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Diversifying livelihoods

Sep 09, 2009

Farm ponds for water, fish and livelihoods a publication of FAO highlights the need for integrated farming system to increase income. It stresses on the need for diversifying livelihood for smallholders to bring in multiple benefits and lead to farmer empowerment.

Farm ponds for water, fish and livelihoods

Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 2009.

Aquaculture has been recognised as an important component of rural development, aimed at improving food supply and generating more income for poor farming households.

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Ponds add value to farming activities. Raising fish is an obvious use for a farm pond; it adds value to the water and provides improved nutrition for farm families.

Smallholder farms ponds can be viable and sustainable enterprises with appropriate targeted assistance. Planned and implemented interventions can facilitate assistance that makes farmers self-reliant rather than dependent on the public sector, NGOs and donors.

The benefits can be:

  • Organised and better informed farmers
  • Progressive farms that are self-sustaining
  • Higher and sustained productivity
  • Marketable surpluses
  • Higher family earnings

The booklet suggests ways in which smallholder farmers can participate in the market economy and work with the private sector.

Diversification of livelihoods for smallholders that includes farm ponds involves, among others: integration of water supply to the farm, understanding local knowledge of integrated farming with several farm enterprises, and understanding the farmer’s circumstances and capabilities so they can get the highest possible benefit while minimising risks.

Women also play prominent role in farming. Training programmes for women and projects promoting them as equal partners in development besides health care is of utmost importance.

The document also highlights significant participation of all stakeholders that could go a long way in enabling policy and regulations on rural agriculture and fish production. Crucial issues that policy and regulations need to address include licensing, water use rights, land tenure, movement of products, biodiversity and environmental concerns.

Aquaculture has been a rapidly growing economic activity and smallholder farmers can benefit from this momentum with improved services.

Organisations should also try to collaborate and work with women farmers.

Organisations should seek balance between promoting smallholder fish production and attaining food security and improved livelihoods.

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