VEGA applauds Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Ambassador Mark Green as USAID Administrator
Statement by Michael Deal, president and CEO, VEGA
“On behalf of our 30 volunteer-sending organizations and the millions of Americans they represent, the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) applauds the Senate on its unanimous confirmation of Ambassador Mark Green as the next Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Administrator Green’s leadership is critical now as USAID and the State Department face drastic proposed budget cuts and discussions over reorganization continue. We are confident that Administrator Green will prioritize economic growth to meet our shared goal of ending the need for foreign assistance by providing the opportunity, tools and training to people in the developing world seeking to graduate from aid recipients to trading partners. We look forward to working with Administrator Green and his team to ensure that highly skilled volunteers who represent the generous skills and spirit of the American private sector are fully and effectively leveraged in U.S. efforts to catalyze the economic growth in the developing world that will lead to more prosperity and security at home and abroad.”
Australian team meets in South Melbourne
The AwF Secretariats try to meet monthly to catch up with various news items and on this occasion we were joined by Peter Hilcke. Peter is involved with the Australian Seafood Show on Foxtel and he was keen to hear about what AwF is doing and has offered to assist where he can. Julie Kimber is busy trying to reorganise the Womens Network Committee and Paul Liew is keen to get going with the newsletter. Janine Pierce (Global Indigenous Network) and Django Van Tholen (Technical) were not able to join us on this occasion but are continuing to work on their current projects.
Nikoleta Championing AwF Students
PhD student Nikoleta Ntalamagka of Greece is in the final stages of a three-year research project into pearl oysters and is using her aquaculture expertise to help international not-for-profit organisation Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF).
Ms Ntalamagka, 28, is now coordinating an international student network for the group, which uses aquaculture projects to help alleviate poverty in developing countries.
She said her engagement with AwF began at a conference in Indonesia, where she had presented her idea for a simple aquaponics system to produce fish and plants in refugee camps.
“It’s very easy to maintain and doesn’t require fertiliser,” she said. “In the system, the by-products of the fish are utilised by the plants as nutrients, and the water is then recirculated into the system. It’s very sustainable and it could help refugees learn some skills they can use when they are permanently settled.
“Aquaculture projects work well for poverty alleviation because they generally require minimal resources to set up and minimal training or education to maintain them.
“I think that developing an aquaculture system that made a real difference to people in need would be incredibly rewarding.”
Ms Ntalamagka said students from all disciplines could use their skills and knowledge to help the activities of AwF.
As well as using online channels to recruit students from around the world to the organisation, Ms Ntalamagka is preparing to submit the final results for her PhD in August.
She said her research project, which included extensive field testing, had discovered a way to influence the reproduction cycle of pearl oysters.
“Pearl producers want to produce large numbers of high-quality pearls, but to do that you need to boost production of the oysters themselves,” she said.
“Even though the end goal might be about the pearl itself, I’ve focused on the animal and trying to use genetics to influence their production cycle, maturation and sex.
“If we can control all these factors, then eventually the oysters will produce a better pearl.”
HLPE report on Nutrition and Food Systems
E-consultation on an Issues Note proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee:
- Dr Janine Pierce, University of South Australia, Australia
Sustainable Aquaculture: Five Capitals Approach
Sustainable aquaculture offers a key sustainable food source with potential to redress world food and protein shortages, and is also a proactive food security strategy to assist in addressing the worldwide issue of fish depletion. Sustaining global food supplies presents challenges, with most population growth in the future estimated to be in the poorest developing countries in which protein sources are already in short supply. As a source of protein, aquaculture is increasingly being viewed as a viable solution to protein source shortages to feed ever increasing population numbers. Aquaculture is efficient to operate compared with beef and other grain dependent animal protein sources. Aquaculture ventures in developing countries such as oyster projects implemented by Australian Council of International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in North Vietnam (Pierce and O’Connor,2014), have shown that not only can aquaculture ventures provide more quality protein sources into local diets, but also can provide an extra surplus income to buy other food staples and to enhance quality of life. Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) is a leading light in demonstrating how the many aquaculture projects they have assisted to start in developing countries can supplement food and income sources, and provide sustainable jobs. A key approach for success in AwF projects has been the ‘Teach a Person to Fish’ model to ensure they are predominantly locally driven by the community, with specialist voluntary expertise and funding provided.
Food and food security, whether in aquaculture production or other food production, needs to be viewed in the wider context of five different interdependent dimensions of sustainability capitals (natural, human, social, institutional, produced), none of which can be extricated from the equation. Natural environment needs to be considered in relation to sustainable farming as it underpins the enablement of food production for today and tomorrow. Human capital is another needed factor requiring knowledge and education for those who drive initiatives for food production both in implementation, in timely passing on of knowledge to those in communities, regular updating of new skills and knowledge, and flow on jobs. Social capital ensures commitment of the community to food ventures and in commitment to sustaining the environment, trust to share knowledge and to help others, whether in their businesses or in sharing of food. Flow on social capital other benefits include from mental and social wellbeing gained from providing for families and the community, and gainful employment. Institutional capital is required which covers ethical and sustainable guidelines for developing of businesses that also are for benefit of the local community and sustaining the natural environment, and governing bodies who have the responsibility to set guidelines and policies for sustainable food production. It is also important to monitor ways in which businesses are operated for sustainable production and good standards of food security through all the links in the supply chain. A further institutional capital consideration is to ensure ways people in the food production supply chain are treated is in accordance with human rights guidelines and fair pay. Produced capital is another essential part of the capitals equation as income generated by food businesses can support lifestyles, help alleviate poverty, fund education for children, and further enhance business ventures in the community. Aquaculture offers the opportunity to be a partial solution to world food security issues, but needs to be approached in a holistic way to ensure a five capitals approach for sustaining people and the planet. A positive model of implementation can be inspired by the AwF approach in developing countries for aquaculture projects.
Details of Ceres Global trip dates for 2016 can be found @ https://mail.google.com/mail/u/4/#inbox/152ab1adb64b7a6a.
Message from VEGA
Australian Art at Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Everyone knows the Casino in Monaco, famous worldwide through the James Bond movies, but the striking Oceanographic Museum on the famous cliff close to the Prince Palace and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is a major cultural attraction of the French Riviera with over 500,000 visitors during the height of the European Summer.
The Oceanographic Museum, as part of the Oceanographic Institute, Foundation Albert I, Prince of Monaco, is committed to enhancing the knowledge of the richness and fragility of the oceans, and promoting their sustainable management as well as their rational and efficient protection. It upholds and shares its mission, following the wish of its founder, Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922): ‘knowing, loving and protecting the oceans’.
The Oceanographic Museum plays a key role in the diffusion of Contemporary Art. Every year since 2010, major contemporary artists have been invited to present works responding to a same theme: the protection of oceans and marine biodiversity. Thus the artists Damien Hirst, Mark Dion, Marc Quinn and Huang Yong Ping have already exhibited within its walls. This six months exhibition will contribute to this dynamic and will be the major summer 2016 event at the Oceanographic Museum.
The background of the full project refers to the deep and early interest that H.S.H. Prince Albert I of Monaco had towards indigenous people he met, and primitive arts that he collected. The Prince has gathered at the Oceanographic Museum all familiar and precious objects which he considered to be related to ocean life and that he was eager to acquire during his many travels.
Furthermore, Indigenous People of Australia and from the Pacific region are dealing in their daily lives with the effects of global warming and pollution, in particular by macro-waste such as discarded fishing nets. For this exhibition, we wish to give voice to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists through the works they will create relating to these phenomena affecting the oceans. Our concern was to search for artworks linked with the sea and which are consistent with the protection of the oceans policy conducted by the Oceanographic Institute.
It is an ambitious project to be realised within a very short time frame but certainly a unique occasion for Australia, and for Queensland in particular, to present with us a project of excellence.
The Oceanographic Institute of Monaco is a private foundation which dedicates all of its funds to research on marine life. They therefore request that all art projects presented at the Museum be fully self-funded. For this outstanding exhibition to happen in its entirety, it will require for each partner (including artists, art centres, and representatives) to secure funds from public and private sector sources.
The project is managed by Stéphane Jacob from ARTS D’AUSTRALIE in Paris and coordinated in Australia by Suzanne O’Connell from SUZANNE O’CONNELL GALLERY and Tea Dietterich (board member of ABIE France and our CEO at 2M Language Services) is proud to be involved and supporting this unique exhibition.
The concept of the exhibition is to address this theme from various angles with diverse artistic approaches, different media and the involvement of a large number of artists. The project is organised around three independent exhibitions developed with three partners:
- The first exhibition will focus on cultural relationships relating to the sea of the Pacific peoples through a presentation of traditional and contemporary photographs and artefacts that will echo the collections gathered by Prince Albert I during his numerous scientific expeditions.
The proposal has been made by Mr Didier Zanette, Director of the Lapita Gallery (Nice, Paris, Noumea) specialized in Pacific and Indonesian Arts, associated with Dominique Barbe, Senior Lecturer in History of Ancient Worlds at the University of New Caledonia.
In the “Oceanomania” lounge (first floor), various Oceanic artefacts will be presented: paddles (carved or painted with tropical colors), prows of canoes and zoomorphic vessels as well as two canoes that will be displayed in the adjacent space of the first floor landing.
In the prestigious Conference room (ground floor), a wonderful collection of photographs of Papuans Portraits painted for ceremonial and dance purposes will be shown.
- The second exhibition, in the Albert I exhibition hall (first floor), will present a selection of contemporary paintings created by Aboriginal artists from the desert on the theme of water and will include works from the private collection of H.S.H. Prince Albert II. Videos and photos made by young Indigenous artists will also illustrate the issue of the preservation of the environment and open a window towards new contemporary art practices.
This proposal has been suggested by private collectors Mr Francis Missana and Marc Sordello (Antibes, France) associated with Sir Ian McLean, Professor at the University of Wollongong (Australia) and Ms. Erica Izett at the University of Western Australia (Australia).
- The third exhibition will be entirely dedicated to the creation of six monumental contemporary installations by seventy major Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Those works will witness the environmental issues of our century and most specifically the threat of pollution endangering marine biodiversity and food
This project titled ‘Australia: Defending the Oceans at the Heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art’ is curated by Mr Stéphane Jacob, Director of the Gallery Arts d’Australie, together with Ms. Suzanne O’Connell, Director of Suzanne O’Connell Gallery (Brisbane) Australian Coordinator.
It is by far the most complete and ambitious project ever undertaken by Queensland Artists in Europe. The project has the Museum’s full support and, by its magnitude, requires as much help as possible to make it happen. It will showcase over seventy different artists working on six monumental installations to be displayed in six key positions in and around the museum.
- In the forecourt : Installation of 10 monumental ‘Bagu’ sculptures made out of recycled materials found on the beach in the vicinity of the Girringun community Cardwell, Queensland). Originally the “Bagu” was a sacred wooden tool used to keep the fire in each group.
- On the facade : ‘Githalai’, 3 large mud crabs created by Brian Robinson will climb on the facade of the Museum and will be an invitation for the public to discover the whole exhibition. Brian Robinson was born in the Torres Strait Islands, located between the tip of the Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea.
- Hall of Honour (ground floor): Ghost nets Installation. Entitled ‘Ghost Net’ or ‘Aboriginal Art to the rescue of marine fauna in Australia’, the installation of over twenty works will be created by three Art Centres that will work together: Erub Arts (Darnley Island, Torres Strait, Queensland), Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre (Pormpuraaw, Cap York, Queensland), Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre (SA – represented by Ghost Net Art Project, Turmoulin, Queensland.). Their installation will portray different sea animals trapped in abandoned fishing nets: turtles, sharks, dugongs, crocodiles, saw fish, octopus. Today, many marine and coastal species are threatened by discarded nets. The threat to marine biodiversity also endangers the survival of the peoples of the sea.
- First Floor Landing: Dari Ceremonial Headdresses. These works will be presented on the walls of the first floor landing of the Museum. Ken Thaiday is known for his works that use symbols of his native island, Erub (Darnley Island). His 3 to 6 meters high sculptures will represent Dari ceremonial headdresses which are created for dances and evoke traditional fish traps. The Dari is also found on the Torres Strait flag. The art of this region is little known and yet extremely rich. It reveals the intimate relationship linking the Torres Strait Islanders to their maritime environment.
- Hall Princesse-Alice – Main Entrance of the Museum : Alick Tipoti – Turtle Courtship and Mating – Bronze and Aluminium Sculpture
- Terrace located on the rooftop of the Museum : «Sowlal» (Turtle Mating and Nesting Season ) – Monumental Stencil Floor Installation.
In 2016 the main thematic of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco will focus on sea turtles. The works by Alick Tipoti will register themselves very naturally within this thematic. Alick Tipoti is a Torres Strait Artist who has earned international acclaim. His work can be found in many public collections around the world. He recently performed at the British Museum in London. His two works proposed for the exhibition will address the theme of turtles courtship, mating and nesting.
The bronze and aluminium sculpture placed at the entrance of the museum will greet all visitors. It will consist of two turtle bronze sculptures portraying the long process of mating for this endangered species that has been the most touched by discarded nets.
The exceptional 670 m2 installation on the eastern terrace located on the roof of the Museum will allow visitors to discover the numerous animals and plant species found around the Torres Strait Islands. The main drawing will form the body of a monumental turtle that will be visible from the air. This very emblematic work will certainly be one of the most popular icons of this full project.
This spectacular proposal requires a full budget of 1 300 000 € (circa $AUD 1 900 000) to cover creation, transport (incl. return), installation & dismantling, travel costs (up to 30 individuals); insurance, administrative costs, coordination, project management, catalogues, brochures for visitors, two dance groups, Media & PR France & Australia, social networks, films & photographs, advertising (posters & ads), legal fees, public programs, fundraising, miscellaneous/unexpected… If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact us.
It is an ambitious project to be realised within a very short time frame but certainly a unique occasion for Australia, and for Queensland in particular, to present with us a project of excellence.
The Times of India (15 December 2015)
The above article was published in The Times of India (the top English daily paper in India, with a readership of over 7 million) following Roy’s latest trip to Thiruvananthapuram, Vakkom and Kochi.
Global: 2015 World Food Prize Awarded to BRAC Founder
Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2015) – Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh was announced today as the 2015 winner of the World Food Prize, the most prominent global award for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.
The announcement was made at a ceremony at the U.S. State Department, presided over by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who gave keynote remarks. The event was hosted by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H. Rivkin, with Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, making public Sir Fazle’s name.
“I offer my sincerest congratulations to Sir Fazle and appreciation for the progress he has made in improving people’s lives, alleviating hunger, and providing pathways out of poverty. Sir Fazle’s and his organization’s recognition that engaging women in STEAM fields—science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math—benefits our local and global communities is a vision that we share at USDA. It is my honor to participate in this event today with people who see the need for innovative approaches to feeding our rapidly growing population,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation, the $250,000 prize honors Sir Fazle’s unparalleled achievement in building the unique, integrated development organization BRAC, which is headquartered in Bangladesh and operates programs in 10 other countries around the globe. Since he created it over 40 year ago, Sir Fazle’s organization has provided the opportunity for nearly 150 million people worldwide to improve their lives, have enhanced food security and follow a pathway out of poverty through its dynamic and effective development programs.
“At a time when the world confronts the great challenge of feeding over nine billion people, Sir Fazle Abed and BRAC, the organization he founded and leads, have created the preeminent model being followed around the globe on how to educate girls, empower women and lift whole generations out of poverty. For this monumental achievement, Sir Fazle truly deserves recognition as the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate,” commented World Food Prize President, Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn in making public the Laureate’s name.
BRAC, which was formally known as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, has been hailed as the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world. Its agricultural and development innovations have improved food security for millions and contributed to a significant decline in poverty levels through direct impacts to farmers and small communities across the globe. Today BRAC operates 18 financially and socially profitable enterprises, across health, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, education, green energy, printing and retail sectors, and has been responsible for extraordinary advancements in the poultry, seed, and dairy industries in Bangladesh and other countries in which it operates in Africa.
The news of Sir Fazle’s award comes shortly after Bangladesh was applauded in a United Nations report for successfully meeting the Millennium Development Goal, to halve hunger by the year 2015. In his formal remarks, Ambassador Quinn praised the leadership and policies of the Bangladesh government which led to this dramatic achievement.
On receiving the award, Sir Fazle commented: “Being selected to receive the 2015 World Food Prize is a great honor. I consider this award recognition of the work of BRAC, which I have had the privilege to lead over the last 43 years. The real heroes in our story are the poor themselves and, in particular, women struggling with poverty. In situations of extreme poverty, it is usually the women in the family who have to make do with scarce resources. When we saw this at BRAC, we realised that women needed to be the agents of change in our development effort. Only by putting the poorest, and women in particular, in charge of their own destinies, will absolute poverty and deprivation be removed from the face of the earth.”
Sir Fazle will receive the World Food Prize at a ceremony that will be held in the magnificent Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa on the evening of October 15, 2015. The event is the centerpiece of a three-day international symposium entitled the Borlaug Dialogue, which regularly draws over 1,200 people from 65 countries to discuss cutting-edge issues in global food security. Also included in the World Food Prize week-long series of events is the Iowa Hunger Summit on October 13 and the three-day Global Youth Institute, which includes 400 participants from the U.S. and abroad and is designed to inspire the next generation of high school students to explore careers in agriculture and fighting hunger.
Visit www.worldfoodprize.org for more information.
Aquaculture without Frontiers Session at World Aquaculture Conference, Fortaleza, Brazil 16-19 Nov
Deadline is June 1st for abstracts regarding any activity relating to aquaculture that is assisting in welfare and poverty alleviation, development of aquaculture in indigenous and under developed economies.
See https://www.was.org/meetings/default.aspx?code=LACQUA15 for all information and details of how to submit your abstracts.
If anyone has ideas for keynote speakers for the session please nominate but understand AwF is not able to fund their involvement – they must be attending under their own arrangements.
Acuicultura sin Fronteras (AwF) tendrá una Sesión en la Conferencia Mundial del Capítulo Latinoamericano y del Caribe del a World Aquaculture Society que se llevar acabo en, Fortaleza, Brasil del 16 al 19 de Noviembre del 2015.
La fecha límite para enviar resúmenes de trabajos y proyectos sobre cualquier actividad relacionada con la acuicultura que esté ayudando en la mitigación de la pobreza y la marginación, y por otra parte promoviendo el bienestar y desarrollo de la acuicultura en comunidades indígenas y de extrema pobreza en América Latina y el Caribe, serán recibidos hasta el 1 de junio de 2015.
Por favor visitar: https://www.was.org/meetings/default.aspx?code=LACQUA15 para consultar la información y los detalles de cómo enviar sus resúmenes.
10 Things You Need to Know Before Starting an Aquaculture Business
AwF (Australia) Ltd director, Mark Oliver, a well-traveled qualified trainer and owner of a Registered Training Organisation in Australia and myself were having a discussion about our various experiences with aquaculture and made these notes which we thought might be a good ‘blog’ for anyone who is thinking of engaging in the world’s fastest growing primary industry – Aquaculture.
After 24 years in the aquaculture industry Mark has seen a lot of the good, the bad and the downright ugly and laughingly says that many people would have been much better off buying a bar because at least then, at the end of the day, they could have easily drowned their sorrows!
We share the list we came up with you:
KNOW that it is a business. A good aquaculture business is hard work and it is not a romance. There are always complexities. Be predictable, even boring, and not overly adventurous, certainly in the early years. We have seen many R&D projects passed off as commercial entities and often times they end in failure. Think – money out and grow animals; then sell animals and get money in -hopefully more money in than out. Be commercially successful first with the basics and if you have a desire to try and farm more exotic species, go for it. You might even be able to use it as a R&D tax break, if the laws of your country allow such things, but do not base your whole business on hand-outs.
KNOW your limitations. It is one thing to have ‘the’ idea but turning that idea into a business is a major skill and maybe, just maybe, you might need to call for help and assistance. Never be afraid to ask for help and always look to employ and engage people who will add value. If you surround yourself with too many ‘yes, boss’ people you will end up working for them and not the other way around and always remember ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’.
KNOW that there are no corners to cut. Buying an existing aquaculture facility or building one may be expensive – then there are the operational costs. Always factor in your operational costs as they can be huge. Feed, power and labour – those three alone can raise the heart rate of the calmest individual. Adopting precautionary principles to your budget is important so that you see how bad this could be without the ‘rose colored glasses’ on.
KNOW your animal. All aquatic animals are not created equal. Each species has its own quirks and you need to know them if you want to succeed. Read about them, visit other farms, talk to specialists and spend time with the species or find knowledgeable staff that has. Locate the best and proven genes/species and use them before you experiment and ensure you are dealing with the species you ordered. Beware many people have entered aquaculture with the wrong species aiming at the wrong market and price points and then suffer the consequences of those actions.
KNOW that live animals sometimes die. If you are factoring in fantastic production figures for the first 5 or 10 years, please delete. Like all farming you will have good years, bad years, amazing years and absolutely shocking years. You just need to have enough resources tucked away for 2 shocking years in a row. Remember diseases can easily spread so ensure you have a good biosecurity plan in place. Aquaculture is not immune from such things.
KNOW your market. This is a no brainer, but that still doesn’t stop some people forgetting this important aspect. Marketing is a whole different beast, but it really boils down to this. Can you sell the quantity of product you are predicting to produce and will the price you obtain for it make you happy (and not broke). Knowing your cost of production sounds basic but you would be surprised how many times we have seen people not be aware.
KNOW that getting the right advice is very, very important. If you can find a good association which offers you services this can help as often times you can save money and get great advice. If that is not available then you will need to get qualified advice from accountants and legal advisors. Make sure they are people that have your interests at heart. Contracts, agreements, etc. can be complex so you need to know where you stand and always ensure there is a clear exit strategy that you understand. What starts out well often ends up badly through no fault of the original idea so ensure everything is ‘on the table’ and relationships and potential conflicts are discussed well before putting pen to paper.
KNOW that by working with your local environment and not against the biological community, and utilising and not abusing local resources can be a win-win. Bearing in mind you are potentially providing employment and food for the area and should aim at utilising as many local business services as you can makes you are an asset of the local community. Working local makes sense but it is not always feasible.
KNOW that by using the tools of sustainability makes sense. You should always be looking at increasing your energy efficiencies; minimising your impacts on all aspects of the environment and, if it is possible, turning your waste into a useable resource that can be a winner…..but we know it’s not always as easy as some people say.
KNOW that staff are your greatest asset and can drive the success of the business and bad staff can ruin it. Treat your people well and set good examples and the rewards will follow.
The aquaculture industry has many amazing growth business opportunities so remember to do your homework and try to take the romantic visions of aquaculture out of your mind because as Mark keeps on saying – IT’S A BUSINESS.
Can you help us create a stunning website?
We are looking for ideas about the Aquaculture without Frontiers website. The current website has done us proud for a long time and before we make any changes, we are seeking input.
Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Aquaculture Helps Women Improve Household Nutrition
AwF Director, John Forster, pointed out the U.S Aid Newsletter which highlighted the importance of Aquaculture and Women in assisting with the global issues of poverty and hunger.
Interestingly, the example mentioned was in Nepal which is a country where AwF helped establish aquaculture – see project reports 2008-2012. I particularly recall Ram Bhujel (AIT) highlighting (at the AwF Session in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) how important AwF had been in his birthplace (Nepal) in showing that aquaculture was possible and empowering women to engage.
As the U.S Aid newsletter states ‘In rural Nepal, widespread poverty is compounded by the lack of access to high-quality, nutritious foods. According to a recent report from the Nepal Demographic Health Survey, 41 percent of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished, and anemia is a significant problem, afflicting 47 percent of children and 36 percent of women.
One approach to mitigate the spread of anemia and to improve the overall health of rural Nepalese is to supplement their diets with vitamin-rich protein sources, such as fish. Researchers from Nepal’s Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU) recognized the potential of aquaculture to help address this widespread nutritional deficit, and their recent effort in Nepal successfully established more than 70 family-run fishponds, all managed by women. In the first year of operation, the ponds produced over 500 kg of fish for household consumption.’
Looking back at AwF Project reports I read that an aquaculture awareness program was organized gathering a group of women in using computer of a higher secondary school in the village. A program in CD produced based on the “Women in Aquaculture Project” in Chitwan was shown followed by questions and answers. Even at that stage organizers were reporting that a lot of women showed their interest.
From that report I read ‘Altogether 52 families applied and showed interest in culturing fish on their land which was almost double the number the project team had expected. Full technical support (training, field visit and fry supply) was offered to all of them, and a partial financial support was extended to all of them dividing them into two categories i.e. very poor and poor; with more support to the former.’
According to U.S Aid ‘Researchers intend to train more women in effective aquaculture techniques by establishing women’s groups to educate rural Nepalese on fish farming practices and the nutritional benefits associated with household fish production.
One of the challenges of bringing new practices to rural women in Nepal, or for that matter in many countries, is that more than half of them are illiterate and cannot be reached through traditional methods such as distributing written materials.
AwF supports the concept of empowering rural women to grow and consume fish from their own backyards, and is working on a number of project concepts. Better access to more diverse food sources means that families have the chance to increase their resilience and food security in some of the world’s most remote corners.
Networking & Education Important Keys
Wow it has been an interesting few months at AwF and it is great to see some of the seeds we have been planting our starting to flower.
We hear the hungry are not hungry because the world lacks food. The U.N. tells us we grow enough food right now to feed about 10 billion people, but yet they also say nearly one billion of today’s seven billion people are chronically undernourished and well over one billion suffer from significant malnutrition.
The hungry are hungry because they are poor, and they are poor because they are (by and large) either small-scale farmers without enough land, credit, extension services, or investment, or they are underemployed workers with incomes too low to support their families. Organisations are saying that increasing the global supply of agricultural commodities might bring food prices down for a while, but it won’t feed the hungry.
It seems a lot like the conundrum of how you get out of poverty and into wealth.
The founder of the nonprofit Operation HOPE, John Hope Bryant, believes in the case for an “economic Marshall Plan” to give the poor “access to capital and knowledge about how to use it.” His view is that poor people rarely reap the fruits of capitalism because instead of meeting entrepreneurs, homeowners, and college-trained professionals, they’re surrounded by payday lenders, the unemployed, and people who’ve never had a bank account. They are surrounded by the ‘victim’ system so those factors foster the mindset and knowledge gaps that perpetuate poverty. Some say they is perpetuated in the foreign aid programs that exist and changes will not happen where you have corruption and poor governance.
According to Action Aid’s recent report, “Rising to the Challenge: Changing Course to Feed the World in 2050,” the solutions lie not in the rush to increase industrial food production but in supporting sustainable and productive farming practices among small-scale farmers – particularly women – in developing countries while halting the diversion of food to biofuels and reducing the obscene levels of waste and spoilage that keep one-third of the world’s food from nourishing anyone.
To this end we at AwF believe the answers we can bring to the table relate around networking and collaborating where we can, sharing what we have and getting engagement. Along this journey we are now starting to make good connections and some things are starting to flow.
The Women’s Network has commenced very well with the formation of a committee and some excellent ideas about what needs to be done. It will take a short while to get some process going but from the early indications it seems there are a great number of people interested in how this takes shape and improves status quo.
We are on the verge of having established Aquaculture without Frontiers (Australia) Ltd with paperwork taking a little longer than we anticipated to get through the system and the Board set to have its inaugural meeting on 15 December 2014.
We are very proud of two major events that took place in the last few days. Firstly our Founder and Patron, Michael New O.B.E was honored by the European Aquaculture Society (EAS) with their Honorary Life Membership Award. This is the highest EAS award, has only been given to 10 people since 1981 and is given to those persons that have had a marked impact on the development of European aquaculture. Well done Michael.
Secondly Steve Harrison and the students from Huon Valley Trade Training Centre in Tasmania should take a bow. They have run an exciting event expanding the awareness of AwF in the area with a great dinner party. This featured fantastic Tasmanian aquaculture products given so generously by the producers of the area and prepared by the students under the watchful eye of some special chefs of the area. Jennie Cobcroft, who had only just returned from an AwF activity in Myanmar, was able to give all those present some firsthand knowledge of her experiences. Well done to all concerned and a hearty thanks.
There are some great projects in the pipeline but space is short so more next time – keep up with all our news at on the website.
Updating to the new world
Like any organisation going through what might be called ‘growing pains’ Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) knows that it has to change if it is to succeed in achieving its strategies and goals. Change is never easy and for organisations like AwF, which rely strongly on volunteers, it is very difficult. But change we must!
As part of the new broom we have revisited the website and re-organized many of the headings and created new areas of activities and news. We have now posted our Strategic Plan 2014-17, added more Volunteer information and completely revamped the ‘Giving & Funding’ area and created a new Education area. Please have a view of the website and give us your comments and importantly your ideas to value add to what we have done.
An important new development in the ‘Giving & Funding’ section is the involvement of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into our program.
A new element of leadership is making a profound difference in gauging business performance: corporate social responsibility. In the past companies were judged on high performance by measuring against key business imperatives including competitive differentiation, sales, attracting and retaining talent, operational efficiency, return on investment and profitability. But today that is no longer enough.
According to Edelman’s Good Purpose Study, 67% of consumers say they are more likely to buy products and services from a company if they know it supports good causes, up more than 11% from the year before. This has seen CSR surge passed its tipping point. “A plethora of research points to a majority of stakeholders agreeing that CSR is a ‘must do’,” Kristian Darigan Merenda, Edelman’s senior vice president of brand and corporate citizenship was reported to say.
AwF also learned about research conducted earlier this year by Impakt Corp. which revealed that corporations that are considered leaders in terms of business performance take a common approach to CSR. According to the research, there are five interrelated criteria which form a new blueprint for the way corporations can maximize their investments in CSR: business-based social purpose; clear theory of change; quality and depth of information; concentrated effort; and partnering with experts.
As a result of being born from a world association of seafood experts and academics and engaged heavily in aquaculture AwF believes that its key corporate social leaders are within the very same industry. As a key ingredient in business strategy and execution, the AwF CSR program can play a central role in helping corporations to be seen as leaders. In the world of business astute corporations are allocating increasing internal resources to CSR investments that feature clear objectives and deliver measurable social outcomes
AwF is keen to partner organizations offering the opportunity for companies to put back into developing countries through aquaculture (the world’s fastest growing primary industry producing a renewable sustainable highly nutritious protein/food). By working together we can find ways where we can help develop capacity and build capability in aquaculture. Of course, any company can get involved.
Many of the importers would likely be keen to do something but maybe have been lacking the experience that AwF can bring to the table. Hence a partnership collaboration could achieve so much for all.
If you believe that involvement in AwF’s CSR program would be beneficial to your organization, please complete the CSR Registration form and we will contact you to discuss possibilities.
Plenty to do after wars move on
Following on from the excellent Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) Session at Asian Pacific Aquaculture in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam we had another terrific group of speakers at Seattle in February at American Aquaculture 2014.
I was able to Co-Chairs with Antonio Garza d’Yta and the session and opened with Gleyn Bledsoe presenting “Aquaculture as a Successful and Sustainable Instrument for Affecting Economic Recovery and Development in a Post War Environment”.
This was a harrowing story this was highlighting how women, children and the poor/needy are always the most disadvantaged in these circumstances. Additionally the stories of survival from horrific injuries to re-build a new beginning were quite stirring. Gleyn ended with some bright hopes for the future in Sri Lanka and indicated that entrepreneurial individuals would likely succeed in the long run. We are going to discuss with Gleyn how AwF can assist him in his attempts to turns these issues around.
A similar story unfolded from Joseph R Sullivan in his presentation regarding Liberia, entitled “Bootstrapping Aquaculture from Production to Marketing in Developing Nations”. Joseph spoke of some of the basic elements from hand-sexing for all male-tilapia to pituitary spawning of catfish; focusing on novel feed components that are nutritious but not in demand for human food; increasing the quality of the fish sold as that creates higher prices; and how Co-ops can be good (helping to get the equipment/supplies individual farmers can’t get) and bad (creating division of labor/sectors).
Looking to expand her horizons in aquaculture, Angela Caporelli, (engaged in the current ballot to be the next WAS Secretary), gave the audience a terrific overview of her visit to Kenya as a volunteer for AwF through the USAID program.
Angela went to Kenya with Marty Riche and they worked in the Rift Valley and Coastal Provinces. One of the aspects, highlighted in Angela’s summation that AwF will be following through on will be the need for an in-depth training program including all aspects of aquaculture and a well-trained extension person to start aquaculture development in the area.
The session had two presentations about AwF’s first Aquaculture Learning Centre (ALC) in Mexico. Scott Lindell gave a talk on the work that he and Rick Karney did when visiting Mexico on the USAID program administered for AwF through Kevin Fitzsimmons/University of Arizona. A bright future was suggested for the Oyster program being developed through the ALC, so onward and upward in that direction. It is seen as a priority strategy as AwF is keen to develop small business activities enabling there to be some sustainable outcomes.
Antonio spoke in general terms regarding the future of the Mexican ALC and suggested that terrific prospects existed with Government organisations such as CONAPESCA and INAPESCA, and through alliances with WAS-LACC, GILLS and RAA (Red de Acuicultura de las Americas).
We have lots to do so must move on. Thanks very much for reading this and if you feel the need to assist we have yet to turn anyone down so do not hesitate to contact me.
If we are to change the world and get more people eating seafood then we need so much in our favour. One of the major problems is the need for consumer confidence and to correct perceptions in the mainstream media.
I have just had the experience of being in Vietnam and if ever there was an example to exemplify this issue then Vietnam and its seafood is it.
But first I must relate to something that happened on LinkedIn through our Association page discussions, it is the perfect combination of urgency and principles when looking at extremely poor journalism. The thing we must do is to attack that and embarrass the people involved in the hopes that they will not err again.
We were alerted to an article (I will not publicise it as it does not need more airing but you can follow the postings in the LinkedIn discussions) which basically blamed seafood imported in USA for much of the foodborne illnesses that Americans suffer each year. It was suggested by one of our members, Todd Wendt that we should all communicate with the journalist (?) and let her know our feelings to the poorly researched article. Many members of the Association did this and some contacted the publisher, Scripps media, to ensure they were aware of the inaccuracies.
In her defence the author replied “The article is referenced to Food & Water Watch, multiple times. It’s a non-profit in America that does this research. It’s not so my research, it’s research conducted by the non-profit in which I reported on so I suggest instead of taking your frustrations out on me, you take it up with Food & Water Watch. It’s just my job to report what I find.”
It was pointed out quite strongly that promoting fiction as fact was not a good idea.
The issue was further exasperated by another article written in a US Professional fishing magazine which attempted to defend USA produced seafood.
As another Association member, Matt Briggs, pointed out this article was totally biased (after rightly calling for balance from the previous author) as it went on to say that all domestic American seafood is good and sustainable, and, by inference, only filthy nasty fish from outside America is bad and unsustainable. That is nonsense!
Matt stressed what I have often said – the seafood industry is own worst enemy when it comes to knocking seafood. Matt said ‘remember what happened when the US catfish industry tried to differentiate between (lovely, clean and healthy) US produced catfish, and (nasty, filthy unhealthy and not really catfish at all) Vietnamese catfish? Everyone lost out as all catfish was tarred with the same brush in the consumers mind.’
Anyway back to Vietnam. We had a great Marketing session at Asian Pacific Aquaculture 13 in Ho Chi Minh City where well over 2000 people attended over the 3 days of the conference and trade show.
In the session the aim was to try and set the scene of where we are today and to see how we can improve into the future. I set the scene highlighting how people come to Vietnam for a holiday and when asked what was special about the holiday they generally remark on how great and reasonably priced the food was, especially the seafood. Of that there can be no doubt from my own experiences.
When these people get home the ‘Product of Vietnam’ sign at the fish counter is not an issue but seemingly to some journalists it is like a red flag to a bull! Strange but true. I highlighted how Vietnam had suffered from various PR attacks which had mainly been promoted by others in our industry – we are our worst enemy for sure.
Professor David Hughes had the audience in the palm of his hand as he highlighted the problems of being a commodity driven product comparing Chicken with Pangasius then Dr. Nguyen Huu Dzung from VASEP explained what their plans for the future were and the event was nicely completed by Norm Grant, Chairman of the Seafood Importers Association of Australasia, who gave a run down on the Brand Vietnam that was happening in Australia.
All this highlights is that seafood operators are not each other’s enemy – the enemy is chicken, pork, beef, lamb, etc. and that we all need to grasp that strongly and work together. We need to defend the whole industry and understand that if we denigrate any seafood that we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
Let us all work together to lift consumer confidence – we cannot do that unless we have each other’s backs!
Inspiring Young AwF Network Strategy
Eric Litvinoff, the Aquaculture teacher at Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, CT, is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. He learned about AwF from one of his professors, ex-AwF President, Dr. Barry Costa-Pierce, and that information came to mind when he took up his teaching position.
Students at his school are encouraged to do community service and AwF came up during discussions by the Interact Club about fundraising projects they could do. Consequently, Eric contacted AwF Director Dave Conley to discuss how his students could become involved.
At the time, Haiti was one of the places that AwF was focusing some attention, so the discussion leaned toward how the students might be able to assist. Bill Mebane at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, MA, manages the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative (SAI), a 12-year project to help teach Haitians how to farm fish for food security and to earn income.
Bill has developed a modular turn-key family fish farm that all fits inside a 45-gal steel drum so that it can be easily shipped to Haiti and transported or ‘rolled by hand’ to a suitable site. Everything needed to construct the fish farm is packed into the drum – wire mesh to support the vinyl liner, air pump, air stone and tubing, plastic pipes and fittings, bio-filter and media, and a solar panel to power the air pump. The steel drum is used as the water sump. Bill has managed to get the cost of the module down to below US$ 800.
The students seized upon the idea of raising enough money to build one module to give to a needy family in Haiti and set out to raise the necessary funds. They created posters to put up in the school and at various places in the neighborhood, and published a brochure promoting AwF that students took home to distribute to family and friends. The fundraising event – a pasta dinner at a local restaurant – was hosted by the students. They did everything themselves – selling tickets, delivering food and cleaning tables. At the end of the evening they had raised US$ 500 for AwF!
Following the fundraiser, Eric re-contacted Dave at AwF to discuss how the money could be delivered. He invited Dave to come to the school to accept the check from the students and to give a brief presentation about AwF and what the organization was doing. Given that the students are very knowledgeable about aquaculture, Eric knew that they would really enjoy hearing about some real world experiences/projects that were currently happening. Dave suggested that instead of him, perhaps the students would like to hear directly from Bill Mebane about his experiences in Haiti and to learn more about his prototype family fish farm. Eric and Bill agreed and it was arranged.
The students were all very excited at the prospect. All had completed at least one course in aquaculture, covering topics from system design, environmental benefits, feed/nutrition and shellfish cultivation. They were very interested in AwF and the idea of teaching others how to grow their own aquatic crops.
Getting young people to understand about growing food in water and all the reasons why just makes sense as we need to change the current paradigm, which is far too locked into land based activities.
Bill travelled to the high school to meet with the students and accepted the cheque on behalf of AwF. As Eric wrote in a follow-up email to Dave – “Bill was awesome. The kids sat in awe as he talked about AwF, Haiti, and real-world aquaculture. After the talk, Bill and I were bombarded with questions about how the students can help, will our school be building a barrel system, and how can we get to Haiti.”
Eric continued – “We should get together and talk about more ways that my school can help AwF. I have a large number of students that are interested in sustainability, environmental awareness, and want to promote aquaculture. Maybe we can meet up/chat this summer about some partnerships together.”
Discussing this event and its inspiring outcome, Dave and myself hit on the idea that perhaps there was an opportunity here to capture this student enthusiasm and channel it to helping AwF fulfill its mission of capacity building in developing countries. There are high schools, colleges and universities all around the world that provide courses in aquaculture and/or related subjects. Perhaps these educational hubs could be networked to provide information and knowledge sharing between students from different parts of the same country as well as different parts of the world. What a fantastic way to build capacity, by bringing aquaculture students together to share and learn from each other and possibly help foster the next generation of aquaculturists. AwF could provide hands-on internships at the Aquaculture Learning Centers (ALCs) that are now being developed.
We think this concept has ‘legs’ and is now an important strategy for the organisation. We believe some excellent outcomes can be achieved with leadership from the AwF Capacity Building Committee now headed by Dr. Antonio Garza de Yta.
Additionally, I approached the cluster of Tasmania’s Aquaculture Schools which are working through Seafood Training Tasmania in Australia. I was invited to one of their regular cluster meetings in Launceston a few months ago where I outlined the concept and it was enthusiastically received. So we are now looking to put some plans together and make it happen.
Photos of Marine Science Magnet High School, USA and the St. Patrick’s Aquaculture Centre in Australia and the aquaculture facilities they are so fortunate to have.
For more information about Marine Science Magnet High School, USA (www.marinesciencemagnet.org) and its aquaculture program, contact Eric Litvinoff, Aquaculture Teacher, Marine Science Magnet H.S. Elitvinoff@marinesciencemagnet.org.
Connecticut high school raises $500 for AwF, click here for details.
Aquaculture – Eradicating Hunger
Thank you for the comments I have received following the first version of this regular blog/column that aims to bring you news and information about Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) and the issues that surround our organisation.
It seems that poverty and hunger are getting put in the limelight for the moment with the G8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland. President Obama will be with the group at the annual meeting of the world’s wealthiest countries. I note that the countries look a bit ‘old school’ with the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom – China not part of this?
In the U.S. the farm bill and food aid reform is on the domestic U.S. agenda so the President has a rare chance to return to theme of last year and make a lasting impact on world hunger once and for all.
As I travel I am always amazed about how many people/governments put money to the cause of eradicating hunger and poverty. You would think that we would have solved the issue by now but we are a long way from that and children are dying every day because the problems have not been solved. It is a massive tragedy.
At AwF we have been having this discussion and one of the issues we keep coming back to is that the problem gets complicated because there is a lack of a global approach. People, companies, NGO’s and governments have brought into the issue at different levels and with different plans so everyone does their own thing. As a result of that we get wastage and many poor decisions against a few wins.
My own thought is that the World (who is that? – FAO?)[i] needs to create a Poverty and Hunger Framework which highlights all the countries in the world with the issue. This needs to be documented and from that independent experts need to highlight the issues in each country with possible solutions alongside them. This listing needs then to be prioritized – always a tough one and harder when you are talking about people.
It seems that Governments want to do their own thing with their foreign aid, in probably no different way than informed companies do. They want to see their name on the project and the hopefully good outcomes and why not? Well maybe that it is not working as well as it should is the answer.
The problem I see at the moment is that it could all be so much better. We need to reform food aid and take the politics out of it.
As an example it has been documented that every year the U.S. Government makes available nearly $2.2 billion in food aid to countries facing food shortages and starvation around the world. The caveat on this that U.S. food aid must be purchased from U.S. producers and shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels. So that is good and bad. It gives on one hand but takes away on the other as it clearly makes the program more costly and probably inefficient.
To make matters worse some food aid is distributed through what is called ‘monetization’. Through this ‘monetization’ food from U.S. is donated to charities, they then sell the food to other countries and use the proceeds for development projects. Do you think other countries like this idea? Farmers in those countries are forced to compete on an uneven playing field in selling their product so this is likely doing more harm than good.
Back in the mid-90’s I believe the European Union reformed its food aid policy effectively eliminating the monetization of aid and sourcing its food from the most proficient farmers/growers/processors. It would seem that this puts the EU aid position in a slightly better light.
In Australia we have a strategy that highlights that our Aid Program (AusAID) ‘funds research to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development’. There is a belief that ‘good research leads to greater development effectiveness’ and they say that ‘AusAID has been a strong supporter of practical, policy-relevant social science research into development challenges.’
There are two major problems as I see it with this. Research is good but unless we train the people on the ground on how to adapt to the answers research is giving then we are unlikely to see improvement. The other difficulty is that politicians are generally short term planners and research does not happen overnight and the money will get spent in areas that suits Australia and not for the global good.
I am giving the last word on this to the Director-General at FAO, Graziano da Silva, who said recently “Food output per person has grown by nearly 40 percent in the last decades. But the increase in food production has come at a high environmental cost because of the intensive use of natural resources and chemical inputs. And, despite higher production, nearly 870 million people are still chronically hungry, at least 2 billion suffer from other forms of malnutrition. If we keep looking at hunger simply in terms of food production, we will not solve this problem. As Professor Amartya Sen recently pointed out, hunger and starvation result from the fact that people do not have enough food to eat; that does not mean that there is insufficient food available. The world already produces enough food. The main cause of hunger nowadays is the lack of access: hundreds of millions of people do not have the income to buy the food they need or the means to produce it for themselves.”
We look forward to continuing this conversation with you and for your support in the areas with which we work. In the meantime have a look at our website (http://www.aquaculturewithoutfrontiers.org/) and see how you might help us in our quest.
Thanks so much to the magazine in giving us this opportunity.
[i] The World – The foundation of FAO in 1945 reflected the need for better global food governance and for collective responsibilities. The belief that it was possible to achieve universal “freedom from want” and that this was “essential for lasting peace”.