Helping small-holder farmers improve on farm practices to increase
the sustainability of global aquaculture
the sustainability of global aquaculture
In sectors such as shrimp farming, a majority of production is by small-holders. Data and information flow is constrained within the aquaculture sector and new knowledge of best practices for aquaculture, while rapidly increasing, is not effectively transmitted to many medium- and small-scale farmers in developing countries (those typically outside of value chains focused on certification efforts). Similarly, knowledge and data on impacts are not being effectively collected by government managers and researchers. This lack of information transfer can have dramatic consequences when a new disease affects a region. Farmers cannot adopt better practices to insulate themselves from the ravages of the disease, while governments often only learn of the disease after it has affected a significant proportion of the industry.
Technology (cellphones and hand-held devices) can be used to create a means to distribute information on BMPs in aquaculture, but at the same time to retrieve farm-level information relevant to the BMP as well as to ensure (through an interactive question format) that the lessons learned were sufficiently conveyed to the farmer. Unlike traditional farm-level improvement efforts or even zonal projects, this mobile platform will allow for the education around better production practices, to reduce environmental impacts and improve product quality across an entire industry, potentially covering many thousands of producers, from the smallest to the largest producers, from the most environmentally impactful to the least. This project ultimately will address the sustainability issues of:
- How to rapidly disseminate and educate farmers industry-wide on better production practices to address critical environmental challenges.
- How to create accurate industry-wide baselines on sustainability and quantify improvements as a result of increased update of better production practices.
- How to effectively coordinate disease prevention and management response in a region or zone without often politically difficult and length process of setting up smaller management groups.
- How to provide an industry-wide emergency response system in the event of a novel or emerging disease.
Where we work
We seek partners to help implement this tool in any country and with any species so we can help move the bar towards more sustainable aquaculture production
Benefits to the Farmers:
The main benefit will be to provide directed learning to improve the capacity of individual farmers. In addition, this system will help the industry respond to spatially distinct disease events. The evaluation component of this small holder work will aggregate responses by farmers and will geo-spatially identify similar responses. Thus, if there is a “hot-spot” where a significant number of farmers have increased mortality, this system can allow managers to proactively identify these areas that require immediate attention. Finally, this mapping activity will be an important step in determining cumulative impacts, as well as foundational to creating zonal management.
Small Holders and The Theory of Improvement
Certification is an important piece to ensure seafood sustainability, but currently a great many farmers are not engaged in the certification process. Often referred to as the "other 80%", these farmers often do not have access to the same learning opportunities as larger-scale, more organized farmers. These small-holder farmers represent a pressing need for more holistic aquaculture improvement projects to enable Best Management Practices that can help them progress towards more sustainable solutions. In addition to delivery of BMPs, there is an equally pressing need for data collection methods in order to determine both the true environmental cost (and benefits) of aquaculture production, as well as metrics to assess improvement as farmers adopt better practices. Ultimately, data collection activities can be used to enable small-holders to document their practices, a necessary step toward engaging in markets in developed countries.