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Growth Potential for Aquaculture in Myanmar Explored in New Projects

26 February 2016

MYANMAR - Two projects launched today in Naypyidaw will focus on promoting sustainable growth of aquaculture to improve food security, nutrition and income for communities in Myanmar's Ayeyarwady Delta and Central Dry Zone.

The WorldFish implemented project, MYCulture, funded by the Livelihoods and Funds Trust (LIFT) will target small-scale household fish producers with potential to ‘step-up’ to become commercial smallholders.

A second project, MYNutrition funded by IFAD, aims to increase production of indigenous small fish through small-scale aquaculture and community-based management of village ponds with increased stocking.

Fish is one of the most important sources of animal protein and micronutrients in Myanmar with average consumption levels estimated between 21 to over 51kg/person/yr. However, with significant levels of malnutrition in the country, these figures are likely to hide a large diversity of consumption patterns.

MYNutrition aims to improve nutrition and livelihoods of poor, rural households in Myanmar, through increased intakes of micronutrient-rich small fish and vegetables from homestead production, as well as through increased household income.

Small fish, often eaten whole, are an excellent source of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B12, as well as fatty acids and animal protein.

New USAID-funded research finds that aquaculture is positively contributing to the country’s economy by creating jobs, income and improving the health and wellbeing of the people whose lives depend on it.

The research, Aquaculture in transition: Value chain transformation, fish and food security in Myanmar, also highlights how the sector has massive potential to grow and develop further by becoming more competitive, spatially diversified and smallholder-inclusive.

Aquaculture production accounts for around 22 per cent of the total fish production volume in Myanmar and has grown significantly in the past decade, reaching 850,959 tonnes in 2010, according to government statistics provided to FAO.

This is a long way behind neighbouring Thailand and Bangladesh (about 80 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively); farmed fish already accounted for about 20 per cent of the fish consumed in both these countries by the late 1980s.

One of the most striking features of aquaculture in Myanmar is the absence of a vibrant small-scale aquaculture sub-sector.

The Department of Fisheries (DoF) and a number of NGOs post-cyclone Nargis have attempted to stimulate small-scale aquaculture development across the Ayeyarwady Delta and in some areas of the Central Dry Zone (CDZ), but with mixed results.

MYCulture will aim to improve and extend the benefits from large to small-scale producers focusing on 5,000 households directly engaged in aquaculture value chains and a further 5,000 households that will benefit indirectly via awareness raising and exposure to knowledge, sharing and learning.

MYCulture will be facilitated through the core partnership involving Network Alliance Group (NAG), PACT, Groupe de Recherches et d'Echanges Technologiques (GRET) and Department of Fisheries (DoF) as part of the R&D network the Fishery Research and Development Network (FRDN).

The announcement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between WorldFish and Myanmar’s Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development (MOLFRD) in 2014 signaling aquaculture development as a priority for the Myanmar government.

MYNutrition will adapt and pilot-test integrated aquaculture and fisheries/agriculture-nutrition linkages approaches, initially developed and practiced in Bangladesh.

TheFishSite News Desk

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