De Silva, S.S, Phillips, M.J, Sih, Y.S. & Zhou, X.W. 2001. Human resources development for sustainable aquaculture in the new millennium, Plenary Lecture IV. In R.P. Subasinghe, P. Bueno, M.J. Phillips, C. Hough, S.E. McGladdery & J.R. Arthur, eds. Aquaculture in the Third Millennium. Technical Proceedings of the Conference on Aquaculture in the Third Millennium, Bangkok, Thailand, 20-25 February 2000. pp. 43-48. NACA, Bangkok and FAO, Rome.
ABSTRACT: Human resources development (HRD) is pivotal to aquaculture development in the new millennium, particularly so in the changing global pressure for all development to be environmentally and socially acceptable, irrespective of the economic status of nations. In the above context, HRD in the aquaculture sector has to have a more holistic approach, and the type of training provided has to be changed accordingly. Most nations in which aquaculture plays a significant role in poverty alleviation recognise that HRD is a key to sustained development of the sector. The types and levels of training required in the sector in the foreseeable future are discussed. The need to increase specialised training, particularly for researchers, in some of the developing nations likely to play a dominant role in the aquaculture sector in the ensuing years, is also underlined. Examples are presented to indicate that current development programmes do not cater to HRD to the extent that is desirable to have a long-term impact.
KEY WORDS: Aquaculture, Human Resources Development, Extension, Education, Research
The development of human resources, both in quality and quantity, is pivotal to sustaining the aquaculture industry in the new millennium, especially so in the climate of changing paradigms affecting the sector (De Silva, 2001). Some of the key trends and challenges facing the industry reflect an ever-increasing global call for development, irrespective of the economic status of the nation, to be socially and environmentally acceptable. As a follow-up to this, aquaculture is unlikely to sustain itself based on economic viability alone, but will need to ensure social and environmental sustainability as well (Kutty, 1997). The potential milieu of the sector in the new millennium can, therefore, be summarised as follows:
Reduced growth rates in the aquaculture sector: There has been a reduction in the rate of growth of aquaculture production in some parts of the world, e.g. Asia. Only South America has shown an overall increase in the rate of growth over the last 10 years (De Silva, 2001).
Controversies and issues of public concern: There is concern over some aquaculture developments, for example, the increasing use of fishmeal in some aquaculture sectors (Naylor et al., 2000) and shrimp farm development in India (Murthy, 1997). It is crucial that aquaculture takes note of such controversies and any potential repercussions, if it is going to meet its development targets.
Changing aspirations of the industry: Like all primary production industries, aquaculture has to keep pace with the needs of a growing global middle class and economic upswing in most developing countries and/or regions. The sector has to increase the proportion of production of high value aquatic animals, e.g. the increase of the production of Chinese perch, Siniperca chuasti, in China. The bulk of this production is now consumed locally compared with the predominant export market of a decade ago.
Increasing demand for land and water resources: Aquaculture now has to compete for primary resources, such as land and water, on an equal basis with all other stakeholders, whereas it was previously a marginal land/water site user.
Increasing competition among aquaculture products: With increasing living standards, the aspirations of the consumers are destined to change; consumers will become more choosy, and this will inevitably result in increasing competition amongst produce.
Improved hygiene standards: Access to knowledge and information is public domain and increasingly so in all corners of the world, and a very desirable consequence of this has been an increasing awareness on hygienic standards, nutrition-health links and related food quality issues.
Finally, as emphasised in the Bangkok Declaration and Strategy prepared by this Conference, it is increasingly recognised that aquaculture has to contribute more effectively to human development goals in many countries - poverty alleviation, food security and improvement of rural peoples livelihoods.
| In this regard, an Expert Consultation on Aquaculture Education
(July 2000, Hanoi) considered the target groups, the desired knowledge and
skills for each target group, and the type of education that would deliver
the desired results. The results of the findings are summarised in Table
| the sector, and not surprisingly, five of these involved
HRD, particularly in relation to small-scale farmers and extension workers.
(Machena and Moehl, 2001). On the issue of HRD, it is also important to
recognise the specific needs of nations and regions. Past experience in
the aquaculture sector and elsewhere has shown that mere transfer of technologies
is not always effective and can even be counter productive. Obviously, training
needs vary significantly amongst regions and are related to the degree of
development of the sector, thus the gross needs of Africa may be significantly
different from those of Asia (Machena and Moehl, 2001).
|One other important factor that needs to be taken into consideration
in HRD is the diverse nature of the aquaculture sector. Currently, it is
estimated that nearly 150 species are cultured, ranging from invertebrates
to reptiles (FAO, 1999), including marine, brackish- and freshwater, temperate
and tropical species. Culture practices range from extensive, to semi-intensive
to intensive systems, and involve the use of ponds, raceways, pens and cages
etc., in open, flow-through or closed systems. Aquaculture is practised
in widely diversified ecological and socio-economic condi-tions, and the
handling of the postharvest product also varies consi-derably. Not surprisingly,
this diversity exacerbates the complexity of providing skill development
and know-ledge transfer at all levels of expertise needed. This differs
significantly from other food production sectors. In such circum-stances,
it is difficult, if not impossible, for one (or even a limited number) of
institutions to provide the expertise in all of these aspects. Therefore,
a key to HRD in the new millennium will be cooperation amongst institutions.
If aquaculture is to develop in a sustainable manner in the new millennium, there needs to be an increase in research capabilities at the centres of emergent aquaculture, e.g. Vietnam and Ecuador. Continued dependence on training and expertise from temperate and developed regions should be re-evaluated and resources enhanced for within-region training, where expertise is based on local aquaculture systems.
To illustrate the need for enhanced HRD in research Figure 1, indicates the age and qualification distribution of researchers in an emerging aquaculture nations government research institutions. In this nation, of the 224 researchers in govern-mental aquaculture institutions, only 20.1 percent had postgraduate training, of which 6.3 percent had a Ph.D. or equivalent qualification.
|This does not imply that to be an effective researcher one
needs a Ph.D., but it has to be conceded that a critical mass of people
with suitable postgraduate training is needed to maintain and generate the
research designs required to meet aquaculture development needs.
the following were evident from the survey:
| Unfortunately however, research funding provided by governments
and/or the private sector in developing countries is relatively little.
The private sector needs to be encouraged to invest in research, and governments
need to consider providing appropriate incentives to the private sector
to facilitate such a trend.
Hitherto, developing countries have tended to depend to a significant extent on donor agencies for training and research funding. Tables 2 and 3 provide the breakdown of funds allocated in a regional and international context.
It is evident that only a small amount of donor funds were dedicated to HRD by the above organisation. Admittedly, each of the major areas of expenditure may have included a certain amount of funds for workshops and short-term training, but the question remains whether or not funds spent on capacity building are adequate for sector development in a sustainable manner. Certainly the proportion of funds spent on training within one regional project valued at US$600 000 was only 6.7 percent (Table 3), and the bulk of these funds was spent on consultants.
It is important that donor agencies take note of the above and encourage capacity building in emerging aquaculture nations by channelling a larger amount/proportion of funds into on-site or regionally based training.
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