Increasing the productivity of aquaculture is one key way of improving food security and promoting rural development. That is the premise of a project launched by FAO this week in Bishkek.
In 2010, aquaculture production in the Kyrgyz Republic was recorded at just 319 tonnes, a mere 10 percent of the output recorded during the 1980s. Indeed, since independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, aquaculture production across the Central Asian region has declined markedly, and by 2010 accounted for just 7 731 tonnes or 0.018 percent of global production.
The reasons for the post-independence decline in aquaculture production in the Kyrgyz Republic are complex and include political, institutional, economic, technical and social factors.
The transition from a state-led to a market economy has seen a dramatic fall-off in government financing and investment in the sector. Funding for research and development is no longer forthcoming and state subsidies to maintain existing infrastructure have also declined significantly.
After the transition to democracy, approximately 90 percent of state-owned farms in the country were privatized. Privatization was accompanied by a general decline of state institutions and governance structures, which when combined with poor legislative frameworks to support investment have deterred private sector involvement in the sector.
As a result, many once functioning fish farms now lie abandoned. A lack of technical specialists and limited numbers of trained aquaculture personnel – in both the public and private sectors – also limits development of the sector. The decline or closure of support industries such as feed manufacturers, fish hatcheries and seed suppliers, and poor access to cost-effective imported alternatives have also had a negatively impact on all levels of the value chain, making supply chain management problematic.
The FAO project aims to address increase production efficiency by promoting the manufacture and use of high-quality, cost-effective and safe feeds utilizing locally available feed ingredients. It will also help improve the feed supply chain, and optimize on-farm feed management practices. These interventions are expected to enhance the economic performance of farming operations and stimulate growth in the sector.
High-quality feeds that satisfy the nutritional requirements of the cultured species and optimize growth are essential for improving production yields, lowering production costs, improving economic returns, and lowering risk. Poor-quality feeds and feed management practices typically result in low growth rates, low farm production and poor economic returns. Low revenues, in turn, result in the farmers’ inability to afford quality feed, perpetuating the cycle of inefficiency and poor performance.
The FAO project aims to break this cycle of inefficiency with a holistic approach that also addresses regulatory and governance structures.
National specialists in the area of aquaculture development, representatives of academic institutions and fish associations, and FAO experts from Rome and Ankara participated in the project launch.
20 June 2014, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan