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Title: Advancing Aquaculture Systems in Nepal for more Social and Environmental Sustainability
Theme: Environmental Management for Sustainable Aquatic Resources Use
Lead US University: University of Michigan
Lead Host Country University: Agriculture and Forestry University
Nepal is a poor country; most residents are, at best, educated at the level of primary schooling, and many are undernourished or even malnourished. As a result of this poverty, most planning documents produced by the government, as well as outside organizations, concentrate on human health and nutrition as the main focus for future development of aquaculture in this region. This project builds on previous AquaFish Innovation Lab work to improve food security and nutrition for rural communities in Nepal through four continuing investigations on small-scale aquaculture, outreach programs for rural farmers and their families, and expanding school ponds for education of rural youth. To improve productivity of production systems without increasing inputs, researchers investigate polyculture of carp with Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and sahar (Tor putitora). Additionally, the project explores ways to enhance periphyton growth in aquaculture ponds. Increased periphyton, as it removes excess nutrients from water, could decrease negative environmental effects of aquaculture while augmenting production of periphyton feeders, such as rohu, catla, and common carp. Researchers also focus on enhancing the production of native fish species, with particular attention to sahar, an economically important, high-valued indigenous fish species in Nepal. By incorporating sahar in on-farm trials for improving culture techniques, researchers hope to expand seed production, a major bottleneck to aquaculture development in Nepal. Researchers are inquiring about the sources of aquaculture information for local households and if/how that information changed household aquaculture.
Current Research (2016 - 2018)
The primary focus of AquaFish Innovation Lab 2013-2015 work in Nepal was to improve food security and nutrition for rural communities through a suite of investigations on small-scale aquaculture. The incorporation of highly nutritious, small indigenous species (SIS) into polyculture systems was studied as a viable means to increase food production for poorer households. The AquaFish Innovation Lab research team evaluated the success of household ponds in increasing fish consumption by women and children in poor communities and assessed the resulting nutritional improvements in rural families. The project also focused on enhancing the production of native fish species, with particular attention to the cool-water species called Sahar. By incorporating Sahar in on-farm trials for improving culture techniques, researchers intended to expand seed production to reach more regions of the country. Other indigenous species, including stinging catfish, were also included in the study.