A $2 million project to improve rural food security and livelihoods in Myanmar through the development of fisheries and small-scale aquaculture was officially launched last week by WorldFish and the Myanmar government Department of Fisheries.

The Myanmar government estimates that the fisheries and aquaculture sector employs over 2.6 million people full and part-time, and increasing productivity, efficiency, sustainability and equity in the fisheries production system has the potential to benefit millions.

Project leader Dr Gareth Johnstone from WorldFish says that the first step of the project is to gather information and data on the state of fisheries and aquaculture, and confirm the importance of fish for income and food in Myanmar.

“The numbers that we have from the government show that fisheries and aquaculture are very significant for livelihoods and food security, and compiling the evidence to support these statistics is critical. We suspect that it is probably higher for employment, and this is one of the reasons why we’re supporting the capacity of the government, private sector and non-government organizations to better understand the significance of fisheries, Dr Johnstone explains.

The four-year project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the AusAid Asia Division will work directly with communities to ensure that Myanmar’s small-scale fisheries and aquaculture producers are as productive as possible.

Dr Johnstone says that developing management capacities and increasing productivity will have vast benefits for Myanmar’s people. “The project will have economic, community, social and cultural benefits. The focus of the project is on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, so increasing net income for fish farmers is one important element of the project, he adds.

The project titled Improving research and development of Myanmar’s inland and coastal fisheries forms one component of a larger $10 million program that also includes socio-economic development, and improvement of the rice, legume and livestock sectors.

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