Bangladesh is experiencing a quiet revolution in its domestic fish farming sector, with significant gains among all the players in the industry, according to a latest study of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Debunking the traditional view that fish farming in Bangladesh is mainly subsistence oriented, the study shows that the market for farmed fish grew by a dramatic 25 times in three decades, and that among fish farmers, 75.0 percent of them sell fish commercially.
There has been an equally rapid shift among consumers eating fish from a home pond to purchasing farmed fish from the market, the study noted.
"What really surprised me about these findings was the extent of the growth in many sectors, not just in production but also in many off-farm segments, such as rural and urban traders, input dealers and feed mills," said Ricardo Hernandez, research coordinator at IFPRI and lead author of the study.
He said the rapid growth has been spawned by increased demand, improvements in technology, communications and infrastructure; and investments by millions of farm households and small and medium enterprises.
The researcher said that the government played an important role in infrastructure investment such as investment in fish seed production, electricity and roads.
"There has been a proliferation of feed mills, hatcheries, farmers and traders, with rapid increase of purchased seed and feed, rapid increase in the use of chemicals, increase in the use of hired labor, and rapid increase in investment in agriculture equipment," said Hernandez.
Noting significant improvement in marketing of fish the study said that rural fish farmers used to sell their fish to local traders just over a decade ago, but they are now selling two-thirds of their product to large wholesalers based in towns and cities.
With the increased fish production, both rural and urban poor households have also been able to improve their diets by consuming more protein and micronutrients from a source other than rice, the study said.
A report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) earlier ranked Bangladesh forth in fish production in the world.
The government has targeted to make the country self-reliant in fish production by 2019, with producing 42 lakh tonnes of fishes from current level of nearly 38 lakh tonnes.