Title: Enhancing Aquaculture Production Efficiency, Sustainability, and Adaptive Measures To Climate Change Impacts In Bangladesh

Theme: Environmental Management for Sustainable Aquatic Resources Use

Lead US University: North Carolina State University

Lead Host Country University: Bangladesh Agricultural University

Partner Institutions:

  • Bangladesh: Khulna University, Patuakhali Science and Technology University, Shushilan NGO

Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, has high rates of poverty and widespread malnourishment, particularly among women and children. Sustainable aquaculture in Bangladesh is one solution for increasing food security, enhancing dietary nutrition, and improving the economic livelihoods for its poorest citizens. However, technical, environmental, and economic barriers limit aquaculture production in the country. This project, through five investigations, builds on past AquaFish work to address such barriers by developing technologies for enhancing aquaculture production efficiency, intensification, and sustainability to improve household income and nutrition, particularly for low-income farming households. With the hope of increasing feed efficiency and reducing associated costs, researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of nutritional conditioning and characterize the respective changes in gut microbial communities and nutrient absorption in tilapia. To address environmental and economic concerns for the existing farming industries of shrimp and prawn, researchers will continue to assess the potential for farming Pangasius catfish in brackish (hyposaline) waters in regions traditionally reliant solely upon shrimp farming. Researchers will also examine a novel polyculture/land-farming strategy, culturing Mola (Amblypharyngodon mola) with prawns and using pond muds as fertilizer to grow fresh vegetables on unflooded gher-dykes. Lastly, researchers will evaluate the effects of reducing feed and investigate polyculture technology, particularly in indigenous, air-breathing fishes such as Shing and Koi (nutrient rich and hardy fish), to enhance incomes and dietary nutrition, while reducing environmental impacts. To maximize the adoption and impact of improved technologies, researchers will hold a series of workshops and trainings, complemented by the distribution of outreach materials.

Current Research

  • Nutritional Conditioning During Larval Development to Improve Feed Efficiency and Identify Beneficial Gut Flora in Tilapia - 16SFT02NC (Work Plan)
  • Tilapia and Koi (Climbing Perch) Polyculture with Pangasius catfish in Brackish (Hyposaline) Waters of Southern Bangladesh - 16IND02NC (Work Plan)
  • Better Management Practices for Mola-Prawn-Carp Gher Farming Integrated with Pond Dyke Cropping for Increased Household Nutrition and Earnings of Rural Farmers in Southwest Bangladesh - 16HHI01NC (Work Plan)
  • Advancing Semi-Intensive Polyculture of Indigenous Air-Breathing Fishes, Koi and Shing, with Major Indian Carps for Enhancing Incomes and Dietary Nutrition while Reducing Environmental Impacts - 16MNE01NC (Work Plan)
  • Dissemination of AquaFish Innovation Lab Technologies for Improving Food Production Efficiency and Livelihoods of the People of Bangladesh - 16MNE02NC (Work Plan)

AquaFish 2013-2015 research and capacity building in Bangladesh built on past program work to develop technologies for enhancing aquaculture production efficiency, intensification, and sustainability to improve household income and nutrition through seven investigations. One component of the project incorporated reduced-feeding protocols and polyculture technology to improve production culture efficiencies, particularly in indigenous, air-breathing fishes such as Shing and Koi (nutrient rich and hardy fish). Research on feed conversion rates for tilapia was conducted to lay the groundwork for the development of probiotic supplements for improving fish growth. To address environmental and economic concerns for the existing shrimp farming industry, research examined "Best Management Practices" as well as assessed the potential for farming Pangasius catfish in brackish (hyposaline) waters in regions traditionally reliant solely upon shrimp farming. A novel polyculture/land-farming strategy was tested, culturing Mola (Amblypharyngodon mola) with prawns using pond muds as fertilizer to grow fresh vegetables on unflooded gher-dykes. With a focus on women-led households in coastal Bangladesh, particularly those reliant on the sale of mudcrab (Scylla serrata) as a sole source of income, a value-chain analysis on mud-crab farming was conducted to identify how this industry can be further developed for their benefit. 

Research (2013-2015)

  • Economic and environmental benefits of reduced feed inputs in the polyculture of tilapia and major Indian carps - 13SFT04NC (Final Report)
  • Pulsed Feeding Strategies to Improve Growth Performance, Gastrointestinal Nutrient Absorption Efficiency, and Establishment of Beneficial Gut Flora for Tilapia Pond Culture - 13SFT05NC (Final Report)
  • Novel Approach for the Semi-Intensive Polyculture of Indigenous Air-Breathing Fish With Carps for Increasing Income and Dietary Nutrition While Reducing Negative Environmental Impacts - 13MNE01NC (Final Report)
  • The Culture Potential of Pangasius catfish in Brackish (Hyposaline) Waters of the Greater Barisal Regions in Southern Bangladesh - 13BMA02NC (Final Report)
  • Integrated Mola Fish and Gher/Freshwater Prawn Farming With Dyke Cropping to Increase Household Nutrition and Earnings for Rural Farmers in Southwest Bangladesh - 13HHI03NC (Final Report)
  • Production of Nutrient-rich Small Fish Mola and Freshwater Prawn Using Integrated Cage-Pond Carp Polyculture for Northwest Bangladesh - 13BMA03NC (Final Report)
  • Improving Nutritional Status and Livelihoods for Marginalized Women Households in Southwest Bangladesh through Aquaculture and Value Chain Analysis - 13MER04NC (Final Report Part 1, Part 2)

North Carolina State University: Indonesia & Philippines

Project title: Improved Cost Effectiveness and Sustainability of Aquaculture in the Philippines and Indonesia


Nile Tilapia Broodstock Selection, Seed Quality and Density-Dependent Growth in the Philippines - 09QSD01NC

Feeding and Feed Formulation Strategies to Reduce Production Costs of Tilapia Culture - 09SFT04NC

Internet-Based Podcasting: Extension Modules for Farming Tilapia in the Philippines - 09TAP02NC

Improving Supply Chain Opportunities for Tilapia in the Philippines - 09MER03NC

Ration Reduction Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (milkfish-seaweed-sea cucumber) and Value-Added Products to Improve Incomes and Reduce the Ecological Footprint of Milkfish Culture in the Philippines - 09MNE02NC 

Demonstration of Sustainable Seaweed Culture and Processing in Aceh, Indonesia and the Philippines - 09FSV02NC

Impact Assessment of CRSP Activities in the Philippines and Indonesia - 09SFT06NC

Experimental Pond Unit Assessment in Bangladesh - 09BMA09NC

Value Chain Analysis of Seaweed in Aceh, Indonesia - 09MER06NC


PROJECT SUMMARY

Aquaculture in the Philippines and Indonesia is a high food security priority particularly in the light of the countries' rapidly growing populations and their continued dependence on fish protein. The incomes from family farming, however, are generally poor with 43% of small-scale tilapia farmers in Central Luzon, Philippines falling below the poverty line. The difficult socioeconomic conditions are even more pronounced for fishers in coastal regions where traditional livelihoods have been lost, and many seek transition to milkfish farming, but with some uncertainty. In Indonesia, a tsunami eliminated shrimp-farms, and the livelihoods of entire communities continue to rebuild. In the proposed studies we seek to develop and implement strategies that will improve the cost effectiveness, sustainability and income opportunities of farming fish in the Philippines and Indonesia and the subsequent livelihood of their people. A cluster of integrated investigations will assess key areas of research and outreach that form a natural extension of the activities and accomplishments of the first phase of our AquaFish CRSP. We will continue to develop methods to reduce farming costs for tilapia and milkfish, conduct an extensive supply-chain analyses to specifically address the marketing opportunities and constraints of expanding tilapia products to reach more lucrative retail supermarkets, assess the utility of integrative/polyculture systems to reduce environmental impacts of farming fish while providing additional products for market and home consumption, develop a series of short Tilapia Podcasts designed for disseminating current culture practices and cost-saving strategies to the farming community of Central Luzon, and provide training on the harvest and processing of seaweeds in the Philippines and Aceh region of Indonesia. The research and outreach activities proposed incorporate specialists from Central Luzon State University (CLSU) the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), Ujung Batee Aquaculture Center, North Carolina State University (NCSU), University of Arizona, and the United States Department of Commerce, their collaborators and the farming communities of the host countries. Nine workshops are proposed, as are a community-based training program and the involvement of over 30 students.

Tilapia and milkfish are the two most prominent finfish cultured in the Philippines. They are low trophic species whose culture is expanding rapidly both in inland and coastal regions and in a more intensive fashion. Feed is clearly one of the most costly aspects of fish farming, representing as much as 80% of total production costs for tilapia and 60-70% for milkfish. Feed wastage and the escalating cost of fishmeal in commercial diets contribute to this problem; sources are rapidly declining and demand remains high. The proposed studies aim to improve management strategies and will deliver more cost-effective formulations to reduce feed usage and costs. Controlling costs is a requisite to increasing income for small-scale farmers, while also preserving the biodiversity of bait fisheries. Limiting nutrient load from feed wastage will also help mitigate the environmental imprint of fish farming and promote its sustainability. We propose a series of studies to reduce feed costs for tilapia farmers that incorporates a combination of sub-satiation feeding; decreases in feed formulation costs through reductions in crude protein, amino acid supplementation, and replacement of fishmeal with lower cost protein sources; and use of a cheaper manufacturing process that uses pellet rather than extrusion processing. This aspect of our work features a unique synergy between a Filipino feed company, CLSU and NCSU researchers, and Luzon farmers in the Philippines.

Additional studies to reduce ration levels and integrate seaweeds and sea cucumber in the culture of milkfish are proposed to limit feed inputs and reduce the ecological imprint of milkfish culture clusters in coastal regions near where fish kills have been reported. Integrated milkfish culture systems may not only improve water and sediment quality, but will benefit farmers' incomes through the delivery of additional marketable seafood products. SEAFDEC will introduce the integrated system to the farming communities, through season-long training programs using their cages as a demonstration facility. The SEAFDEC training staff and several of the seaweed farmers recruited for this project will be women, which will foster and expand the role of women in traditionally, male-dominated fish farming. Additionally, the seasonal training program will incorporate a workshop on the processing and production of value added milkfish products geared toward women that should allow for improvements in household incomes.

The need for improved-quality tilapia seed is expected to triple over the next decade. To enhance reliability and production of high quality seed and limit the risks of entry of new farmers, we will undertake studies to establish practical methods for selecting broodstock with high fecundity that can be used by hatcheries in the Philippines and elsewhere. We will utilize appetite, eye color, and social behavior patterns in tilapia to select broodstock with low susceptibility to stress and higher yield of robust fry. This investigation should provide practical technologies for selecting individuals for breeding programs as well as for pairings to improve seed production. We will also evaluate the density-dependent stress and growth response of tilapia, and quantify hormones mediating the responses in hapa and tank enclosures frequently used by a growing number of farmers that intensively culture tilapia in the Philippines and USA. These studies build upon our current effort to develop suitable biomarkers of growth and stress that can be used to optimize conditions for tilapia culture, toward addressing the USAID priority of establishing suitable biotechnologies for the advancement of aquaculture.

There is currently a strong desire to expand tilapia culture in the Philippines to meet the growing demand for fish products in the domestic retail supermarket and fast-food chains. Toward this goal we propose a study to evaluate and develop an efficient tilapia supply chain to foster the development of viable fast food and supermarket purchases of tilapia from small-scale producers. We anticipate that this work will facilitate development of domestic tilapia markets that can expand tilapia farming, increase sales, improve farm incomes, and increase small farmer participation.

In Indonesia and the Philippines, the polyculture of seaweeds in shrimp and fish ponds has proven to be popular in several coastal communities based on our initial work in the first phase of the AquaFish CRSP project. In phase I of our AFCRSP we provided training on seaweed polyculture and several farming communities embraced this new practice, but wish to learn more about how to handle and process the seaweed produced. We will conduct a series of workshops in communities of Aceh, Indonesia and the Philippines to assist farmers on management, harvest and processing of seaweeds. We will assist farmers on how to process their raw seaweed into more valuable semi- processed forms for sale to commercial agar buyers and for use in making candy and desserts for local markets, the latter providing an option for home businesses, especially those operated by women.

Finally, we propose to further develop Tilapia Podcasting, following our successful launch of the first podcast at CLSU. This emerging technology is a powerful approach to information distribution that has been met with considerable enthusiasm in the Philippines and the tilapia community. Following its recent link to a trackable server at NCSU we found the Podcast was uploaded over 100 times in the past month, alone. In the proposed studies we will train a CLSU student and produce 8 short tilapia-related podcasts with information on tilapia culture methodology, new production technology, cost-saving feeding practices, etc. These podcasts will be laid out on a CLSU, AquaFish CRSP, and NCSU website where they will be fully accessible by Central Luzon farmers and the worldwide tilapia community.

Project Vision
The long-range goals of our work will be to continue to tackle the excessive production costs associated with commercial feeds in finfish aquaculture. We anticipate continuation of refinements of feed strategies and formulations for tilapia and milkfish that should directly benefit farmers and their capacity to improve incomes, including the production of value added "organic" products that might include algal enrichment with omega-3 fatty acids. We also anticipate developing additional culture systems and methods to reduce environmental impacts of fish farming, possibly including integrative culture systems using bivalves and water reuse technologies to limit nutrient outflow in waterways. The retail and export market demand for tilapia and milkfish continue to grow, and we hope to develop the requirements and recommendations needed for small farmers to sell products to domestic retail, and eventually export markets. This endeavor has only begun, but may show the strongest promise for increasing incomes of farmers. Other areas of research might include enhanced selective breeding of tilapia for all-male production and production of superior culture traits. Because of the wide popularity of tilapia we anticipate the management strategies applied to its production in the Philippines will be applicable to addressing similar constraints in other underdeveloped countries in Africa, Asia, and Central/South America. Our contributions - because of continued publication in respectable international journals and our podcasting efforts - are likely to reach far beyond the Southeast Asian region. We feel, once the management strategies and research capabilities for sustaining and expanding aquaculture are established that our mission will have been completed.

North Carolina State University: Indonesia & Philippines

Project title: Improved Cost Effectiveness and Sustainability of Aquaculture in the Philippines and Indonesia


Broodstock Seed Quality and Fingerling Production Systems Rearing for Nile tilapia in the Philippines - 07QSD01NC

Feeding Reduction Strategies and Alternative Feeds to Reduce Production Costs of Tilapia Culture - 07SFT02NC

Internet-based Extension Podcasts for Tilapia Farmers in the Philippines - 07TAP02NC

Alternative Feeding Strategies to Improve Milkfish Production Efficiency in the Philippines - 07SFT03NC

Training in Sustainable Coastal Aquaculture Technologies in Indonesia and the Philippines - 07MNE02NC

Implications of Export Market Opportunities for Tilapia Farming Practices in the Philippines - 07MER04NC


PROJECT SUMMARY

Aquaculture in the Philippines and Indonesia is a high food security priority particularly in the light of the countries’ rapidly growing populations and their continued dependence on fish protein. The incomes from family farming, however, are generally poor with 43% of small-scale tilapia farmers in Central Luzon, Philippines, falling below the poverty line. The difficult socioeconomic conditions are even more pronounced for fishers in coastal regions where traditional livelihoods have been lost, and many seek transition to milkfish farming. In Indonesia, a tsunami eliminated shrimp farms, and the livelihoods of entire communities must be rebuilt.    

The project will develop and implement strategies to improve the cost effectiveness and sustainability of fish farming in the Philippines and Indonesia, and subsequently improve the livelihood of their people. Project investigations will assess key areas of research and extension
that include methods to reduce farming costs for tilapia and milkfish, a marketing analysis to
address the opportunities and constraints of expanding tilapia culture to fillet production for the
export markets, development of a tilapia podcast as an emerging extension tool for the farming
community of Central Luzon, and integration of polyculture for sustainable aquaculture in the
Philippines and the tsunami-devastated Aceh region of Indonesia.  Extension activities will
provide five workshops and train approximately 30 students. The proposed project investigations
incorporate specialists from Central Luzon State University, the Southeast Asian Fisheries
Development Center (SEAFDEC AQD), Ujung Batee Aquaculture Center, North Carolina State
University, University of Arizona, their collaborators, and the farming communities of the host
country.  
 
Tilapia and milkfish are the two most prominent finfish species cultured in the Philippines
throughout inland and coastal areas. Fish feed is one of the most costly aspects of fish farming,
representing as much as 80% of total production costs for tilapia. This emanates in part from feed
wastage and the rising cost of fishmeal in commercial diets, whose sources are in rapid decline
and in high demand. Studies aim to develop better management strategies to reduce feed usage
and costs, a requirement for controlling production costs and increasing income for small-scale
farmers. Limiting nutrient load from feed wastage will also help mitigate the environmental
imprint of fish farming and promote its sustainability. Research will continue previous work that
showed delayed or reduced feeding schedules can limit feed usage for growout of freshwater
tilapia and milkfish in brackish and marine waters, without significantly altering yield. Tilapia
farmers are excited by this research and several will participate in the studies.  Least cost
formulation and feed manufacturing technology will be used to limit the usage of fishmeal by
development of tilapia feeds formulated from locally available Philippine ingredients. To address
the USAID priority area of establishing suitable biotechnologies for the advancement of
aquaculture, a study will be conducted on a highly promising protein as an instantaneous
biomarker of growth rate in both tilapia and milkfish. This technology does not involve genetic
modification of any organisms, but rather is a new tool for rapidly testing specific parameters of
tilapia and milkfish performance for use by scientists and industry personnel.
 
Due to the projected increase in demand for tilapia and expansion into the export market, the
need for seed of reliable quality is expected to triple.  Consistent, high quality seed must be
available at reasonable costs to increase both the profitability of farming and reduce the risks for
entry of new farmers. One investigation is aimed at improving hatchery technologies for tilapia
seed production. This study will assess broodstock age relative to fecundity, and also ascertain the
relative effectiveness of three types of fry/fingerling rearing systems on tilapia growout. In
collaborative work with the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) Foundation protein.
The incomes from family farming, however, are generally
 
International, experiments will use an extremely popular GIFT strain of tilapia seedstock that has
been selectively bred for high performance and whose lineage has been distributed throughout
the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
There is currently a strong desire to expand tilapia culture in the Philippines for the production of
fillets for export markets and for supermarket retail. This would both increase income for farmers
and promote further expansion of tilapia culture in the Philippines. Toward the goal of
developing a viable export market for tilapia, a study will determine requirements for export
opportunities of tilapia in the Philippines, assess implications of export markets on production
systems, and provide recommendations for facilitating the development of a Philippines export
market of tilapia.
 
In Indonesia and the Philippines, interest has heightened in diversifying aquaculture crops,
following the realization that intensive shrimp farming practices contributed to the deterioration
of water quality in the mangrove coastal habitat.  Extension activities proposed in this project will
utilize the expertise of scientists at SEAFDEC AQD and Central Luzon State University in the
Philippines to assess, train, and help implement polyculture of tilapia, shrimp, and seaweed as a
more sustainable and environmentally benign form of aquaculture in both Indonesia and the
Philippines. Polyculture workshops in Indonesia will assist in rebuilding tsunami-devastated
communities with more sustainable forms of agribusiness and those in the Philippines will
complement ongoing USAID mission work geared to improving sustainable fisheries and the
environment under the Fisheries Improved for Sustainable Harvest (FISH) project.
 
Podcasting will be developed as an extension technology. This powerful approach to information
distribution has been used barely, if at all, in the aquaculture industry and is virtually nonexistent
in the Philippines. Internet-based communication methods are increasing sharply in popularity, as
is access for the people of developing countries that include the Republic of the
Philippines. Podcasts as a mode of communicating news and technical developments are the wave
of the future, and a tilapia podcast will be launched at Central Luzon State University,
Philippines, so that farmers can gain the latest practical news on tilapia farming.  
 
Long-range goals will focus on the excessive production costs associated with commercial feeds in
finfish aquaculture. Continuation of refinements of feed strategies and formulations for tilapia
and milkfish should directly benefit farmers and their capacity to improve incomes. Research and
implementation of water reuse technologies in tilapia culture should limit nutrient outflow in
waterways. An evaluation of a milkfish-like, progressive culture strategy to provide continuous
rather than periodic harvest of tilapia seems a high priority as this could limit seasonal
fluctuations in market supply and prices.  This culture strategy could also reduce the need for
application of chemicals and provide a more “organic” product for the people. Other areas of
research could include better development of technologies for all-male tilapia production, which
would limit the need for hormone-based, sex-reversal feed applications that are widely used but
also necessary for the tilapia industry. Other goals include development of hatchery/nursery
management technologies for both tilapia and milkfish to maintain stable seed supplies and the
growth sustainability of both industries. Tilapia is the focus as it represents one of the highest
sources of protein consumed by the world’s population. Because of the wide popularity of tilapia,
the management strategies applied to tilapia production in the Philippines will be applicable to
addressing similar constraints in other underdeveloped countries in Africa, Asia, and
Central/South America.