Certain key impressions stand out in the Mission's initial observations. These include:
In many Asian countries, aquaculture tends to be an “elite craft”. Artificial spawning is a highly specialized field limited to technicians and scientists. In China, ordinary farmers throughout the countryside practise this craft.
Concepts in integrating agriculture and fisheries are well known (worldwide), but China puts these concepts into practice. Integration is realized to an effective degree.
The Chinese have broken away from the traditional monoculture pattern and rely on polyculture. In this practice, there is effective use of indigenous materials and simple technology.
The Mission feels that the potential for production of fish by intensive culture is more fully developed in China than in any other country.
(a) There is full integration of fishery and fish culture with water conservancy, agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, sideline occupations and intensive use of land and water resources, specially at farm level.
Throughout the trip, the emphasis China places on comprehensive and intensive use of land and water resources was evident to Mission members. Water bodies for drainage or irrigation were also used for fish breeding and catching. Fish reared in these areas convert agricultural wastes to fertile water and the humus-enriched bottom mud of ponds is used as fertilizer for crops.
Watershed management seeks not merely to control erosion but also to increase water fertility. Pigs, dairy herds, manure crops and orchards are actively promoted to benefit fish production. Land consolidation includes fish ponds as well. This multi-faceted approach was impressive.
(b) Fish polyculture is practised within the same body of water
Mixed species cultivation or polyculture is the general practice. The Mission was told that wherever there is water - in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, ditches or paddy fields-fish are being raised. Major Chinese carp species are raised in combination with other species. Monoculture is practised only in the rearing of fry.
Management of water for aquaculture consists of organic manure application and feeding. Inorganic fertilizers or commercially prepared feeds are not used. Fodder grown along dikes is the main supplementary feed. Thus, fish do not compete with people for food.
Aerators are used to increase productivity by 20 percent or more. There is stress on disease prevention. Since 1958, artificial spawning produces a reliable source of fry and fingerlings for both pond culture and for stocking lakes and reservoirs.
(c) Lakes and reservoirs are effectively managed for all-round development.
Extension of polyculture principles in ponds to these bodies of water results in full use of natural foods in lakes and wastes from surrounding land.
Effective use of direct management methods like fertilization and systematic stocking or indirect methods like watershed management raises productivity. Generally, shallow lakes and reservoirs of the heavily populated lowlands like Taihu Lake in Kiangsu Province produce about 50–70 kg/ha in large bodies. Yields of 1 000 kg/ha were reported in lakes smaller than 1 000 ha.
(d) The policy of “open-door” research, education and training translates itself into productivity increases.
As in other agricultural sectors, research in fisheries is problem-oriented and combines theory with practice. Researchers and farmers teach and learn from each other. At least two years' production experience is required of those who enter university or technical school. Teachers must work in the field too.
(e) Programme planning is decentralized and enables popular participation. This results in effective implementation.
The commune structure enables farmers to plan their programmes to meet local needs. The commune, at the same time, has enough resources and skills to meet those needs. Planning and implementation are done at local level and therefore achieve effective integration and parallel development of related sectors.
(f) Efforts to sustain community consciousness and collective action are unremitting.
At all levels of Chinese society, emphasis is given to motivating people to work for the benefit of all. The rapid development of fish production appears partly due to this mobilization of people and to their pride in their own contributions to communal production.
The Mission believes that FAO and many of its Member Nations may gain considerable benefit from knowledge of China's experiences in fish culture and its development. The particular forms of fish culture practised in China may not be directly applicable in many countries, particularly outside Asia. But the perspectives of Chinese fish farmers on self-reliance and on the inter-dependence of aquaculture, agriculture and animal husbandry, and their familiarity with fish and fish behaviour under conditions of intensive culture, make their experience most valuable elsewhere.
The Chinese insistence on adopting the living standards of the localities in which they work, especially their insistence on doing so in their programmes of aid to others, make it difficult to fit individual Chinese experts into the usual FAO-managed projects. Provisions must also be made for the problems of language.
Considering the above, the Mission recommends that FAO encourages the use of Chinese expertise and experience in some or all of the following ways:
Projects and sub-projects in small-scale water development, irrigation, and reservoir management, especially where fish production is one of the objectives.
Projects for the development of medium to large-scale culture of Chinese carps.
Combination pilot, demonstration and training projects in intensive culture of fish and/or in the management of the fisheries of small reservoirs (less than 1 000 ha).
Exchange programmes and/or study tours for fish farmers (groups of 10 to 20) for both Chinese groups visiting other member countries and vice versa (a group should have common language).
Study tours for inland fishery administrators and planners to provide them with new or different perspectives on their own problems.
Preparation of manuals and training materials on the polyculture of Chinese carps, management of small reservoirs for multiple use, irrigation works and water management. These should be prepared, in the official languages of FAO, by sending to China experts in the respective fields whose language is that of the manual to be prepared. Periods of two to six months are appropriate.
Research and practical training for FAO staff in China for periods of one to three months under the Refresher Training Programme in such topics as induced breeding of fish, pond productivity, culture of freshwater mussels.
Preparation of a documentary film on integrated agriculture-aquaculture in China for the use of FAO in promoting integration of land and water use in developing countries.
Finally, the Mission was impressed by the degree to which individuals and local groups participate in the planning and management of China's development. The Mission felt strongly that FAO and its member countries should re-examine ways in which development projects of all kinds can be identified, planned and executed at the local or village level. Particularly for the rapid development of fish culture in rural development everywhere, such emphasis on “grass roots” activities and projects seems essential.