Capacity of small holder ASEAN aquaculture farmers for competitive and sustainable aquaculture strengthened

December 14, 2010 15:04

The ASEAN Foundation supported project Strengthening capacity of small holder ASEAN aquaculture farmers for competitive and sustainable aquaculture has been successfully implemented by NACA in five ASEAN countries. The project was conducted between May 2008 and August 2010 in Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It assisted ASEAN small scale aquaculture farmers improve their livelihoods by being competitive in markets and improving farm management practices to deliver quality and sustainably produced aquaculture products, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to NACA.

The project accomplished the following key results:
Capacity building needs of small scale farmers along five commodity market chains identified (Cambodia-Snakeheads, Indonesia-Grouper, Philippines-Seaweeds, Thailand-Tilapia and Vietnam-Shrimp), assessment report completed and disseminated to relevant national stakeholders.
Considering the findings of capacity building needs, training of trainers (TOT) manual developed with special focus on development and implementation of better management practices, business skills, competitiveness and farmer group organization and functioning.
TOT conducted and 18 master trainers from 5 ASEAN countries equipped with skills and necessary information to conduct national commodity specific farmer training programs.
Five sets of draft commodity specific farmer training manuals (FTM) for small-scale farmers developed with special focus on better management practices (BMP), development of business skills and the mechanics of organizing and managing farmers' associations/groups.
Farmer training programs conducted in 5 countries by national teams for 5 commodities to strengthen the capacity of farmers to organize and operate effectively self-help groups and adopt better management practices.
Final regional workshop conducted to share lessons from the methodologies and results with other ASEAN countries.
Recommendations from the workshop discussed and placed before the ASEAN Fisheries Working Group.
The following documents and reports have been produced under the project:
Inception workshop report.
Training needs assessment report and synthesis.
TOT manual.
TOT report.
Five commodity specific farmer training manuals.
Final workshop report
Project annual and final reports.
In summary, the project enabled better understanding of key capacity building needs of small-scale aquaculture for competitiveness along five commodity market chains, increased awareness and capacity of small farmers in group approach and BMP adoption, helped build capacity of servicing institutions, developed farmer training material, built awareness and capacity of small holder farmers and shared the lessons learned with all ASEAN countries. The project has helped to promote the concept of responsible and sustainable aquaculture in ASEAN. The lessons learned and experience gained strongly suggest that adoption of BMPs through group or cluster management approach is the gateway to ensuring sustainability of small scale aquaculture and meeting modern day market challenges and opportunities. The project has increased awareness about the concept of BMPs and cluster management in ASEAN.

The momentum created needs to be sustained and where possible integrated with the national activities so that the project outputs are sustained. The project results and lessons learned will be relevant for future regional programs and national initiatives. The project results can be used by ASEAN governments and regional organizations (e.g. NACA, SEAFDEC, ASEAN, ASWGFi) to widely promote the concept of BMP adoption through cluster/group management approach in the Asia Pacific region.

Considering the various issues identified, lessons learned and feedback obtained by different stakeholders at various stages during the project implementation, the following key recommendations are provided from the project:
National governments should be encouraged to develop supportive policies and strategies for setting up of farmer groups/organizations so as to ensure empowerment of small scale farmers through collective action.
National governments should be encouraged to support small scale farmers (farmer groups/clusters) to implement BMPs to comply with mandatory and voluntary standards so as to promote responsible and sustainable aquaculture.
Regional organizations (e.g. NACA, SEAFDEC, ASWGFi and ASEAN Secretariat) should consider providing necessary platform and facilitation mechanism for strengthening the capacity of small holder ASEAN farmers to remain competitive and sustainable.
A regional project supporting farmer group formation in ASEAN members and linking to major markets should be initiated as a follow up to the present project.
National demonstration sites of farmers group with good BMPs adoption should be set up for creating wider awareness and scaling up the models at the national level.
Exchange visits for farmer group across countries should be organized to share experiences.
Other commodities of ASEAN importance should be identified and more explicit BMPs covering the entire supply chain developed.
Attempts should be made to develop cluster/group certification systems (focused on food safety and sustainable aquaculture) in ASEAN to support small scale farmers.
Commodity specific FTM developed under the project should be printed in English and other ASEAN languages and disseminated widely in the region.
As a long term goal, attempts should be made to establish ASEAN Fish Farmers Regional Network Forum to exchange experience and develop regional network.

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