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Poster: You can have your rice and eat fish too

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Research by CESD and Michigan State University examined the use of land for rice and fish farming in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Key findings are summarised in this poster, presented at the International Conference on Global Food Security, held at Cornell University in October 2015.

Commercial aquaculture is a high value activity, yielding much higher returns than paddy cultivation, can be viable at small and medium scale, and makes important contributions to food and nutrition security goals.

Aquaculture in Myanmar has grown quickly despite an unfavorable policy environment which increases the cost of adoption and, in some areas, prevents it completely. This is a testament to how attractive it is to farmers.

The potential loss of rice area to aquaculture resulting from liberalizing land use restrictions in Myanmar is likely to be small: Rice to pond area ratios similar to those in Bangladesh (which has few land use restrictions) would mean an increase in total pond area from a current 1.1% equivalent share of rice area to just 3.2%. This implies a decrease in rice area and production of 2.1%, or less.

Myanmar possesses ample scope to intensify paddy production, generating higher yields from the existing cropped area. Policies should aim to simultaneously promote small holder rice intensification and diversification into small holder-led commercial aquaculture in order to:

  • Dramatically raise producer incomes;
  • Increase availability and accessibility of fish to consumers;
  • Reduce sales of paddy land for conversion into large scale aquaculture and confiscation of land for large scale agricultural projects;
  • Avoid the environmental impacts of further expansion of the land frontier

Reductions in paddy production caused by conversion of rice land to ponds could easily be made up through greater efficiencies, raising Myanmar’s rice yields closer to levels to those achieved by it neighbors. Rice security and fish security is not a necessarily zero sum game: more fish doesn’t have to mean less rice!

Publication name: You can have your rice and eat fish too: rice, fish, land use trade-offs and food security in Myanmar and Bangladesh

Author(s): Ben Belton, Aung Hein, Kyan Htoo, L. Seng Kham, Paul Dorosh and Emily Schmidt

Supported by: USAID, Michigan State University and International Food Policy Research Institute

Publication date: October 2015

Language(s): English

Download the poster from the following link: