In March of 2017, AquaFish Innovation Lab partners from Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam) gathered in Sauraha, Nepal, to give updates on the overall progress of research projects and to share successes and challenges related to their research, outreach, and capacity building efforts.

Researchers from the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) reported on aquaculture production challenges that they and other AquaFish Innovation Lab projects face: the high price and low quality of feed, obtaining quality seed and fry, and connecting with farmers. AquaFish Innovation Lab researchers at BAU are addressing these challenges by improving feed efficiency through nutritional conditioning of larvae and identifying gut biota for increased nutrient absorption. In order to better connect with farmers, they are organizing a nation-wide workshop involving a range of stakeholders to share results and best practices.  

AquaFish Innovation Lab researchers at Can Tho University in Vietnam and the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute in Cambodia were excited to highlight the use of their research in improving the composition of local snakehead feeds. Initial results indicate that adding Vitamin C to pelleted feeds resolved snakehead deformity issues resulting from ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) deficiency. Due to the success of this preliminary work, local feed manufacturers are now supplementing pelleted feeds with Vitamin C.

AquaFish Innovation Lab regional partners also had the opportunity to tour local research sites and facilities in Nepal. Participants visited nearby schools, where Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU) researchers worked with students and teachers to establish ponds to teach students about fish farming and the benefits of fish for household nutrition. Students shared that they enjoyed learning about how to grow fish and maintain fish ponds.

AquaFish Innovation Lab researchers from AFU are also working to reduce feed costs and increase pond water quality by enhancing carp polyculture systems with periphyton. Periphyton is a mixture of algae and microbes that live on surfaces within aquaculture ponds. Ongoing research is investigating the most suitable surfaces for periphyton growth by reaching out to farmers through workshops and testing the surfaces through on-farm trials. During the site visits, AquaFish Innovation Lab regional partners were able to engage with women’s fish farmer groups where the on-site trials are conducted and discuss women empowerment and best approaches and benefits of on-farm application.

The regional gathering in Nepal provided a way for partners to connect, generate conversation on shared challenges, and continue to build strong networks. Local AquaFish Innovation Lab researchers were able to showcase their projects and facilities, further contributing to the transfer of technology and knowledge to other nearby countries. These strong partnerships will continue to be important as regional partners also learned of the government's support of aquaculture in Nepal. The Nepalese government provided financial support for aquaculture in the country, which will support continued development moving forward.