A Global Agricultural Research Partnership

CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems

What is an Aquatic Agricultural System?

Aquatic Agricultural Systems
are farming and fishing systems where the annual production dynamics of natural freshwater and/or coastal ecosystems contribute significantly to the household livelihood, including income and food security.

More than 700 million people depend on aquatic agricultural systems for their livelihoods, but the difficulties they face mean that a third or more live on less than US$1.25 a day. In aquatic agricultural systems, families cultivate crops, raise livestock, farm or catch fish, gather fruits and other trees crops, and utilize natural resources such as timber, reeds and wildlife.

Living in coastal zones and along river floodplains, the farmers, fishers and herders who depend upon aquatic agricultural systems are not only poor, they are also vulnerable to multiple drivers of change, notably demographic trends, climate change, sea level rise, and increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events.

They live in aquatic agricultural systems despite their vulnerability because these are highly productive systems that provide multiple opportunities for growing or harvesting food and generating income. They pursue complex, highly adaptive livelihood strategies to overcome the constraints they face and reduce vulnerability in the face of external shocks.

AAS, the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems was launched in July 2011 to improve the lives of these communities through a program of participatory action research, while establishing effective learning and partnership arrangements that can lead to impact at multiple scales.

AAS takes a new approach to agricultural research that embraces an innovative view of how to achieve development in agricultural systems.

Focus on gender
AAS is taking a transformative approach to gender. This approach involves working to understand gender roles and norms and how development interventions can be more effective within these, as well as identifying where and how these norms present obstacles to improving the lives of the poor. AAS will then engage with partners to develop and test approaches that can help change these norms.

At a global level, AAS is led by the WorldFish on behalf of CGIAR, together with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Bioversity International. A number of development NGOs that work globally played a key role AAS’s program design and are playing a central role in its implementation. AAS local and national partnerships will be centered on the Learning Hubs. See all AAS partners.

Research Themes

Bioversity International


Jalan Batu Maung, Batu Maung
11960 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia

worldfishcenter AT

PO Box 500 GPO, 10670 Penang, Malaysia

Media contact
Holly Holmes
h.holmes AT



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