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Role of Aquaculture in Food Security & Nutrition

Shivam Dwivedi
Shivam Dwivedi
Fish Farming
Fish Farming

Aquaculture can be defined as the breeding and harvesting of aquatic organisms in both coastal and inland areas. It is probably the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world and contributing one-third of global food fish production. This sector includes over 200 fish species located within freshwater, marine and brackish water environments. 

But long term mismanagement of this sector has led to the over- exploitation of wild fish resources, reducing available stocks and creating further dependency on aquaculture sector to satisfy the demand. Over the last two decades, the annual growth rate of this sector has reached as much as 8 percent. But due to continuously rising demands due to population growth, it will be a challenge for the sector to maintain the current growth rate without any structural and governance reforms.

Importance of Aquaculture: 

Due to its numerous benefits, aquaculture is considered as a possible sustainable solution for food security and increased dietary nutrition in developing regions. Let’s discuss it below: 

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2. Fish is also rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. According to the FAO, over 1 billion people across the world depend on fish as their primary source of animal protein. Around the world, average annual fish consumption is 16.1 kg per capita. 

  • In the last 30 years, animal protein consumption per capita in developing countries has increased sharply and it is almost doubled, as a direct result of technology advancement in aquaculture. 

  • In developing countries, those living in poverty and are from the lower socio- economic households are unable to access sufficient nutritional food to ensure their health and wellbeing. Their budgets are unable to include meat or fruit and vegetables. Therefore, fish particularly produced through aquaculture, is commonly cheaper and fulfills the dietary needs of people.

Food Security:

  • The nutritional benefits of fish consumption have a positive link to increased food security and decreased poverty rates in developing states. Fisheries play an important role in the world food economy through its contribution to overall food supplies for the general population. In low-income food deficient countries, they make up 22% of animal protein consumption overall. In coastal areas and around major river systems across the world, the dependence on fish is usually higher. 

  • As poverty is often worst among rural populations, aquaculture provides an opportunity to diversify income and protect against market variations in the prices of agricultural products. This integrated system of using agricultural land to raise fish, enhances potential yield rates per annum. Diversification also enhances the land productivity, by utilizing farm by-products as aquaculture feed and the water from aquaculture sites as a means of irrigating crops.

  • It is advised, commercial aquaculture can contribute significantly to food security, providing employment and income generation to those in developing countries. Furthermore it facilitates a reliable supply of affordable aquatic food products with greater access to markets across the developing and developed world.

Reports indicate the global demand for fish production will continue to rise over the next decade, driven predominately by increasing populations and urbanization in developing states. Considering fisheries as the fastest developing food-producing sector in the world, aquaculture is recognized as a possible sustainable solution for food security and increased dietary nutrition across the world. According to Jacques Cousteau:

“We must plant the sea and herd its animals…using the sea as farmers instead of hunters. That is what civilization is all about- Farming replacing Hunting”.

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