IRRI, WorldFish and Myanmar work together to optimize rice-fish farming productivity

IRRI, together with WorldFish and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation of Myanmar is exploring opportunities to improve the the livelihood, income, and nutrition of smallholder farmers in Myanmar by maximizing the combined productivity of rice and fish farming.

Research results conducted in Myanmar and some neighboring countries through the ACIAR-funded Rice-Fish project show that improved rice-fish farming offers a chance for farmers to produce a greater range of food and earn more income while only having minimum paddy modifications. “In Myanmar, growing fish together with rice has not affected rice yield. It has even increased farmer income by 9% in Maubin, Ayeyarwady Region, and 132% in Letpadan, Bago Region”, reports IRRI scientist Alexander Stuart.

In addition, the integrated rice-fish system produces enough incentives to discourage farmers to shift to aquaculture practices alone. Through the integrated system, they are able to reach national rice production targets while improving livelihoods of farmers and opening gender equitable employment opportunities most especially in post-harvest processing of fish.

A symposium on integrated rice-fish farming was held at Naypyitaw in August this year. It gathered over a hundred policy makers, scientists, international non-government organizations, and private sector representatives to discuss opportunities in optimizing integrated food production systems and its nutritional benefits in Myanmar and in other parts of Asia. “This activity aims to support decision-makers of land and water use reform in the region”, says IRRI senior scientist and symposium speaker Grant Singleton.

During the symposium, the participants have also crafted the “Naypyitaw Integrated Rice-Fish Agreement”. This document discusses the future steps to be taken with the local government to promote and integrate rice-fish practices in the national initiatives to achieve sustainable development goals.