The MyFish team show their wares with reviewer Rod Lefroy at the MyFarm final showcase. Photo: Reianne Quilloy (from IRRI)
Common wisdom has always held that fish is good for you. But, in country where fish is almost as much of a staple as rice, nutrition is of the utmost importance, as is the methods used to cultivate fisheries. More than a third of children aged under five in Myanmar are chronically undernourished – a serious health problem that has ramifications through to adulthood and family life.
The people of Myanmar depend on fish both as a major source of income and a main source of nutrition. For Xavier Tezzo, Research Programme Coordinator of MyFarm partner WorldFish, these two facts are the most important underlying features of MyFish.
But despite Myanmar being in the top 10 global fish-producing nations, Dr Tezzo says, “There was very little known about fisheries before MyFish”.
The project has helped strengthen the country’s research and development institutions, as well as the Myanmar Government’s Department of Fisheries when it comes to improving productivity.
Most of the fish consumed or sold are sourced from the country’s wide network of rivers and flood plains, and most locals prefer freshwater species.
“However, the country’s natural water bodies have suffered immensely from the combined effects of economic and demographic growth, and there is growing evidence of a reduction in the catch,” he says.
The MyFish project has been devoted to improving aquaculture methods and outputs, and promoting tailored but low-cost technologies to improve productivity. The process has involved hundreds of farmers in the Ayeyarwady Delta, many of whom have seen an average productivity increase of 10-40 per cent.
“But the impact goes beyond the project,” Mr Tezzo says.
“Modalities and technologies developed under MyFish have been recently replicated through other development interventions in Myanmar, notably the MyCulture project that aims to scale these technologies to 10,000 households by 2019, boosting incomes, food and nutrition for 40,000 people.”