Crucial steps toward a more inclusive aquaculture

Now that President Marcos Jr. is at the helm of the Department of Agriculture (DA), there is a very high chance that aquaculture development will be included in the priority agenda of his administration. However, in order to attain inclusive growth in aquaculture, there is a need to encourage the participation of the farmers and fisherfolk.

The farmers and fisherfolk at the level of family, association, and cooperative should participate based on the following grounds:

1) The DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has a regular program on tilapia fingerlings dispersal whose recipients or beneficiaries are backyard and small-scale fish farmers.

2) The country has 5.56 million farms/holdings covering 7.19 million hectares or an average of 1.2 hectares; 38 percent of 5.56 million farms are less than one-half hectare in area. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has data on the locations of the country’s groundwater most of which are characterized by fairly extensive and productive aquifers from which water for aquaculture projects can be tapped.

3) The BFAR has developed a technology for advanced aquaculture, particularly water management: water exchange, water recycling, and circulation. The method could keep dissolved oxygen at a high level at all times to improve fish metabolism and get rid of ammonia and nitrite, which are harmful to fish, thereby allowing a stocking rate that is 25 to 50 times that of the traditional method. The smaller the pond area is, the more effective the monitoring and controlling of the fish stocks, thus ensuring the attainment of the target production.

4) The BFAR and International Rice Research Institute have developed the technology for fish farming with agriculture. One example is the construction of a rectangular pond parallel to the adjacent rectangular agricultural plot. The nutrient-rich pond water is used to fertilize and irrigate crops.

5) The BFAR has a program that provides fishery livelihood assistance.

Finally, the farmers and fisherfolk should capitalize on the abovementioned grounds and become proactive participants in undertaking groundbreaking steps toward the path to inclusive aquaculture development.

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