Highlights from IFAD funded "Small Fish and Nutrition" project in Bangladesh


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Presented by Shakuntala Thilsted at the International Fund for Agricultural Development headquarters in Rome, July 2013.

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  • IFAD funded project: ”Linking Fisheries and Nutrition: Promoting Innovative Fish Production Technologies in Ponds and Wetlands with Nutrient-Rich Small Fish Species in Bangladesh”. Builds on many years of research work on carps – small fish pond polyculture by Bangladesh Agricultural University and the University of Copenhagen, as well as the collaboration between WorldFish Bangladesh and IFAD on the Fisheries Research Support Project in wetlands management.
  • The project is based on two fish production technologies: production of carps and the nutrient-rich small fish mola in small household ponds in Rangpur and Dinajpur; and sustainable management of wetlands with stocking of a small amount of mola in water bodies in Sunamganj. The ponds are managed by individual households, the water bodies by community groups, each group of about 25 households.The project period covered two full seasons of fish harvesting/production.
  • The major focus of the project was increased production and productivity of fish for increased household income; as well as focus on production and productivity of nutrient-rich small fish for household consumption, especially in the first 1,000 days of life. 1,000 days: 9months of pregnancy; from conception to 6 months’ old child: exclusive breastfeeding; up to 2 years of age: continued breastfeeding and complementary feeding.Fish and fish products are particularly important in the 1,000 days – diet of the woman, foetus and young child.A source of essential fatty acids – crucial for brain development and cognitionA source of multiple vitamins, minerals and animal protein – for optimal growth and developmentFish is an irreplaceable animal-source food in Bangladesh, frequency of consumption is high, in peak production but the quantities consumed are little, and fish is not included in complementary feeding from 6 months of age.Surveys show that removing small fish from the diets of the poor, removes a large proportion of calcium intake, as the bones are consumed.There are no other rich sources of calcium in the diet, e.g. milk.
  • The Bangladeshi diet is dominated by the staple rice, and consists of vegetables and fish – in small amounts. We wish to increase dietary diversity, especially focusing on nutrient-rich fish species vegetables. Therefore, in this project, beginning with pond aquaculture, we have included production of nutrient-rich vegetables, with focus on orange sweet potato – rich in vitamin A on pond dykes and homestead gardens.We have also included a strong component of promotion of consumption with , with training of trainers by Helen Keller International, and local women as promoters: nutrition education, awareness, cooking demonstrations.
  • We do not have full analyses of the data sets; the project was completed in May 2013.However, we have some data for the first season of production.
  • Again, we need to complete data analyses on dietary diversity and fish consumption.However, we have indications form the first production season.Much emphasis on inclusion of fish in complementary feeding, at the initiation of complementary feeding – at 6 months of age.Emphasis of increasing the amount and frequency of consumption of small fish in the diets of pregnant and lactating women.We have developed a pre-prepared complementary food powder – rice, orange sweet potato, small fish and oil, especially targeted for children 6 – 8 months of age.We have developed a woman’s product: a fish chutney: dried fish, lightly fried in oil and spices (one spoonful) to be used with the main meal.We are working hard to make sure that these products are tasty and acceptable, as well as with a strong marketing strategy to get high usage.
  • In pond aquaculture, women are engaged in taking care of the ponds, feeding the fish and harvesting for home consumption.In production of orange sweet potato, women are engaged in production, harvesting, cooking and feeding children.This project starts with fish production, and therefore both men and women are very interested, as increased fish production increases family income – to meet help meet the needs of the family; e.g. food purchases, schooling of children, health costs. As this project links production and consumption of both fish and vegetables, it gives an unique opportunity for both men and women to be engaged.At the same time, more work is being added to the women’s work load.We need to be innovative and engage all family members to share in the women’s work load – e.g. caring and feeding of the child, cooking.The role of mother-in-law in food distribution, ensuring that women and the adolescent girl as well as the young child are fed nutrient-rich foods must be addressed – norms, attitudes and practices must be addressed, and innovative ways for getting change sought.In Bangladesh, men do most of the marketing, and therefore the messages regarding the needs for dietary diversity and nutrient needs of different family members must reach men, so that they can make informed choices. Rapid appraisals and focus group discussions showed that community women engaged in the project highlighted many positive benefits – empowerment, greater status due to their role and knowledge, increased physical mobility.
  • The success of this project strengthen the newly initiated IFAD funded six years’ HILIP. Of particular interest are: focus on production of nutrient-rich fish in water bodies as well as in household ponds; increased fish consumption in the 1,000 days, dried fish quality and marketing for the child’s and woman’s fish products.The components in this project are also extremely appropriate for adoption in countries rich fisheries resources and with fish as a common food in the diet. This fits within the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Zambia are present focal countries, and Myanmar in 2014.
  • Highlights from IFAD funded "Small Fish and Nutrition" project in Bangladesh

    1. 1. Highlights from IFAD funded “Small Fish and Nutrition” project in Bangladesh Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted Senior Nutrition Scientist, WorldFish
    2. 2. Project Sites and Target Households North-west: 1,500 households with small homestead ponds North-east: community groups, 500 households managing water bodies Project duration: 32 months; completion May 2013
    3. 3. Projects Goals • Increase household income • Improve nutrition (focus on the first 1,000 days of life) through increased fish (nutrient-rich) production and consumption
    4. 4. Innovative Integrated Approach • Vegetables (orange sweet potato (OSP)) on pond dykes and in homestead gardens • Promotion of consumption of nutrient-rich fish and vegetables and increased dietary diversity
    5. 5. Project Highlights Fish production • Large increases in nutrient-rich small fish production • 3.5 fold increase in total fish production in household ponds • 2 fold increase in fish production from waterbodies • Increased production of dried small fish from waterbodies
    6. 6. Project Highlights Increased Fish Consumption • Quantity and frequency of nutrient-rich fish consumed - In women - In children, starting with complementary feeding from 6 months of age
    7. 7. Project Highlights Strengthening family and community engagement • Men and women in decision- making and work load sharing in production • Women’s work load • Intra-household food allocation • Men’s purchase of foods • Community women as promoters for production and consumption - empowered - status - mobility • Adoption of pond aquaculture and OSP production by non-project households
    8. 8. Project Highlights Knowledge Sharing and Technology Transfer • Government of Bangladesh: Departments of Fisheries and Extension - national and local • Implementing projects - USAID Feed the Future: FTF Aqua - Multi-Year Assistance Programs (MYAPs)
    9. 9. Way Forward Within the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems Bangladesh: e.g. IFAD funded Haor (wetlands) Infrastructure and Livelihood Improvement Project (HILIP) Regional: e.g. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar