extension services are usually poorly resourced and extensionists limited in their capacity to do their jobs. They need skills in development support beside technical competence and thus require further training. In addition, it is suggested that collaboration between government authorities (such as fisheries and agriculture) could extend extension coverage and impact. Lastly, the private sector should be stimulated to take up extension functions. These points are elaborated below.

2.4.1 The Provision of Inputs

Since the Thematic Evaluation of aquaculture, the accepted view of the appropriate role of aquaculture promoters has changed. In common with many development interventions, the search for sustainability has led to a change in focus: from the provision of tangible inputs to capacity building. Many fish fanning development projects had worked with the assumption that the government or project has a responsibility to provide certain inputs. Most frequently this referred to fingerlings - produced and distributed by the government. It also extended to pond inputs, feeds, tools, and credit. The long term viability of the provision of certain sorts of inputs, particularly those which can be construed as incentives, is increasingly questioned.


Regarding fingerlings, the cost of constructing and maintaining the required facilities (hatcheries, transport) is considered to be prohibitive. The evidence of partially or non-functioning government fish farming stations in Africa and Latin America is testament to the weakness of the strategy (Coche et al. 1994). It is also now recognized that such an approach inhibits farmer-farmer supply and creates dependency.

Harrison et al. (1994) found that in Luapula Province, Zambia, the government attempts to supply fingerlings from two government fish farms. It is impossible to meet expressed demand because of technical difficulties at the government farms and a lack of transport. Farmers believe they should be supplied with subsidized fingerlings, which inhibits the development of a private market. Similarly, in the Central African Republic, the fact that people were used to free goods was cited as an important reason for people giving up fish farming (Moehl 1989). These findings have led to a search for more sustainable ways of ensuring fingerling supply (see below)


The appropriacy and necessity of the provision of credit for small-scale rural aquaculture development is widely debated. Lack of access to capital has been cited as a serious constraint for potential adopters (Librero 1987, Drewes 1988, Mashapa and Motobo 1988). However, by its nature, small-scale aquaculture requires inputs which are generally available on-farm. The need for credit is therefore minimal in most cases.

Credit may be useful to assist particular categories of producers faced with particular constraints (such as pond construction for women farmers). It may also play a role in increasing production inputs among farmers with an established knowledge base and guaranteed marketing opportunities. However, Harrison et al. (1994) argue for caution in embarking on credit programmes. Not only are there numerous practical problems in implementation, but credit can easily become a tool to be manipulated by those who have least need of it.

For example, in Luapula Province, Zambia, very few farmers receive credit for fish fanning. Those that do are larger scale farmers who have used the money for pond construction and then run into serious repayment problems following technical difficulties. When a number of small-scale farmers applied for loans to expand their pond area, ability to repay was completely unrelated to the size of the loan. Demands for loans are prevalent because a combination of low real interest rates and a history of non-repayment make loans more like grants in the view of farmers. At the same time, loan acquisition procedures are sufficiently complicated to ensure that only the slighter better educated (and also better-off) apply.

On the other hand, there may be situations where properly organized credit schemes fulfill a useful function. For example, in Western Kenya, some fish farmers face problems in access to feeds. A credit scheme designed for pond construction was modified to meet this need (see box 3 on next page).

There are two key points often overlooked in credit schemes for small-scale fish farming. First, those taking advantage of the loans and training should be those who manage the ponds. This is often overlooked in gender-blind planning. In many cases the wives of male pond owners do the bulk of pond management, but less frequently benefit from loans or training opportunities. Second, beneficiaries from schemes are mainly those who are adept at claiming resources rather than those who need the inputs. Provision should be made to assess both capability and need.

Box 3: Credit Scheme in the Lake Basin Area, Kenya

The FAO supported project "Development of Fish Farming in the Lake Basin Area, Kenya" has introduced a credit scheme. The project has been running in various phases since 1982. In earlier years the scheme was unsuccessful. Cash was given for inputs which were not forthcoming, loans were not repaid, large amounts of money and time were spent on only a few credit farmers.

A revitalized scheme now focuses on credit in kind. No cash is given. Loans enable farmers to buy fingerlings from the fry production centers and feeds such as rice and wheat bran from local stockists in order to increase productivity. Interest is charged at 18% with a 10% charge for overheads. It is charged from the day of first stocking and first repayments are expected eight months from stocking.

There is a minimum requirement that credit farmers should have existing ponds of at least 300m2. They are selected by extensionists. The prospects for the scheme generally seem good, because many of the pitfalls of earlier approaches have been overcome. It has a wide impact, and farmers are not given a false cash incentive to join.

There are, however, a number of reasons for caution.

* A drive to enlist as many credit recipients as possible has led to the recruitment of some farmers who have inadequate ponds (size and quality) and knowledge level. Furthermore, their conception of interest repayment and obligations is sketchy.

* Little attention has been given to the needs of those receiving credit. As a result, in some areas, farmers with an unusually high socio-economic status (retired civil servants etc.) have been enlisted. There is a possibility that ordinary farmers will feel the example is simply not relevant to them. As an aspect of me scheme is that credit recipients should now be the focus of extension visits, in addition to credit funds being possibly misplaced, scarce extension capability may be disproportionately directed to those who may need it less.

Coche et al. (1994) note that the need for credit for small-scale farmers was ranked very high in national studies. They point out though, that on the basis of numerous negative experiences in the past, it is unlikely that the commercial banking community will be prepared to provide small-scale credit in the near future.

2.4.2 The Role of the Private Sector

Reduction in official provision of inputs and services and an increased role for the private sector are obviously two sides of the same coin. Privatization of as much of the production process as possible is a central theme in most recent writing on small-scale aquaculture development.

For example, with fingerling supply, attempts are now being made to increase the knowledge and capacity of private fingerling producers. In many places, farmer knowledge of techniques of fry production is limited, resulting in gradual reductions in the quality of fingerlings produced. Development of farmer-farmer fingerling supply therefore requires an improvement and consolidation of this knowledge. Examples exist in Madagascar and Kenya (see box 4 and 5), where the aim is that, through training farmers, these can eventually overcome shortages of extension.

Box 4: Privatization of Fingerling Production in Madagascar

In Madagascar, a UNDP/FAO project, in collaboration with the government, is helping to set up private fingerling producers. This has a knock-on effect of privatizing extension in many rural areas.

Private fingerling producers are identified and trained by the project. They are supplied with technical advice. Extension and marketing tools such as pamphlets and technical posters are available to fingerling producers at cost Other needs such as nets and tools are purchased through a credit scheme in collaboration with a local bank.

Because the possession of a suitable site is an important criterion, this tends to favour larger farmers. However, the farmers are spread widely: in order to minimize competition a minimum distance of 20 km is set between one fingerling producer and the next.

By mid 1993, the project had over 90 private fingerling producers with a total of about 20,000 customers.

It is suggested that the effective privatization of the extension service allows the Department; of Fisheries to focus on neglected issues such as staff training, broodstock selection, and applied research.

Source: Jensen et al. 1994

Box 5: Approaches to Fingerling Supply in the Lake Basin Area

In the Lake Basin Area of Kenya, the government and FAO/UNDP project have in the past attempted to supply subsidized fingerlings to all farmers with limited success. Both production of fingerlings and distribution were inadequate and costly. The Lake Basin project is now making a serious attempt to move away from this approach to fingerling supply.

There has been a change in direction with support and encouragement to the private sector. Farmers have been trained in fingerling production and supplied with nets and fish cans at the same loan conditions as other credit farmers. It is intended mat fry production centers (FPCs) will remain a source of genetically sound tilapia for distribution to private fingerling producers.

As demand for tilapia fingerlings from the fry production centers is reducing, emphasis has changed to the production of catfish fingerlings. It is intended that sales of these should ensure me economic viability of the FPCs.

Source: Harrison 1993b

The Working Group on the Future of ALCOM (ALCOM 1994), also stresses the potential of the stimulation of the private sector to take up extension functions. It is argued that producers of fingerlings, feed and fertilizers could undertake extension as part of their marketing strategies. Coche et al. (1994) found that among the important development priorities for Sub-Saharan African aquaculture, privatization of fingerling production, was rated very highly: "It becomes more and more evident that the best chances of success lie in the development of a private sector, economically sound and technically independent from government support for most of its regular needs" (Coche et al. 1994,50)

Lazard et al. (1991), however, advise caution in the approach taken to privatization. Privatization is not a simple solution because the private sector is made up of a diverse range of individuals and associations with different motivations and potentials. As they point out, nearly all fish farmers are already private operators. The outcome of the reduction of state functions will depend not only on the viability of existing production systems, but on the nature of the operators who undertake activities previously under government control. For example, the new entrepreneurs are often ex-civil servants and politicians. This may have the advantage of raising the political profile of fish farming but may bear little relationship to initial objectives of aquaculture promotion such as improved food security. Nonetheless, the authors conclude that some form of privatization is necessary, in order to strengthen the economic base.

An alternative to the support of private individuals is that of working with NGOs. This term covers a wide variety of organizations, from local small-scale associations of producers, to large international donors such as OXFAM. This option is held to be particularly promising for Latin America (AQUILA II 1994a). It has been argued (e.g. Fowler 1988) that NGO intervention may be more effective than that of states because of their closer relations with the local people, and their more flexible structure and functioning. However, this comparative advantage is only potential. In practice, many NGOs fail to achieve the participation and flexibility promised. They may be constrained by government authorities by financial and infrastructural difficulties, or may become dominated by elites, and fail to ensure the full participation of intended beneficiaries (Harrison 1994).

2.5 Aquaculture as Farming

The Thematic Evaluation had noted that, given institutional weaknesses, there was a potential for an increasing amount of extension for aquaculture to take place via agricultural extension. Since then, a growing awareness of the closer association of small-scale aquaculture with farming than with fishing has led to widespread calls for institutional recognition of the fact.

In anglophone Africa extension services for aquaculture are mostly located within Fisheries Departments, within Agricultural or Natural Resources Ministries. In francophone areas, they are most often under Ministères des Eaux et Forêts. Such extension services are usually specialized and restricted to aquaculture. Any cooperation with agricultural extension is ad hoc, Zimbabwe being a notable exception. In Latin America, a similar situation prevails. According to a 1989 report, only in Panama are aquaculture specialists made available to the agricultural extensionists who often have more operational resources with which to reach the farmers (Noriega Curtis et al. 1989). This institutional arrangement is thought to be the reason why small-scale rural aquaculture in Panama has been far more successful than in most other countries in the region.

Extension services were mainly created during the 1970s with the assistance of technical assistance projects. They were seldom adequately resourced in terms of either personnel or operating facilities. During the 1980s, especially with the influence of structural adjustment programmes, this situation has become much worse. Although agricultural extension services also suffer from weaknesses in terms of personnel and operating facilities, they are generally much better resourced than those for aquaculture. As fish cultured by small-scale farmers should be seen as one crop among many, it makes sense for extensionists to be able to advise farmers within the context of all of their other activities.

Variations of this suggestion are evident in most recent literature. COPESCAL (1991) note that one of the major limitations for Latin American aquaculture development is the idea that it is an isolated activity, not integrated to agriculture and to rural development as a whole. It is argued that, as aquaculture is physically integrated with other farming activities... "one would hope that at an institutional level there would also be mechanisms for making this integration possible" (COPESCAL 1991; 7).

Lazard et al. (1991), conclude that because fish farming is a productive agricultural activity, it is less appropriate for it to be placed within an institutional context of natural resource management.

Coche et al. (1994) also state that there is a need to integrate the functions of the specialized aquaculture extension service into the agricultural extension service, to be supported by a few aquaculture specialists. They argue that such integration offers several advantages: agricultural extension is usually nationwide and well-known by farmer, it has common interests with fish farming in terms of livestock, feed ingredients sources and use, and target groups are common. Obviously successful integration rests not only on the operational effectiveness of agricultural extension, but on the ability of different departments to cooperate.

The ALCOM programme has come to similar conclusions, and begun to put them into practice. The limited likelihood of expansion of aquaculture institutions means that they need to find ways to increase their impact with limited resources... "The attempt to engage agriculture extension systems in aquaculture is one such step" (ALCOM 1994; 7).

Box 6: New Approaches to Aquaculture Extension in Zambia

ALCOM, recognizing the poor prospects of operating an extension service specifically for aquaculture, has found alternative approaches in both Zambia and Mozambique.

In Zambia, resources for agricultural extension are much more widespread man they are for aquaculture. In addition, most aquaculture is practiced as an addition to farming rather than a part of fishing activities.

In Zambia, the National Extension Action Plan is supported by a World Bank supported project, Zambia Agricultural Research and Extension Project (ZAREP). The Bank explicitly recommended that aquaculture be covered within ZAREP as a specialized crop, and has supported the ALCOM pilot project in this respect

The aim is that fish farming specialists are assigned to the agriculture extension system, strengthening and consolidating knowledge.

There are constraints. These are mainly institutional. Problems of overworked and underpaid field staff still persist, and collaboration between departments is uneven. Resources for extension at me field level are remain limited

The integration of agricultural and aquacultural extension is unlikely to be appropriate in all contexts, and the form it will take depends on a range of considerations, from the type of aquaculture practiced, to the existing institutional context. Pressure from donors for such integration is also likely to encounter resistance at some levels. In an economic climate in which different government departments find themselves competing for scarce funds, it is in the interest of officers in fisheries departments to maintain a separate aquaculture extension service, requiring a separate financing. Reformulation of institutional arrangements in the context of repeatedly cut budgets may be perceived as yet another way of reducing these budgets, and therefore resisted. Recognition of the vital role of fish culture specialists as expert advisers to agricultural extensionists is one way of building collaboration.

For international donors too, questions are being asked about the institutional place of small-scale rural aquaculture. Suggestions for institutional changes at the country level have a range of possible implications. Support for aquaculture has always been based within Fisheries Departments. This clearly makes sense for many kinds of aquacultural production, particularly coastal and industrial scale aquaculture. However, for small-scale rural aquaculture, expertise in technical aspects of fisheries is only one necessary factor for effective promotion. Knowledge of wider issues in rural development is also vital. For practical reasons, it is unlikely that responsibility for rural aquaculture will be substantially shifted. Apart from anything else, the problems of defining rural aquaculture and trying to delineate this from other forms would persist. However, recognition of the place of small-scale rural aquaculture within rural development should lead to more effective collaboration between fisheries and other relevant departments.

2.6 Research and Development Linkages

SIFR and its follow-up studies has made an important contribution to understanding research capabilities and priorities in small-scale rural aquaculture. However, concern has been expressed both within SIFR and elsewhere that the relationship between research and development activities needs much more elaboration than has taken place so far. There remains a tendency for researchers to concentrate on their technical specialization, regardless of its appropriacy or relevance or development needs. Furthermore, past research is not adequately taken into account when defining research programmes for the future. The wheel is reinvented.

In the SIFR follow-up study for Sub-Saharan Africa (Coche et al. 1994), a principal finding was that there is a definite need for improving the coordination between research and development, as well as a better system for using research as a support for development. In most countries the collaboration between aquaculture research and development sectors could be much stronger. Furthermore, only a limited number of the constraints to small-scale rural aquaculture development can be resolved through research. The major identified constraints which could be alleviated with research are:

· A lack of reliable production statistics;
· Sound economic data for private entrepreneurs
· Village socio-economics poorly understood
· Lack of juvenile fish for pond restocking.
· Broodstock degeneration
· Indigenous species not well known
· Good-growing indigenous species not available

According to the authors, all other identified constraints cannot be alleviated by research. Clearly, even the alleviation of the above constraints requires that research takes place in an institutional context which is supportive.

Main development priorities are principally of a non-technical nature. They relate to public administration, education and training, socio-economics, infrastructure, extension, and private sector development. However, major identified research priorities are biotechnological in nature. Coche et al. suggest that additional research priorities could be considered for example, information for credit.

Lazard et al. (1991) also argue that in Africa, the bulk of research carried out is not directly related to development activities. Part of the blame is attributed to the fact that researchers want to do "fundamental" research from which they will gain scientific recognition, rather than applied research. They add that there are pressures for development organizations to get their projects underway without undue delay for the collection of data, whether socio-economic, or bio-technical.

One option for improving the effectiveness and relevance of research is to adopt new approaches which have gained currency in other aspects of rural development. These are the subject of the concluding section, below.


3.1 Technical Breakthroughs: GIS
3.2 The Idea of Participation
3.3 Concluding Comments

3.1 Technical Breakthroughs: GIS

Geographical information systems (GIS) technology has recently been adapted to assess the potential for aquaculture development. A GIS is a computerized way of storing, manipulating and analyzing data. In the case of aquaculture, the potential of a particular area can be assessed according to a number of different criteria. These include the availability of surface water, the suitability of the topography for pond construction, the suitability of soil texture, the appropriate temperature, the availability of agricultural by-products, infrastructure and marketing potential.

The FAO has carried out a study of the potential for warm water aquaculture in Africa (Kapetsky 1994). A detailed study of potential in Ghana has been followed by an assessment of potential throughout the continent, and the compilation of a data base of about 1,000 small water bodies. The idea is to compare potential with actual performance, in order to be able to focus assistance on areas which are not living up to expectations. Early results indicate that there are 29 countries in Africa with suitable to optimum conditions for fish farming.

GIS has a potential for simplifying planning and decision making for aquaculture. A large number of variables can be stored and analyzed using one system. However, potential for aquaculture development is obviously determined by a much wider range of criteria than currently manipulated through GIS. Although, economic and marketing criteria are considered, the political and administrative contexts are currently not part of the analysis. The usefulness of GIS is therefore limited by the extent to which these factors intervene in the process of aquaculture development.

3.2 The Idea of Participation

While most experts promoting aquaculture have a well-developed knowledge about the influence of technical constraints such as the role of water supply, soil quality or fish diseases, there is still ignorance about a range of social and economic factors. The gap has been partially filled by the kind of research described in part two, above. However, there is still a need for better understanding of the communities into which small-scale rural aquaculture is introduced. At the same time, doubts have arisen about the value and usefulness of conventional questionnaire survey approaches to research. Not only is the data collected often of dubious value, but a failure to involve local people in the establishment of agendas has been criticized.

In other aspects of rural development a response to these concerns has been the development of participatory approaches to both research and intervention. Since at least the early eighties, top-down approaches have been criticized for their refusal to see all stakeholders as active participants in development. Technologies are developed in isolation from those who are expected to benefit from them and are imposed from outside without due consideration of existing knowledge and practices. The response has taken various forms, but broadly has become known as "farmer first". The justification for the shift is both moral and instrumental. People should be able to define their own objectives and agendas and development projects are likely to be more sustainable and effective: "With farmer first, the main objective is not to transfer known technology, but to empower farmers to learn, to adapt and to do better; analysis is not by outsiders - but by farmers and by farmers assisted by outsiders" (Chambers 1989; 182)

The moral aspect of the shift involves a call for "reversals" - in attitudes, in professionalism, and in the top-down biases of development practice. It reflects a disenchantment with conventional approaches to development which had clearly failed in their major goal - the alleviation of poverty. Thus in order to introduce any significant change in the way development takes place, the behaviour and attitudes of outsiders have to change significantly.

The instrumental aspect has involved a search for ways to make development more effective. This has included the development of a diverse range of approaches. Some of the most popular are agroecosystem analysis (AEA), farmer participatory research (FPR), participatory action research (PAR), fanning systems research (FSR), rapid rural appraisal (RRA) and participatory rural appraisal (PRA). The diversity disguises a number of similarities in the mechanics of data collection and information exchange (the methods). These similarities are in turn not necessarily closely related to the rationales and approaches behind data collection (the methodologies). Some examples are discussed below in relation to aquaculture development.

FSR sees the farm as an integrated whole. The aim is to facilitate a process whereby farmers are able to select and develop new technologies. There is explicit recognition of the value of existing knowledge. However, critics suggest that more often than not, a system is imputed to farmers' activities where none actually exists (Fairhead 1992, Richards 1989). What researchers see as an experiment may be viewed differently by farmers.

The thinking behind both PRA and RRA is that not only should all people's voices be heard, but that the processes are themselves empowering. They are able to "do their own analysis, to take command, to gain confidence, and to make their own decisions" (Chambers 1992;2). RRA is essentially a forerunner to PRA. Early emphasis was on the effectiveness and rapidity of gaining information from people, through a series of tools: ranking and scoring exercises, diagramming, transect walks, group discussion and mapping. Recently, RRA has been modified and to some extent reincarnated with a new label: PRA. Many of the same or similar techniques and tools are used (see box 7), but there is a greater emphasis on empowerment rather than simply the extraction of information. Rapidity is less important than the quality of the participation. The tools are not pre-defined methods to be implemented. They are intended to initiate a process from which outsiders stand back and local people take an active and dominant role.

Box 7: Methods used in PRA and RRA
(Adapted from Cornwall et al. 1994)

Visualized analyses


Group and team dynamics

- Participatory mapping and modelling

- Aerial photograph analyses

- Seasonal calendars

- Daily and activity profiles

- Historical profiles and trend analyses

- Timelines and chronologies

- Matrix scoring

- Preference ranking

- Venn and network diagramming

- Systems and flow diagrams

- Pie diagrams

- Semi-structured interviewing

- Transect and group walks

- Wealth ranking

- Focus group interviews

- Key informant interviews

- Ethno-histories

-Team contracts

- Rapid report writing

- Villager and shared presentations

- Self-corrected notes; and diaries

The application of more participatory approaches such as PRA and FSR to small-scale rural aquaculture is relatively recent. By nature the approaches are not technology or product focused - they are about finding appropriate technologies rather than promoting one in particular. As a result, they have been less welcomed by institutions with have a primarily single product focus (such as fish). ICLARM, as a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), has pioneered work on integrated resource management which includes fish ponds in the farming system (see below). Others (e.g. Molnar 1987, Chong et al. 1984) have discussed the applicability of FSR to aquaculture. Molnar points out a fundamental problem in the use of FSR for a crop which may be completely new to the farmers. Clearly, the absence of a local fish farming tradition may limit the usefulness of FSR due to a lack of local technologies to be modified.

"an on-farm research program must begin with fundamental instruction in the concept offish as a crop, management of the aquatic environment in terms of food, oxygen and water quality requirements, and the nature of aquatic reproductive processes" (Molnar et al. 1987).

ICLARM scientists, in their work in Asia and Africa, have a farming systems perspective on research and development. However, they stress a distance between their approach and that of commodity-focused on-farm experimentation (Lightfoot and Noble 1993). In the past, many experiments might have been conducted by farmers, but relatively few were designed and tested by them. The ICLARM approach is that, by working in close participation with farmers, the farmers themselves establish and develop their own agendas. The aim is to facilitate farmers' holistic appreciation of their environment and the potential to integrate its elements and incorporate new ones.

A first step in this work is often the establishment of local systems of resource classification at the level of the community. The idea is that farmers visualize their whole farming system and the interrelationships of its elements. Working with groups of up to twenty farmers, a common method used is participatory mapping and diagramming. This is usually done using locally available materials and terminology for different kinds of resources. Ideally, a wide range of members of the community can participate because drawing does not require literacy. For the farmers, their environment is visualized in a way that may be new. For the researcher, the mapping provides a detailed picture of land, water and soil distribution from the perspective of the local community.

Following from this community mapping, individual farmers may choose to make similar drawing for their own farms. Such drawings cover both natural resources and on and off-farm enterprises. To encapsulate seasonal change, they may be repeated at different times of the year. According to ICLARM scientists, such diagrams can provide a basis for further research and be used as the basis for suggestions of improved integrated resources management: "In this way, research agendas can be developed through mutual cooperation between farmer and researcher" (Lightfoot and Noble 1993).

Box 8: ICLARM's Africa Project

Since, 1986, ICLARM has supported a project based in Domasi, Malawi. The project involves participatory research with farmers, the training of scientists at the National Aquaculture Center (NAC), and demonstrations to farmers at the NAC.

Following a demonstration of rice-fish culture, a number of farmers experimented with the techniques demonstrated, creating rice-fish systems adapted to the specifics of their own farm and resource base.

Evidence from ICLARM trials suggest that at the level of me household, improved integrated resource management with fish fanning can result in significant benefits. These include far more than the production offish: the pond also plays an important role in irrigation of crops, in water storage, and for household use.

The ALCOM project has also experimented with participatory approaches to development, particularly RRA. In Zimbabwe, an RRA was applied to three proposed ALCOM activities on small water body utilization. A team of investigators was selected and over a week in each area, they were trained, carried out a number of activities with the communities, synthesized and reported back on their findings. The teams of investigators comprised international staff from ALCOM, experts from national-level institutions, officers from district-level agencies and field-workers from both the communities being investigated and neighbouring areas (Townsley 1992). ALCOM believes that the diverse composition of the team was a key contributor to the success of the exercise. It brought together not only a variety of disciplines, but a range of people who would be working on any activities which the appraisal ended up recommending.

The participatory nature of the exercise was also important. It would be possible to carry out an appraisal with full consultation of the local people, and therefore detailed and accurate. However, if this was then simply taken back to the office, it would have only partially fulfilled its purpose. The end-of-appraisal meeting with the local communities was vital:

"Here, after the appraisal team had "presented" their findings, they played just a marginal role in the rest of the proceedings. The protagonists were now the local people and local administrators, exchanging ideas and opinions, often disagreeing but talking issues out until a consensus was reached" (Townsley 1992;12)

Participatory approaches, and PRA in particular, have their critics. Recognition that PRA is more than a technical approach, and that if carried to its logical extreme has political implications which are unacceptable to many, can result in resistance. Participation is associated with independent decisions and self-determination. These are not in the interests of everyone. Furthermore, the demands for flexibility and adaptability are difficult to meet for organizations which have more blueprint and restrictive traditions of development planning.

On the other hand, it is fairly easy for organizations to apparently adopt participatory approaches with little effective commitment. As Cernea points out, appearances may deceive:

"We hear sudden declarations of fashionable support for participatory scientists should not confuse these statements with actual participatory planning, because under the cloud of cosmetic rhetoric, technocratic planning continues to rule" (Cernea 1991)

Associated with this is a tension between the well argued moral and practical appropriacy of avoiding top-down, non participatory research and intervention, and the problem that exists in giving meaningful content to that participation. The notion of allowing people to define their needs is weakened by the fact that it is impossible to ignore that a relatively powerful group or individual is in the position of choosing to allow something. The issues that people are supposed to participate in are defined in advance. Defining what are or are not appropriate as needs is necessarily value-laden. People in positions of power are able to make choices in such definitions. Under such circumstances, participation really is little more than a tool for developers. As Gatter puts it:

"Though in the 1980s, institutions have become increasingly enamoured with the rhetoric of participation and bottom-up development, what often passes for allowing people to articulate their needs is really a case of teaching them to do it" (Gatter 1990; 433)

Participatory approaches also tend to overlook questions of power and conflict within communities. They are ill equipped to deal with the fact that rural communities are not homogeneous, with mutually compatible interests. Differences occur with respect to age, gender, wealth, and ethnicity. The apparent consensus reached by participatory approaches may in fact just be an expression of the, dominant view. The suppression of conflicts arising from the decision to listen to one voice rather than another is not easy to identify.

Attempts to address the apparent naiveity of the "Farmer First" literature have recently been made (Scoones and Thompson 1994; Davies 1994; Long et al. 1992). They try to incorporate an understanding of the way that knowledge is the product of the interaction of unequally powerful actors. Equally, the stress is gradually shifting from a focus only on farmers, to critical issues of institutional change. Merely adopting the forms of participatory approaches without addressing the structures and approaches accompanying them is inadequate.

3.3 Concluding Comments

A wide range of questions for the future of small-scale aquaculture development have been raised. They range in complexity from pragmatic questions about the way to organize extension, to even less straightforward issues of institutional approaches, and decisions about how to link means with objectives. Answers depend on the political and institutional perspective of the respondent.

For donors concerned with the promotion of small-scale rural aquaculture, there is a need to identify which are the critical questions and what the practical implications of specific responses are. However, many of these questions have been taxing rural development planners for some time. They do not have easy answers. From the discussion so far, a number of key questions can be pinpointed:

· The duration of projects. There is now a consensus that most assistance has taken too short-term a view of the prospects for aquaculture development, and that support funds need to be committed over a much longer period of time. Results cannot be expected immediately. But is the donor community prepared or in a position to wait for the kind of time period needed?

· The role of the private sector. Mounting interest in a greater role for the private sector leads to questions about how this takes place in practice. Which elements of the private sector should donors work with and how? How can the relationship between government and non-government organizations be most constructively developed?

· The institutional location. Should attempts be made to transfer as much as possible of the responsibility for small-scale aquaculture development from fisheries to agricultural departments? How would this work in practice?

· Target groups and objectives. If decisions are made to work with one group of farmers rather than another because of their better chances for sustained management, what are the implications for meeting livelihood enhancement objectives? How might this be measured?

· Learning from successes. In places with no tradition of small-scale aquaculture, a consolidation of practices is beginning to take place. Small-scale aquaculture becomes a part of rural livelihoods regardless of external intervention. To what extent are these successes replicable? What are the factors which may impede replicability?


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