Aquaculture for all

WorldFish demonstrates how aquaculture is improving Zambians' prospects

Land-based production systems Freshwater fish Human health +5 more

A recent study by WorldFish has demonstrated how fish farming diversifies livelihoods and improves food and nutrition security in rural areas for smallholder farmers in Zambia.

Kenyan fish farmer
A rural smallholder fish farmer whose livelihood is dependent on aquaculture.

© Rahma, WorldFish

The research, which has recently been published in Agriculture & Food Security, compared households with and without fishponds, demonstrating that those engaging in fish farming experienced a noticeable enhancement in their livelihoods. These benefits extended beyond mere income generation, leading to a richer, more nutritious diet and a more resilient agricultural system.

“For the first time our study in northern Zambia shows that smallholder aquaculture can be a game-changer for local farmers,” said WorldFish researcher, Alexander Kaminski in a press release.

“By integrating fish farming into their agricultural practices, households not only diversified their income sources but also significantly improved their dietary variety and overall food security," he added.

Shakuntala Thilsted, CGIAR director of nutrition, health and food security and WorldFish global lead for nutrition and public health at the time of the research, highlighted the implications of the findings. “This study provides clear evidence that fish farming is an invaluable component in the fight against food and nutrition insecurity in Africa. It provides evidence that nutrition-sensitive homestead aquaculture can enrich diets and create sustainable farming systems that benefit entire communities.”


The study’s results revealed that food and nutrition security from aquaculture arrives via three pathways:

  1. Selling fish provides farmers with money to afford a better diet.
  2. Eating fish provides farmers with high-quality sources of protein and micronutrients.
  3. Using the pond within an integrated farming system allows for diversification into other crops.

The authors claimed that the results of this study offer a path forward for policymakers and development agencies looking to improve rural economies and nutrition in developing regions. They also said it underscores the value of looking beyond traditional agricultural methods and embracing more integrated, diversified farming approaches.

The full study can be accessed here.

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