Concepts, practices and potential

Edited by

Fishery Resources Officer
FAO Fishery Department
Rome, Italy

Anne A. van Dam
Senior Lecturer
Department of Environmental Resources
UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
Delft The Netherlands

Rome, © FAO 2006


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ISBN 92-5-105491-6

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Cover page:
FAO photo by A. Conti and M. Halwart


This document contains the proceedings, including 12presentedpapers,as well as background documents and mission reports prepared for the FAO-WARDA Workshop on Integrated Irrigation Aquaculture held inBamako, Mali, from 4to 7 November 2003. Submitted presentations from the Bamako workshop were technically reviewed by the members of the Technical Secretariat of the Workshop (M. Halwart/FAO, I.Beernaerts/FAO, C.Brugère/FAO, P. Kiepe/WARDA and J.F.Moehl/FAO).All material, including the preparatory studies and analyses, were compiled and edited by M. Halwart and A.A. van Dam.

Halwart, M.; Dam, A.A. van (eds)
Integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa: concepts, practices and potential.
Rome, FAO. 2006. 181 pp.


This volume contains background documents and papers presented at the FAO-WARDA Workshop on Integrated Irrigation Aquaculture (IIA) held in Bamako, Mali,from 4to 7November2003,as well as the findings of FAO expert missions on IIA in the West Africa region. The rationale for IIA development lies in its potential to increase productivity of scarce fresh water resources, enhance food security and poverty alleviation, and reduce pressure on natural resources, particularly in the drought-prone countries of West Africa. Irrigated systems, flood plains and inland valley bottoms are identified as the three main target environments for IIA in West Africa. In irrigated systems, aquaculture is a non-consumptive use of water that can increase water productivity. Pens and floating cages are often used to grow fish in the source, delivery and disposal subsystems of irrigation schemes (dams and canals). Rice-fish farming is the most common form of aquaculture in the use subsystem of irrigation schemes. Continuity of water supply, the effect of aquaculture on water conveyance and the use of agrochemicals are the main points of attention for aquaculture in irrigation systems.

Apart from irrigation schemes, river floodplains and deltaic lowlands also offer opportunities for integration of aquaculture. By enclosing parts of these flooded areas and stocking them with aquatic organisms, food production can be enhanced. Examples of community-based rice-fish culture in Bangladesh and Viet Nam show that fish production can be increased by 0.6 to 1.5 tonnes per hectare annually. Another example is the use of seasonal ponds in the wetlands surrounding Lake Victora (East Africa) which are stocked with water and fish by natural flooding and are managed using locally available resources like animal manures and crop wastes.

Following the first three chapters which set the stage for IIA in West Africa, the fourth chapter presents a review of IIA systems in 13 West African countries which demonstrates the considerable potential for further development. Traditional marsh aquaculture systems exist in many West African countries and should be developed further, together with fish culture in irrigation schemes. The following chapters deal with current practices and constraints in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. In addition, examples of development approaches in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea are given. Concepts of economic analyses of IIA are reviewed and illustrated through an example of integrated aquaculture in Madagascar. This is followed by an overview of regional and international research institutions and networks. The final two chapters summarize the key factors for successful adoption of IIA -participation of stakeholders and support for local development; an integrated, multisectoral approach to IIA; and improved knowledge management and networking - and indicate the way forward in the form of a proposal for IIA development in West Africa.


AFVPFrench Association of Volunteers of Progress (Association française des volontaires du progrès)
ALCOMAquatic Resource Management forLocal Community Development
APDRA-CIAquaculture Association and Rural Development in the African Humid Tropics-Ivory Coast (Association pisciculture et développement rural en Afrique tropicale humide-Côte d'Ivoire)
APDRA-FAquaculture Association and Rural Development in the African Humid Tropics-France (Association pisciculture et développement rural en Afrique tropicale humide-France)
ARIAfrican Rice Initiative
ARIDRegional Association for Irrigation and Drainage
ASIAdvanced Scientific Institution
CBFMCommunity-based Fisheries Management
CIFACommittee for Inland Fisheries of Africa
CCFDCatholic Committee against Hunger and for Developmnent (Comitécatholique contre la faim et pour le développement)
CGIARConsultative Group on International Agricultural Research
CIRADCentre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement
CORAFConference of Agricultural Research Directors in West and Central Africa
DGISDirectorate General for International Cooperation, The Netherlands
EPHTAEco-regional Programme for Humid and Sub-Humid Tropics of Sub-Saharan Africa
FAOFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FFSFarmer field schools
HYVHigh yielding varieties
IAAIntegrated Agriculture-Aquaculture
ICLARMInternational Center for Living Aquatic Resource Management (now called WorldFish Center; CGIAR Center)
ICOURIrrigation Company of the Upper East Region, Ghana
ICRISATInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
IFADInternational Fund for Agricultural Development
IFPRIInternational Food Policy Research Institute
IIAIntegrated/Integration Irrigation - Aquaculture
IIRRInternational Institute for Rural Reconstruction, Philippines
IITAInternational Institute for Tropical Agriculture
ILRIInternational Livestock Research Institute
INRABInstitut national des recherches agricoles du Bénin
INREFInterdisciplinary Research and Education Fund, WUR
INREF-PONDINREF Program for Optimisation of Nutrient Dynamics
IPTRIDInternational Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage
IRRIInternational Rice Research Institute (CGIAR Center)
IUCNInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature
IVCInland Valley Consortium
IWMIInternational Water Management Institute (CGIAR Center)
IWRMIntegrated Water Resources Management
MAEMinistry of Foreign Affairs, France (Ministère des affaires étrangères)
NARSNational Agricultural Research Systems
NGONon-Governmental Organization
OUAOuelessebougou-Utah Alliance
OUAOrganization de l'unitéafricaine
PPCOCentral Western Fish Culture Project (Projet piscicole Centre-Ouest), Côte d'Ivoire, 1992–1996
PPGFFish culture project in Guinée Forestière (le Projet piscicole de Guinée Forestière), 1999–2004
ROCARIZRegional Rice Research and Development Network for West and Central Africa
SIFRStrategy for Inland Fisheries Research
SIMASystem-wide Initiative on Malaria and Agriculture (CGIAR)
SPFSSpecial Programme for Food Security
SSASub-Saharan Africa
UNCEDUnited Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNESCOUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO-IHEUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education
VINVALProject on the impact of changing land cover on the production and ecological functions of vegetation in inland valleys in West Africa, implemented by WUR (Alterra)
WARDAWARDA-The Africa Rice Center (CGIAR Center)
WEDEMWetland Development and Management
WURWageningen University and Research Center
WURPWetland Utilization Research Project


Freshwater is quickly becoming one of the scarcest resources of the twenty-first century. Significant investment is required to optimize use of this highly-demanded resource by increasing total water productivity and efficiency of the multitude of irrigated systems, particularly in Africa. The Region's water resources need to be developed for delivery of a wider variety of services contributing to increased production of food and enhanced economic growth for each unit of water consumed.

Competition for freshwater is among the most critical challenges being faced by developing countries. Although fisheries, including aquaculture, are usually non-consumptive users of water, they can constrain consumption by other users; fish stocks depending on particular water quantities and seasonal flows in rivers, lakes or estuaries. There is, therefore, a need to acquire a broader knowledge of these interactions and a better understanding of the diverse processes affecting local resource management contributing to crop and fish production as well as to other goods and services generated by aquatic ecosystems. In this context, FAO has identified Integrated Irrigation Aquaculture (IIA) as a key subject for interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration.

In collaboration with regional partners such as the Africa Rice Center (WARDA), FAO has adopted IIA as an integral part of sustainable integrated water resources management (IWRM) focusing on the multiple uses of aquatic ecosystems. It is considered essential to encourage an enabling environment to achieve coherence from relevant policies at all levels to local natural resource management arrangements. Yet, many countries still have to develop national guidelines for IIA as components of national inland fisheries or aquaculture strategies. Without strategic planning tools to guide the establishment of pilot IIA activities, it is very difficult for those countries with the greatest need to appreciate the advantages from developing IIA.

Within this context, attributing the right value to food and the environment in multi-purpose agricultural water use systems, and particularly irrigated and swamp rice systems,is an important issue. In the future, major investment will be required to address this, focusing on the development of better methods for measuring economic value. In addition, it will be necessary to assist with corresponding improvements of governance systems that facilitate cross-sectoral water management decision-making processes and embrace an ecosystem-based approach.

FAO is committed to actively supporting the recommendations of this workshop, within its mandate and resources. The Organization will continue fostering strategic partnerships with development and research organizations on irrigation and aquaculture in Africa to further strengthen FAO's normative work on policy and methodology development while ensuring national implementation on the basis of concrete requests from member countries' governments.

Louise Fresco
Assistant Director-General
FAO Agriculture, Biosecurity, Nutrition
and Consumer Protection Department
Ichiro Nomura
Assistant Director-General
FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department


Africa Rice Center (WARDA) is committed to alleviating poverty in Africa through research, development and partnership activities aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of the rice sector, while ensuring the sustainability of the farming environment. Key factors to reach these goals are intensification and diversification of rice-based systems. WARDA is working on several aspects of diversification of rice-based systems by studying the inclusion of vegetable production. Fish represents a new area of potential diversification for African farmers.

Integrated irrigation-aquaculture (IIA) offers an excellent opportunity for rice farmers to make more efficient use of water resources. It also introduces extra protein to their diet. Historically, protein was not lacking in the African diet. The prime limitation was not the availability of protein but whether it could be afforded. This situation is worsening: natural river fish stocks are rapidly being depleted and the price of fish is rising. Farmers are, however, starting to notice the potential ingrowing fish for home consumption as well as for the wider marketplace.

During multi-stakeholder consultation meetings, which are held regularly in Mali between the national agricultural research system Institut d'Economie Rurale(IER), farmer organizations and the extension service, rice-fish culture was selected in 2005 as the topmost research priority. This statement underlines the need and relevance for rice-fish research in the subregion.

Integrated irrigation-aquaculture is a relatively new area for WARDA. Fish culture was already subject of study in the Inland Valley Consortium (IVC), the Ecoregional Program that is convened by WARDA. However, these studies focused on fishponds in inland valleys and not on the integration of fish in rice fields, which is stimulating interest from rice farmers in different ecologies. WARDA was happy with the combined FAO and IVC initiative to hold a stakeholders workshop assessing the state of the art of IIA in West Africa and to explore ways of future collaboration that would help achieve joint goals.

This workshop resulted in a five-year collaborative research project bringing together WARDA, WorldFishCenter, IER and - through its agricultural biodiversity activities in Mali-FAO as an affiliate partner. The project Community-Based Fish Culture in Irrigation Systems and Seasonal Floodplains aims at enhancing water productivity to improve and sustain the livelihoods of the poor in Mali. It is also part of an overall interdisciplinary action research project between three CGIAR centres (IFPRI, WARDA and WorldFishCenter) and six countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Mali and VietNam). Because of this project new opportunities have been created for WARDA to be actively involved in further rice-fish culture research in West Africa. There is an option at a later stage of the project to extend the work in Mali to Senegal, which would fit in well with WARDA's goals and aspirations and satisfy the expressed needs of rice farmers.

Kanayo F. Nwanze
Africa Rice Center - WARDA

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Preparation of this document


List of acronyms

Foreword FAO

Foreword WARDA


1.   Characterization of three key environments for integrated irrigation-aquaculture and their local names
P. Kiepe

2.   A review of experience with aquaculture integration in large-scale irrigation systems
J. Gowing

3.   Community-based fish culture in seasonal floodplains
M. Prein & M.M.Dey

4.   A review of the development of integrated irrigation aquaculture (IIA), with special reference to West Africa
C. Brugère

5.   The potential for development of aquaculture and its integration with irrigation within the context of the FAO Special Programme for Food Security in the Sahel
J. Miller

6.   A feasibility study of rice-fish farming in Western Africa
D. Sanni & G. Juanich

7.   The potential for integrated irrigation-aquaculture in Mali
J. Peterson & M. Kalende

8.   The potential for integrated irrigation-aquaculture (IIA) in Senegal
J. Peterson, M. Kalende, D. Sanni & M. N'Gom

9.   Integrated irrigation-aquaculture opportunities in Nigeria: the Special Programme for Food Security and rice-fish farming in Nigeria
J.Miller, T. Atanda, G. Asala & W.H. Chen

10.  Aquaculture associations - rural development in tropical humid Africa
B. Bentz

11.  Integrated pond aquaculture in Lake Victoria wetlands
A.A. van Dam, R.C. Kaggwa & J. Kipkemboi

12.  Economics of integrated irrigation-aquaculture
C. Brugère

13.  International research support for integrated irrigation and aquaculture development
C. Brugère

14.  The sustainable fisheries livelihoods programme (SFLP) and the fight against poverty
J.C. Njock

15.  Integrating aquaculture into agroecosystems in West Africa: the roles of WARDA - The Africa Rice Center and the Inland Valley Consortium
P. Kiepe

16.  The Worldfish Center and its relevance for integrated irrigation and aquaculture
M. Prein & R. Brummett

17.  Wageningen University and Research Center's networks and the future role of INREF-POND in integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa
R. Bosma, P. Windmeijer & H. Komen

18.  The UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education: capacity building and research in integrated water resources management
A.A. van Dam

19.  Development of integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa: the way forward
M. Halwart & A.A. van Dam

20.  Proposal for a programme of integrated inland water resources management in drought-prone West African countries
J. Moehl, M. Halwart & I. Beernaerts