Let's change the food security conversation on aquaculture

Aquaculture — an untapped solution to global food security?

In many parts of the developing world, aquaculture has been touted for quite some time as an excellent way to advance food security, especially in communities lacking a sustainable source of animal protein in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.

But despite fish farming’s obvious potential to help advance food security around the globe, aquaculture has so far attracted far less interest from the international development community — especially compared to farming on land. Up until now, fish farming programs are usually implemented by homesteads instead of more commercially oriented producers linked to the supply chains that may allow them to feed not only their communities, but also people living further away, especially in cities.

Why is that so, and what can we do to change it?

The problem is that the conversation so far has been more about the sustainability of the resource (producing more fish), rather than the purpose it serves (creating a source of nutritious animal protein and long-term livelihoods for the fish farmers), according to Stephen Hall, director general of WorldFish, a Malaysia-based international nonprofit dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture.

Hall cited the example of how in the 1970s and 80s, donors put funds into promoting fish farming in Africa but focused on teaching people the trade instead of showing them how to develop it into a profitable business — and decades later, only in Egypt does aquaculture contribute substantially to food security.

Now, Hall suggested, the landscape is changing. With urbanization comes a growing demand for fish and seafood, and there is an enormous opportunity to develop the industry in Africa and other parts of the world.

Click on the Google Hangout above to hear Hall’s case for farmed fish over other sources of animal protein, and what development stakeholders can do to better support the dialogue between governments and the private sector necessary for aquaculture — as well as restoring global wild-capture fisheries — to truly become an integral part of the global food security agenda.

Want to learn more? Check out Feeding Development's campaign site and tweet us using #FeedingDev.

Feeding Development is an online conversation hosted by Devex in partnership with ACDI/VOCA, Chemonics, Fintrac, GAIN, Nestlé and Tetra Tech to reimagine solutions for a food-secure future from seed and soil to a healthy meal.

About the author

  • Carlos stamaria 400x400 v2

    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.