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More evidence needed to back aquaculture's value

15 December 2017, at 7:53am

Evidence is mounting that while aquaculture is a solid means for reducing global undernutrition, more needs to be done to build the case.

So concluded participants at the recent Global Workshop on Nutrition-sensitive Fish Agri-food Systems. The event saw 150 participants from 20 countries discussing a need to shift from fish production approaches to fish agri-food systems that are more geared to nutrition-sensitive outcomes.

Participants at the workshop, including representatives of governments, UN organizations, NGOs and research institutes reflected that fish agri-food systems were not as well researched as other areas of agriculture, making informed decisions on how to invest difficult.

A fish farm in Vietnam
A fish farm in Vietnam

The event was convened by WorldFish with support from IFAD, the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia and was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, 5-8 December. It also saw an announcement that WorldFish has become an official member of the Scaling UP Nutrition (SUN) movement - which aims to improve nutrition for all, especially women and children.

Incoming WorldFish Director General, Gareth Johnstone, said: “It’s clear that a more compelling case to better understand how fish production and consumption can impact the lives of the poor needs to be made. At WorldFish, I commit to creating an enabling environment for better research and better research collaborations that will make a clearer link between fish agri-food systems and development outcomes including livelihoods and food and nutrition security.”

Shakuntala Thilsted, Research Program Leader, Value Chains and Nutrition, added: “Global reports on agriculture are produced that too often make marginal reference to fish and its contribution to livelihoods and food and nutrition security. Membership of SUN will allow us to gain more visibility for fish as a critical means to address nutrition and health. At this workshop, I was particularly pleased to see strong statements of support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IFAD, JICA, USAID and the World Bank among others, in particular recognizing the importance of fish and the need to make nutrition-sensitive investments.”

Robert Bertram, Chief Scientist for USAID's Bureau for Food Security, emphasised the importance of fish for poorer households during the closing session, saying: "People recognize that fish is an especially nutritious food - this is widely understood. What is less well known is how critical fish is to the diets of the poor in many countries where we work. Using fish more comprehensively can help achieve food security that is sustainable and highly effective in advancing our nutrition goals."

Senior Editor at The Fish Site
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