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The unlocked potential of inland fish to contribute to improved nutrition in Sri Lanka. Policy brief

Policy Brief

Protein-energy malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies are important public health issues in Sri Lanka. Fish play a crucial role in nutrition and thus, promoting fish in the diet is among the strategies to control protein-energy malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies. Fish are a source of proteins and healthy fats and provide a unique source of essential nutrients, including long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamin D and calcium. Furthermore, fish are ideal options for maintaining good health and weight management as they are low in cholesterol and thus recommended for patients with diabetes, coronary heart diseases and hypertension over other animal proteins.

 Despite their health benefits, expenditure on purchase of inland fish in Sri Lanka is low, with the average Sri Lankan spending only LKR 477.25 per month (~USD2.8) in 2016 on fresh fish from fresh waters (inland fish) and sea waters. Furthermore, despite the productive potential of inland fish, availability remains an issue, contributing to approximately 16 percent of the total fish production in Sri Lanka in 2016. 

These figures show that there is a great unharnessed potential to develop the inland fish value chain and promote its consumption as an avenue to improve the nutritional status of the Sri Lankan population. Furthermore, the extent of water bodies available in the country, and the natural and artificial environments within which inland fishers operate, serve as an ideal environment to promote the production of inland fish. In this respect, this policy brief discusses the potential of introducing more inland fish to the diets of Sri Lankans, particularly vulnerable groups. 

Published: 2019
Publisher: FAO
Geography: Asia & Pacific