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Impact of climate change on the socio-economics of aquaculture in the District of Noakhali, Bangladesh

 

M. Hasan et al.

 

 

Abstract

 

The study examined the role of technology to aquaculture farmers vulnerable to climate change and the study also identified common categories of aquaculture practices in the coastal district Noakhali, Bangladesh and the vulnerabilities associated with such aquaculture practices. The study used extensive field visits, interviews with the key informants of regional fisheries and livestock development component (RFLDC) and farmers, personal communications, questionnaire survey and focus group discussion as the main procedures to collect data and information. The study found four common categories of aquaculture in the mainland, accreted and newly accreted lands of Noakhali and characterized those with technology level, size, dependencies, markets, ownership, species mix, constraints and vulnerabilities to changing climate. Average net returns from the technology induced aquaculture in community based ponds and waterlogged paddy lands were 905.33 and 362.78 USD/ha/year respectively. The study found the pond aquaculture in the newly accreted lands more vulnerable to climate change than other types. RFLDC, which is a joint collaboration project of Government of Bangladesh and Danish international development agency (DANIDA), had been involved in extending technology to the poor farmers for sustainable development of the farmers’ livelihood through agricultural activities. Farmer Field Schools, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), CBO associations and Union Parishad have been found to be playing very effective role for the development of aquaculture.

 

Introduction

 

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food producing sectors demonstrating continuous increase in total production throughout the last few decades in a number of developing countries. This significant expansion is due to growing demand for aquatic products and the development of new technologies for aquaculture. Aquaculture is diverse consisting of a broad spectrum of different systems and practices ranging from simple backyard, small household pond systems to large scale, highly intensive and commercially oriented practices and operations. Aquaculture sector contributes to food security, poverty alleviation and social well-being in many countries of the world. Aquaculture is one of the means to supply protein to the people in a cost-efficient way [1].

 

Proper management strategies to develop sustainable aquaculture practices are still in a developing stage in Bangladesh. Aquaculture activities have however been improved significantly in the recent years to increase production. Small-scale pond aquaculture has taken off dramatically over the past thirty years especially under the influence of a number of major donor-funded aquaculture development and extension projects. The government of Bangladesh has by the support from these projects first created a network of fish hatcheries which ensured reliable supply of good quality carp seed to the farmers. Managers then identified key parameters of successful pond aquaculture production: appropriate pond preparation, including preliminary fertilization, stocking with an appropriate mix of species to utilize the different ecological niches in the pond and at the right density, judicious feeding and fertilization during grow-out, maintenance of a good pond environment to ensure efficient utilization of pond fertility and feed.

 

The Department of Fisheries, Government of Bangladesh despite its limitations has been responsible for overseeing the rapid development of aquaculture in Bangladesh but it has an unclear perception on poverty focus [2]. Most of the aquaculture development took place in a project mode on the basis of resources offered by donors and in some cases these resources were channeled through large international NGOs such as CARE, CARITAS and BRAC, which have their own specific fisheries programmes. Bangladesh has, partly as a result of significant donor support, adopted stocking and culture-based fisheries as national strategies to feed a rapidly growing population [3].

 

Climate change will affect socio-economic sectors which include water resources, agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, human settlements, ecological systems and human health [2,4]. The ecological systems which support aquaculture are already known to be sensitive to climate variability [5]. There is very limited work done on climate change and the effects of climate change on aquaculture production. Therefore, it is urgent need to improved management and better aquaculture practices to minimize the loss of aquaculture production.

 

Materials and Methods

 

Extensive field visits, interviews and personal communications were used to survey the dominating categories of aquaculture in Noakhali. People who worked for RFLDC at different levels gave the information about how the technologies were being extended to the farmers, the marketing system, and they also provided data of costs and returns of aquaculture in the community based ponds and water logged paddy lands. Key informants of RFLDC also informed about the vulnerabilities, resilience and livelihoods of farmers. Informal meetings were arranged with the key informants. One Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with the farmers in a CBO office was arranged to have better ideas of the vulnerability context and their resilience to those vulnerabilities. Questionnaire was used during the interviews.

 

Results

 

Transfer of technology

 

Major Technical assistance and support were given to the fish farmers by the Government and DANIDA in their joint collaboration project Regional Fisheries and Livestock Development Component. The information related to the process of technology transfer to the farmers was collected from the key informants of RFLDC working at different levels. Secondary information was also collected from unpublished reports of RFLDC.

 

Integrated farmer field school (FFS) approach

 

The integrated farmer field school (FFS) approach taken by RFLDC is a highly participatory mode of training in which groups of farmers identify what they wish to learn. The farmers undergo a process in which they discover their resources, exchange their own experiences in the best use of those resources, carry out experiments to compare possible new technologies and make their own decisions on adoption. Farmers join FFS because they want to learn and adopt in the FFS. Table 1 lists the objectives of FFS. The FFS approach is teaching the farmers not to adopt only but also to adapt. This approach deals with whatever the resources the farmers have and making them more resilient with those available resources. Farmer Field Schools follow a demand-driven curriculum that is determined by the priority constraints identified during needs assessment. FFS encourages farmer experimentation as part of discovery learning. Each farmer field school is organized for about 25 households with common interests, who can support each other, both with their individual experience and strengths and to create a 'critical mass'.

 

Community Based Organization (CBO)

 

The Community-based Organizations (CBOs) have been developed as a vehicle for promoting knowledge and skill related to the production and development of aquaculture, livestock and vegetable cultivation, and livelihoods in general by organizing FFSs. Table 2 describes the role of CBOs.

 

CBO association

 

The CBO associations were developed as the apex community organizations for establishing the rights and privileges of the component CBOs through bargaining and dialogue to various government and private level organizations. Alongside of policy advocacy the associations have also been involved in rendering various services (Table 3).

 

Union parishad (UP)

 

Union Parishad is the smallest and rural administrative effective local government institution working with the people at a local level, was also involved by RFLDC to its programme for coordinating the development agendas to the policies and strategies of the government rural level. Under the Local Government Act-1983, Peoples Republic of Bangladesh each Union Parishad (UP) has 13 standing committees, of which one standing committee is related to fisheries, livestock and agriculture. The standing committee is supposed to consist of five UP members and a co-opted representative from CBOs working under the Union Parishad. The committee meets every month to identify problems related to fisheries, livestock and crop, and takes decisions regarding the relevant issues. The committee also verifies, approves and forwards the block grant proposals of CBO to RFLDC and monitors the CBO activities especially the block grant project activities implemented under the UP. Beyond monitoring CBO block grant project activities, the committee prepare own projects related to fisheries, livestock and crop for block grant from RFLDC and implement it under direct supervision of the committee. The involvement of UP as local government institution at the grass root level is supposed to enhance the sustainability of the CBO programmes in terms of linkage with government development strategies and transparency of implementation by involving the local representatives for long-term sustainable national development.

 

1

 To provide an environment in which farmers could acquire appropriate knowledge and skills. 

2

 To be able farmers to make sound crop (in the fields of aquaculture, livestock and vegetables) management decisions. 

3

To sharpen farmers’ abilities to make critical decisions that can make their farming activities more profitable and sustainable. 

4

 To improve farmers’ problem solving abilities. 

5

 To show farmers the benefits of working in groups and encourage group activities. 

6

 To empower farmers to become “experts” on their own farms and to be more confident in solving their own problems

 
Table 1:  List of FFS objectives.
 

1

Identifying pro-poor demand-led development and production oriented services related to aquaculture, livestock and crop production. 

2

 Enabling resource poor farmers to involve in appropriate improved production activities by enhancing capacities through FFSs. 

3

Linking to private sector enterprises of input supplies. 

4

Playing the role of actors of marketing chains for having fair prices of their products. 

5

Acting as Water Management Groups. 

6

Having linkages to local government institutions like Union Parishad (UP) for governance. 

7

Sustainable integration with the national development policies and activities.

 

Table 2:  The role of CBOs.

 

1

Ensuring free flow of production inputs to component CBOs

2

Networking with the input and output markets to the component CBOs 

3

Developing private entrepreneurships for quality fish feed production and also establishment of local nursery

 

Table 3:  Various services of CBO associations.

 

Categories of aquaculture 

Technology level 

Size (Ha) 

Dependencies 

Markets 

Ownership 

Species mix 

Aquaculture in waterlogged paddy lands 

Semi-intensive 

2.02-17 

Capital, quality feed and quality seeds 

Sell to the local market and use for own consumption (prawns go to the mega city markets and processors) 

Communal 

Carp, prawn, small indigenous species, and aquatic vegetation

Aquaculture in Community based ponds 

Semi-intensive 

0.28-1.13 

Capital, quality feed and quality seeds 

Sell to the local market and use for own consumption (prawns go to the mega city markets and processors) 

Communal 

Carp, Tilapia, prawn and small indigenous species 

Aquaculture in ponds with dykes in newly accreted lands 

Technically weak/ very much extensive 

0.08-0.20 

Only rice bran used 

Sell to the local market and use for own consumption 

Private 

Carp and tilapia. Very few households stock prawn 

Aquaculture in ponds with no or broken dykes in newly accreted lands 

Traditional/ Technically weak/ very much extensive 

0.08-0.20 

Only rice bran used 

Mainly for household consumption rests for sale 

Private 

Wild fish and few carp species

 

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