Aquaculture Improvement and Extension Project, Laos
Agriculture, forestry and fishery were the major industries in Laos. Yet the majority of the people in the project pilot areas, Oudomxay, Sayabouly, Savannakhet, Saravan were still facing poverty because of food insecurity, low livelihood technologies, and a poor governmental extension system. Particularly in the fishery sector, the supply of fish, an important resource of protein, was insufficient because freshwater fish farming technologies were inadequate. Fish farmers had limited opportunities to acquire knowledge on aquaculture and on household management. Additionally, the extension system was not fully functional, and skills of extension workers were inadequate. Given this background, the government of Laos requested Japan to support the development of aquaculture technologies through the reinforcement of the extension system.
The overall goal of the project was to achieve poverty reduction and food security in the target area. The project aimed at the development and innovation of freshwater aquaculture technologies and the extension of these new/improved technologies. For technology development, the project worked with pilot fish farmers to build on their knowledge and experiences. For technology extension, the project took a dual approach: training provision through the government extension system and the farmer-to-farmer approach.
The project examined several new technologies such as environmentally-friendly aquaculture, low-cost technologies using local materials, and technologies to increase productivity and to decrease mortality. The project verified the effectiveness of these technologies and successfully disseminated them through farmers’ networks and the government extension system. The project also contributed to increasing the incomes of small-scale fish farmers and the supply of nutritious fish to food-insecure people.
IC Net Limited implemented the following activities: 1. Carried out a socio-economic survey in the first year to clarify present problems in the target areas; 2. Designed experiments for technology development and implemented activities to resolve locality-specific problems; 3. Integrated the results of the activities into training held at pilot project sites. Extension workers from local government studied how to solve problems at their own pilot sites and support fish farmers in the field; 4.Facilitated the transfer of knowledge and skills from fish farmers who received training to other fish farmers nearby. The training provided opportunities for fish farmers to establish networks among themselves to work together to disseminate the new/improved technologies. These networks succeeded in several communities where common water resources were utilized; 5. Helped extension workers monitor the effects of technology extension to pilot sites and take necessary actions based on the monitoring results.