Rep Hing knows 24 different ways of preparing fish. She grills, fries, salts, steams and ferments them. Luckily, both she and her family of 25 like fish. They eat fish almost every day, raising them right behind their house in the Siem Reap province in northern Cambodia.
Two years ago Ms Rep participated in an FAO aquaculture training course. "We learned how to build and repair a fish pond, how to raise fingerlings and how to produce the feed for the fish," said Ms Rep, who today has two fish ponds with five different kinds of fish. She has also received training in farming fish in her rice fields and raising fingerlings. "It is not difficult to farm fish and it is good for our family," she said. "We eat better and we also earn money."
Since 1999, FAO has trained more than 800 farmers in family fish pond management in Siem Reap. The purpose is to contribute to food security and income generation in the area but also to reduce the migration of farmers to the nearby Tonle Sap Lake, where overfishing is a serious problem. The training is part of an extensive participatory natural resource management project in the Tonle Sap region, managed by FAO.
Aquaculture is an important contributor to poverty alleviation, food security and social well-being in many countries like Cambodia. Approximately 90 percent of global production comes from developing countries, and a large proportion of this comes from small-scale producers such as Ms Rep.
"Aquaculture plays a crucial role in rural development," said Rohana Subasinghe, FAO Senior Fisheries Resource Officer. "It can not only provide good nutritious food for households and help small-scale farmers survive bad harvests, but it can also create jobs and increase income in local communities."
Aquaculture contributes almost a third of global fisheries landings. Today fish represents 15.9 percent of the total animal protein supply worldwide, higher than all other meat products. People living in Asia and Africa are much more dependent on fish as part of their daily diets than are people living in other regions of the world. An example is the Philippines, where more than 50 percent of the protein intake comes from fish.
Ms Rep, who also grows rice, melons, coconuts, bananas, mangoes and sugarcane, wants to dig a new pond and raise even more fish next year. She especially wants to expand the selling of fingerlings. "Several neighbours have already bought my fingerlings but we can easily sell more. People around here can see that my family is doing better, and they want to follow our example," she said.