Due to lack of sufficient technical knowledge and training on improved rice-fish culture which is expanding every day, many farmers are not getting optimum results in production. World Fish Center, from the start of the CSISA-BD project took the initiative to develop guideline for improved system for rice-fish culture. It was felt that there is a lack of efficient and skilled trainers and appropriate training materials.
Currently many farming households face health and economic risks because of problems in malnutrition as a result of lack of knowledge and training, improved technologies and processes in farming. From the beginning of the CSISA-BD project, the World Fish Center has initiated introduction improved practices and technologies in rural farming to address malnutrition in farming households. In order to address the problem discussed, as a part of this project it has been felt there is a lack of skilled trainers and training materials.
Increase in demand of fish from Lake Victoria region has created gaps in local fish supplies and this raises concern since there are reports of limited animal-source food consumption plus protein and micronutrients deficiencies in this region. To fill the gap, less-preferred pelagic fish species such as Mukene (Rastreneobola argentea) and by-products from filleting Nile perch (Lates niloticus), which were commonly used for animal feeds, are increasingly being minimally processed and marketed for direct human consumption.
Small fish are a common food and an integral part of the everyday carbohydraterich diets of many population groups in poor countries. These populations also suffer from undernutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies – the hidden hunger. Small fish species, as well as the little oil, vegetables and spices with which they are cooked enhance diet diversity. Small fish are a rich source of animal protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Hilsa was once abundantly available in the 100 rivers of Bangladesh. Fishermen used to catch plenty of hilsa which were sold fresh to the local and urban markets. It was a cheap fish and was affordable even to the poor. However, its population has declined significantly over the last 30 years. Such a decline in catches prompted the government of Bangladesh to declare four sites in the country's coastal rivers as hilsa sanctuaries restricting fishing during the breeding season.
People who are food and nutrition insecure largely reside in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and for many, fish represents a rich source of protein, micronutrients and essential fatty acids. The contribution of fish to household food and nutrition security depends upon availability, access and cultural and personal preferences. Access is largely determined by location, seasonality and price but at the individual level it also depends upon a person's physiological and health status and how fish is prepared, cooked and shared among household members.
Hunger and malnutrition are the world’s most devastating problems and are inextricably linked to poverty. A total of 842 million people in 2011-13, or around one in eight people in the world, were estimated to be suffering from chronic hunger, regularly not getting enough food to conduct an active life (FAO, IFAD and WFP 2013).
Increased production of mola and other small fish can be achieved through stock enhancement and sustainable management of natural wetlands. Enhanced fish production can increase consumption and provide nutritional benefits, especially for women and young children, as they suffer from high rates of malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies. Mola and other small fish, which are eaten whole, have high contents of vitamins and minerals. In recent years, there has been a reduction in fish production and biodiversity in wetland areas of Bangladesh.
Two sustainable, low-cost pond polyculture technologies have been developed to culture carps and mola in ponds, and culture carps and mola in ponds connected to rice fields. These technologies can increase total fish production from ponds. Farmers depend on carps as an income source, and mola is rich in micronutrients that can help to meet the nutritional requirements of the rural poor, particularly women and young children.
Increasing the quantity and frequency of small fish consumption can boost nutrition, health and well-being of the people of Bangladesh. Small fish are rich in micronutrients, particularly vitamin A, iron, zinc and calcium, as well as animal protein and essential fats. Small fish are highly nutritious as they are usually consumed whole. Pregnant and lactating women and young children from the age of 6 months to two years should consume small fish as they promote healthy growth and development in children and can lead to better performance at school, and at work later in life.