Study tour to Bangladesh fosters knowledge-sharing on rice-fish systems

Rice-fish systems are common in many South and Southeast Asian countries as well as some areas of Africa. The systems are diverse, spanning capture fisheries and aquaculture, with fish and rice growing concurrently in rice fields and canals or, alternatively, fish raised between rice crops.

FISH has developed several approaches to increase fish production and productivity in rice-fish systems, notably in Bangladesh and Cambodia, both FISH focal countries. In Bangladesh, where estimates suggest that the country’s potential rice-fish production system encompasses 2–3 million hectares of land , culturing carp species and mola, a micronutrient-rich small indigenous fish , in homestead ponds connected to rice fields led to a 3.5-fold increase in total fish production compared to stand-alone ponds.

In Cambodia, improved governance and management of community fish refuges —natural or human-made ponds that hold water throughout the year and provide a dry season sanctuary for brood fish—has led to higher production and fish species diversity in the surrounding flooded rice fields.

Rice-fish systems are a vital source of food in both these countries. Yet despite similarities in dietary patterns, there are several differences when it comes to fish production. These include stocking practices, the mortality rate of fingerlings, and the management of and access to natural resources.

Inter-country learning

Sharing and learning from these similarities and differences was behind a recent study tour to Bangladesh. Over the course of a week, a 13-person delegation of WorldFish employees, partners and government representatives from Cambodia travelled to former project sites in Rangpur in northern Bangladesh and Rajshahi in the west.

The study tour was part of the EU- and IFAD-funded project Managing Aquatic Agricultural Systems to Improve Nutrition and Livelihoods in Cambodia (2016–2019). This is in turn a component of the…