Saline aquaculture holds potential to boost blue economy, IWMI survey suggests

Study can help create nutritional food security and secure livelihoods by improving saline aquaculture practices in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD     -   The saline aquaculture in the salinity-affected districts of Sindh and Punjab has huge potential in boosting the blue economy and sustainable livelihoods along the Indus Basin.

There is tremendous scope for saline aquaculture in Pakistan as an alternative form of livelihood for farmers dealing with increasing levels of salinity, and to address food security and malnutrition in the country. To date, there has not been a comprehensive assessment of the current state and potential of the saline aquaculture sector in Pakistan, the survey conducted by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) suggested.

In this context, IWMI Pakistan in partnership with WorldFish is implementing opportunities for saline aquaculture in Pakistan project, with funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Damien Donavan, Acting Australian High Commissioner, said, “Australia and Pakistan share common problems related to climate change, including increased dependence on poor groundwater and accelerated salinity levels. This is a collective national and global problem.

The results of the project will feed into the policy and scenario analysis of the salinity in Pakistan, as well as inform policy directions for enhancing the production of saline aquaculture in Pakistan.

IWMI Pakistan conducted a comprehensive survey of saline fish farmers across four districts from Sindh (Thatta and Badin) and Punjab (Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan). These Districts were selected in consultation with stakeholders to identify marginalized saline areas where aquaculture could be improved.

Dr Mohsin Hafeez, Country Representative, Pakistan/Regional Representative-Central Asia, IWMI, said, “66percent of Pakistan’s population is protein deficient. To address protein deficiency the advancement of fish farming is very essential. IWMI has undertaken research on saline aquaculture, where 88 percent of respondents stated difficulty in securing a nutritional meal. This study can help create nutritional food security and secure livelihoods by improving saline aquaculture practices in Pakistan.”

IWMI conducted bright spot mapping to create salinity maps for the selected areas. GIS and remote sensing were used to identify villages in collaboration with the Pakistan Council of Research on Water Resources (PCRWR) and respective fisheries departments in Punjab and Sindh.

As many as 121 fish farmers were interviewed in the four districts subsequently, the team carried out consultative workshops with all farmers at the district level to validate the result.

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