Children untangle nets at the Fish Market on Lake Awasa, Ethiopia.
Photo: © David Stanley

Family Farming - The significance of aquaculture

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector worldwide, and is often practiced on small fami-ly-run farms.

At the Side Event The 2014 International Year of Family Farming in the Context of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) during the Committee on Fisheries session at the beginning of June 2014, Simon Funge-Smith, FAO Region-al Officer Asia and the Pacific, talked about the importance of integrated aquaculture for the entire family. His presentation is available for downloading. These types of family operations are very often found in Asia and are also being promoted through NGOs in some countries of Africa where they are showing positive results.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector worldwide and the majority of operations (ca. 90 %) are in developing and partner countries, mostly on small family-operated farms. The ponds, are mostly located near the home (backyard farming), and are a source of food and income. The entire family is involved in caring for these very simple aquaculture systems (harvesting the fish, feeding - e.g. with kitchen waste).

In Malawi in particular, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has seen positive results from combining agricultural production processes with aquaculture. Inclu-sion is a significant feature of integrated agri-aquaculture (IAA), meaning that the entire family shares the benefits. Research findings prove that the availability and consumption of protein-rich foods is higher in integrated family farms of this type. IAA farmers earn double that of oth-er famers and their families consume up to triple the amount of fresh fish and twice as much fresh meat. The good nutrient composition of fish as source of animal protein and important micronutrient has a major impact on food security, particularly alleviating malnutrition and undernourishment.  The contribution such family fish-breeding activities on mixed farms make to securing income and food for the whole family is often overlooked or undervalued.


Kathrin Steinberg

Mark Prein