17. The sustainability of aquaculture as a farm enterprise in Rwanda.
J. of Applied Aquaculture, 1, (2), 1991, pp. 37-62
The objective of this article is to identify correlates of self-sufficient practice of fish culture by Rwandan farmers. It focuses on the degree to which fish farmers have achieved autonomous confidence in growing tilapia and on their relative willingness to forego dependence on government services.
Data were obtained from a sample of active Rwandan fish farmers randomly selected from project rolls.
Fish culture is one of many diverse efforts to increase food production and food security by producing a much-needed protein crop.
Although first introduced by Belgian colonialists in the 1950's, in the past decade fish culture has experienced a renaissance in Rwanda.
Beginning in 1983, the Rwanda National Fish Culture Project has assisted farmers with the upgrading of their ponds and identified the Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, as a species suitable for the high-evaluation, cool-water environment. Average annual yield among project participants was raised from an initial annual of 300 kg/ha to 1,550 kg/ha.
The purpose of the USAID Rwanda Fish Culture Project was to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in the development of an Aquaculture Extension
Service to provide technical assistance to Rwandan farmers. In its seven years of operation, the project has established four fish stations, trained over 60 extension agents, and helped establish over 1,150 private ponds. Aquacultural extension representatives assist farmers with pond construction, fish production, and related activities.
A tilapia production system has been implemented by farmers, utilizing readily-available inputs to grow fingerlings to market-sized fish.
Nearly 20,000 farmers and family members are associated with the project.
Most respondents planned new ponds; most felt capable of doing without extension assistance; and very few reported conflicts with other enterprises. When extensionists visited more frequently, farmers attented to their ponds more frequently. Wealthier farmers were less happy with the technical assistance they received. Women gave the male extension representatives lower helpfulness ratings. The results showed the advanced degree to which farmers have grasped the technical aspects of fish culture and their relatively favorable perceptions of the extension assistance.
The survey responses suggest that farmers expect to continue growing fish. Many of the factors that affect the independent practice of fish farming depend on the government and are beyond farmer control.
Several contextual factors not measured in this study affect the prospects of aquaculture in Rwanda, regardless of its ecological, socioeconomic, or nutritional merits. The commitment of the Rwandan government may shift to other priorities, not the least of which is threats to national security. Donor priorities about environmental and natural resource issues may induce reallocations of scarce internal funds. The financial condition of the country may disrupt the payment of salaries of fail to provide sufficient resources to recruit and train additional staff or replacements. The extension administration may fail to allocate sufficient travel funds for the moniteurs. Farmers have little way of knowing or understanding the larger national questions about the direction of agricultural policy or the status of foreign exchange and the need to redirect spending to produce export crops.
Production schemes that fail to gain the confidence and enthusiasm of farmers will generate neither food nor revenue. As a consequence, a central aspect of sustainability of fish culture is the extent to which the farmers understand and use the technology in their normal pattern of farming.
One threat to the evolution of fish culture in Rwanda is that improperly constructed ponds will undermine the success achieved by project participants. Ponds that are too small, leaky, or have continual water flows that waste nutrients and chill pond waters create negative examples that undermine the reputation of the enterprise.
To summarize, the Rwandan farm data showed only limited connections between the sustainability indicators and the variable sets identified.
The results showed the advanced degree to which farmers have grasped the technical aspects of fish culture and their relatively favorable perceptions of extension assistance.
An important next step in the evolution of aquaculture in Rwanda is to identify spontaneous emulators and provide the necessary corrective assistance to assure the proper realization of fish culture. It also will be important to understand why some farmers did not undertake aquaculture and others turned pond land to other uses.
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Asia, Malaysia, aquaculture, prawns, crawfish, ponds, rice production, aquatic macrophytes, grass carp, water quality
GRANADOS, A.E. et al.
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