The WorldFish Center has started introducing Integrated Agriculture-Aquaculture (IAA) farming practices to help farmers get much more out of their land while at the same time increasing food security.

By Julio Yap., Jr.

Under the integrated farming system, the WorldFish Center said farmers should set aside a small area of their land for fish farming. Such farms are more sustainable, productive, and profitable than traditional farms that rely on slash-and-burn cropping, it added.

Integrated farming allows farmers to produce around 1,500 kilograms of fish per hectare each year, providing high-quality protein for their families and giving them a source of income they never had before. WorldFish said the net income of those who integrate aquaculture into their farms exceeds that of nonadopters by about 60 percent. Their farms are also 18 percent more productive during times of drought, increasing farm resilience and food security.

Simple and Low Cost

According to WorldFish, the techniques to be adapted are simple and low-cost. Fish are fed with corn bran and household leftovers, while manure from goats, chickens, and other farm animals help fertilize the ponds. In addition to using water from the ponds to irrigate corn fields and vegetables in their garden during the dry season, farmers can also cultivate cash crops like bananas around the banks of their ponds.

Pond sediments can be great fertilizers, and WorldFish research has shown that replacing inorganic fertilizers with pond sediments in corn fields is effective in boosting productivity. Farmers need only to apply pond sediments once a year to get results.

WorldFish said that during times of drought, farmers can produce vegetables using the residual moisture at the bottom of the pond or use pond water for emergency irrigation of seedling nurseries. During the years with normal rainfall, integrated farming systems can produce fish and vegetables that are of higher nutrient quality and are more marketable.

Working to Help Farmers Improve Their Lot

WorldFish is an international, non-profit research organization which harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. Utilizing its scientific expertise, its networks and partnerships, and an innovative “research in development” approach, WorldFish increases the productivity, sustainability, and resilience of fisheries and aquaculture, and improves the lives of the poor people who rely on them.

By 2025, WorldFish, together with its donors and partners, is expected to have improved the lives of about 27 million people. The WorldFish Center said that it strives to achieve large-scale, environmentally sustainable, increased supply, and access to fish at affordable prices for poor consumers in developing countries.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2015 issue.