- Saifuddin Rana provides advice and consulting services to aquatic food producers through FishBooth, both physically and virtually.
- Through FishBooth, Rana supplies safe and high-quality aquaculture inputs throughout Bangladesh to address any safety concerns of the aquatic foods produced for both the domestic and international markets.
- He hopes the government and corporate sector will work together to increase youth engagement to ensure the sustainability of the aquatic foods sector in Bangladesh.
Youth are the future of aquatic food systems.
A 2021 report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security acknowledges the importance of youth participation in the transformation of food systems and the need to invest time and effort to engage them. However, many challenges remain and youth need to overcome multiple barriers to become involved in aquatic food systems.
Through this series, WorldFish features prominent youth in aquatic food systems across the supply chain, be they input suppliers, producers, processors, traders or academics, and share their successes, failures, opportunities and aspirations to inspire other youth to enter the sector.
Saifuddin Rana is a native of Bangladesh’s Chattogram. Through a platform called FishBooth, the 28-year-old offers high-quality aquatic feeds and seeds, as well as testing kits and aquatic medical products to aquatic food producers in the outlying districts of Chattogram and Bandarban. Additionally, he also provides advice and consulting services both physically and virtually.
“FishBooth is the first area-based aquaculture input and information service for aquatic food producers in Bangladesh. It is establishing new markets for high-quality aquaculture inputs where none existed previously,” said Rana.
FishBooth is one of the initiatives by WorldFish under the Feed the Future Bangladesh Aquaculture Activity (BAA) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Leveraging technology to provide faster and more cost-effective services
In addition to the physical booths serving specific regions, FishBooth is also accessible to a wider audience over the internet via a dedicated website and on social media. By leveraging technology, the inputs reach aquatic food producers quicker and at a low cost. Each transaction is transparent and eliminates intermediaries that lead to inflated costs.
“The services offered by FishBooth effectively shorten the supply chain while expanding the prospects of relevant stakeholders by building demand for high-quality aquaculture inputs,” shared Rana.
The online services also came in very handy during the COVID-19 pandemic as Rana could still provide expert advice to aquatic food producers during crucial situations despite the travel restrictions.
Providing safe and high-quality aquaculture inputs
In terms of aquaculture production, Bangladesh is considered a world leader coming in fifth behind China, Indonesia, India and Vietnam according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“I believe the aquatic foods business will become Bangladesh's most important economic contributor in the next one or two decades,” shared Rana.
Aquaculture production continues to increase with intensive aquaculture technologies gaining traction. The Bangladeshi government’s vision of a blue economy and its efforts to enhance aquatic food production in the country will propel the sector to greater heights.
Despite the rapid growth of Bangladesh’s aquaculture sector, a number of challenges remain. One of the major constraints of aquatic food producers in penetrating international markets is the stringent food safety requirements of certain regions. Aquatic food producers find it difficult to source high-quality seeds and constantly face extortion from intermediaries, particularly in remote areas.
“I push myself to come up with adequate solutions to these challenges faced by the sector to support the growth of aquaculture in Bangladesh,” explained Rana.
Through FishBooth, Rana hopes to enhance the provision of safe and high-quality aquaculture inputs throughout Bangladesh to address any safety concerns of the aquatic foods produced for both the domestic and international markets.
Sustaining the rapid growth of aquaculture in Bangladesh
Furthermore, Rana intends to support the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector in Bangladesh by providing technical assistance for the intensification of aquaculture operations to produce more aquatic foods with fewer resources.
Aquatic food producers who seek Rana’s services are taught best management practices to manage their aquatic food systems more efficiently, ultimately contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.
“When aquatic food producers combine quality inputs with expert advice, they can produce safe and high-quality aquatic foods. In addition, we involve educated young people and women in our operations. As a result, we are contributing to the development of entrepreneurs and the empowerment of women in Bangladesh's rural areas,” elaborated Rana.
Another aspect that is crucial for the sustainability of the aquaculture sector is the involvement of youth in the sector. Aquatic food systems have the potential to provide decent livelihoods and offer a pathway to solving the youth unemployment problem in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government and the corporate sector need to work together to increase youth engagement in the sector by welcoming new ideas and providing incentives for youth to start their own aquatic food production businesses.
“The youth will bring new life to the sector and ensure Bangladesh’s aquatic food systems will continue to flourish on the global stage,” said Rana.