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A global perspective on agroecology in aquaculture

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The organisers of a workshop on agroecology hope that will encourage more countries to support “the development of agroecological aquaculture and integrated agriculture-aquaculture (IAA)”.

by Senior editor, The Fish Site
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The workshop, which was held as part of Aqua 2018, was organised by CIRAD and FAO. Reflecting on the event, CIRAD’s Lionel Dabbadie was delighted by the geographical diversity of those taking part in the workshop and hopes it will spawn greater international collaboration.

“This workshop was the first time we had so many participants coming from all continents – we had many Africans, many Asians, people coming also from Latin America… trying to develop a common vision of what agroecology could be in integrated agriculture/aquaculture,” said Dabbadie.

“For CIRAD this day was very interesting, very successful and very positive because of this partnership, because of this global vision and because of this possibility to think about public policies so as to support the development of agroecological aquaculture and integrated agriculture-aquaculture,” he added.

Advancing integrated agriculture-aquaculture through agroecology: Montpellier event © FAO and CIRAD

This view was echoed by Mike Phillips, Director of Aquaculture at WorldFish, who gave a presentation on the social dimensions of IAA and agroecology. He said: “We had a great room of experts with tremendous knowledge of integrated agriculture-aquaculture but for me the key thing is to take forward some ideas and really contribute to development at the global level.”

Derun Yuan, from the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific, who spoke about IAA in Asia at the event, said: “It’s an old practice but has a lot of practical merit, including the reuse and recycling of nutrients, shared use of water and land resources. It has better stability of resilience of the system and a much lower environmental impact, so it plays an important role in the sustainable development of aquaculture in the future.”

Its benefits were also expounded by FAO’s Matthias Halwart. “The 10 principles of agroecology are very much aligned with FAO’s common vision for sustainable food and agriculture,” he explained.

These principles, according to Halwart, include promoting efficiency, recycling and enhancing biodiversity in order to fuel sustainable food production, protecting livelihoods and social systems and promoting responsible governance.

Dabbadie went on to give a prime example of a CIRAD-supported IAA initiative, pointing to a case, in Guinea, where they were encouraging more farmers to combine the production of rice and fish.

Sidiki Keita, director-general of Guinea’s National Agency of Aquaculture explained: “Pizi-riziculture [fish-riceculture] contributes to food security, while creating employment for youth, as well as helping fight emigration and deforestation.”

Such a system, pointed out Halwart, is also “nutrition sensitive – because you not only harvest the rice, which is good for carbohydrates, but also you harvest fish, which is good for the protein and micronutrients. And by doing this combination you enhance the output from a given unit of land."

Diana Adria-Mananjara, from FOFIFA in Madagascar, added: “Farmers must make some innovations, such as making higher dykes [around their paddy fields] to stop fish from escaping during floods and digging refuge canals, for when the water level drops in the fields, but the average yield of rice-fish farming the Madagascan Highlands is between 200 and 400 kg per acre, per six-month production cycle.”

Future events

Following the success of the Aqua 2018 workshop, the FAO is now looking forward to a number of other events covering agroecology and IAA, including:

  • Bangkok, 10-12 October: Green rice landscapes and the role of rice-associated aquaculture and fisheries in climate change.
  • Singapore, 15 October: International Rice Congress – a workshop with IRRI and WorldFish on nutrition-sensitive agri-aquaculture.
  • China, first week of December: International symposium on social impacts of rice-fish farming, Shanghai Ocean University.