Organization of aquaculture
As indicated earlier, aquaculture can be organized at different levels in order to meet specific developmental objectives. Major support services, such as research, training and extension, are generally organized by the State, even though all of them can as well be organized in the private sector. However, when the national policy is to establish aquaculture in the form of small-scale operations as an integral part of rural development, the State has necessarily to take the responsibility for these, or at least to take a leading role, and enlist the cooperation of non-governmental agencies including co-operatives. Similarly, greater involvement of government may be needed in making credit available on reasonable terms to small producers and in promoting the production and distribution of inputs such as feeds and fertilizers as well as farm equipment. In the absence of effective cooperative organizations, government assistance may be required for making appropriate arrangements to market products within the country and to export to foreign markets.
On the other hand, large-scale enterprises can ideally be organized on a vertically integrated basis. Hatchery and seed production grow-out, feed manufacture, processing and marketing of products can all be integrated into one unit, if the necessary natural resources such as land, water and energy are available in adequate quantities. Restrictions relating to land ownership or use of foreshore or inland waters
would naturally affect the size of farms and therefore the possibilities of such integrated enterprises, conforming to minimum economic size requirements. There is, of course, the possibility of the owners of a large number of small areas combining their resources to establish and operate a large enterprise on a cooperative basis. It is also possible to organize production on a large number of small holdings, with a central managing or coordinating agency providing the necessary finance, technical assistance, essential inputs and marketing services.
Despite the large number of small units of production, the enterprise could then function with economic efficiency and effective overall management.
Though the need for the participation of the local community in the planning and implementation of rural development projects was a widely accepted idea in many traditional societies, this was seldom realized until the emergence of democratic forms of government. The stakeholder approach is a result of the social revolution or evolution that has taken place slowly in many countries. The United Nations Conference of 1992 on Environment and Development urged all governments to involve individuals and communities in decision-making at all levels. This included the establishment of mechanisms to support the participation of all stakeholders in identifying problems that may stand in the way of achieving the objectives of the project (Sen, 2001).The stakeholders may be primary stakeholders who are directly affected by the proposed development, or secondary stakeholders who are indirectly affected by the proposed interventions. Effective stakeholder involvement depends on capacity and aspirations and their ability to influence management responsibilities. The stakeholders’ approach is expected to yield realistic and more effective policies and improved implementation of the plans. Management of policies will be more enduring if the organizations that they belong to are legitimate, and to the extent that all those who are directly or indirectly concerned recognize their legitimacy.
Generally, small-scale aquaculture projects provide more employment opportunities per unit of capital invested than larger farms. In addition, they have the advantage of being more widely distributed geographically and locally owned, enabling improved income distribution among the population.The preference in people-oriented aquaculture has therefore to be for small-scale farms. However, the size and production should be adequate for the targeted income to be earned by individuals or families and should conform to the minimum economic size of the particular type of farming.
When aquaculture is developed as an additional or part-time activity, the system selected has to be compatible with, or complementary to, the normal vocation of the target group. Crop and animal farmers may find it comparatively easy to integrate fish culture with their on-going farming activities and obtain increased production at minimum cost. When a small-scale fisherman wants to undertake aquaculture on a part-time basis to supplement his income, he will normally have to base it near his dwelling, as for example on the sea coast, estuary, river or lake. Although land-based aquaculture may be feasible in some areas, cage farming and raft culture of molluscs may be easier to adopt, not only because of the tech-nology but also the ease with which attitudes to such activities can be influenced. Since these systems of farming have a closer association with capture fishery environments and practices, the fisherman who is basically a hunter may find it easier to adapt to such farming approaches.
When a production target has to be achieved and maintained for meeting substantial local or foreign market demand, the answer in the majority of cases may be large-scale production. Small-scale aquaculture can often make a greater impact on local consumption, but maintaining regular supplies to distant markets can prove more difficult and expensive for small holders. As well as the economies of scale in production, economic arrangements for storage, transport and processing are inherent strengths of large operations. It also becomes possible to be more self-reliant in the supplies of inputs.The volume of products may allow the owners to have their own processing and marketing arrangements. It also becomes possible to introduce mechanization in many of the operations if necessary and so save labour, increasing cost-effectiveness. The magnitude of operations often justifies and enables the maintenance of in-house expertise and in some cases even problem-oriented research and on-the-job training of field personnel.
Experience gained so far has shown the crucial importance of effective management in the successful implementation of aquaculture. Large-scale enterprises make it possible to recruit and maintain experienced managers and thus improve the chances of success. Small-scale aquaculture has often to depend on special credit arrangements organized by government institutions. Larger enterprises can in most cases depend on existing industrial or agro-industrial financing, including raising of capital through public financing and sales of shares in the open market.
Another advantage of larger aquaculture enterprises is the potential to maintain more efficient security arrangements for the farm stock. Poaching and wanton killing of stocks are problems faced in varying degrees in almost all countries, but when the farm is small and production consequently small, the cost of keeping an adequate security staff or installing safety equipment may prove prohibitive.
While there are a number of advantages of the type mentioned above in large-scale operations, there are also some disadvantages. An important one is the need to start with tested technologies suited to such operations. Many of the traditional practices, which can easily be adopted in small farms, may not be suitable for large farms, as for example reliance on wild caught fry for rearing, maintenance of algal pastures for feeding in grow-out facilities, etc.
The greater capital outlay needed and the requirements of raising such capital on the open market bring in a number of limitations. Besides the normal investment criteria such as expected rate of return, payback period, degree of risk, etc., the investor will have to compare financial benefits from aquaculture with those from alternative ventures. Generally speaking one can say that the larger the farm, the longer the start-up period. Even when the construction and operation are phased, it may take some time before the shareholders can expect reasonable returns on their investments. It may well be that production and therefore incomes are low in the early stages. The possibility of compensating low profits from primary production by higher profits from marketing and, in the case of export-oriented aquaculture, the incentives offered by the State may to some extent offset these disadvantages.
One other problem with regard to large-scale aquaculture that needs to be mentioned is the disposal of higher quantities of waste water or pollutants. It is preferable to recycle the wastes, but when this is not possible suitable waste treatment facilities will have to be provided. The spread of diseases through the discharge of farm effluents must also be avoided by suitable effluent treatment.
A national development plan has necessarily to assess the magnitude of investment required to achieve the targeted production and determine possible sources. As aquaculture procedures are diverse and depend on the systems and species cultured, uniform models for estimating investment costs and carrying out project analysis cannot be expected. In any case, for planning purposes only rough estimates of costs and returns of sample operations will be needed. The most useful data for such estimates would be commercial or pilot-scale aquaculture carried out within the country. In the absence of such data, nearest approximations, based on experience in more or less similar circumstances in comparable countries, have to be used. Methods of calculating the financial and economic feasibility of projects, including internal rates of return. An appropriate method has to be used to determine the potential viability of the selected aquaculture systems in the country. To estimate the impact of aquaculture enterprises on the national economy, the methods of determining direct and secondary benefits. It will also be useful to determine the contribution that the aquaculture sector can make to the gross national product (GNP) and foreign exchange earnings or savings of the country in specified periods of time. These estimates could form the basis for proposals for financing various actions required under the plan.
The plan period may, in many cases, depend on the period of the overall ‘national economic development plan’, if one exists. Where none exists, a suitable period for an aquaculture plan has to be determined, based on the activities proposed and their phasing. Many such plans have selected a period of five to ten years, with details of development activities and budgetary provisions on an annual basis. A suitable mechanism for the coordination and review of plan activities in both public and private sectors would be very valuable. Any long-term development plan would need periodic reviews to determine the relevance of each activity, appropriateness and effectiveness of its implementation, budgetary requirements, benefits of the projects including the removal of remaining constraints and modification of implementational strategies. The need for such reviews in the case of projects formulated on the basis of limited data and experience has been emphasized earlier in connection with socially oriented small-scale aquaculture. Being a new and fast-developing science, considerable changes in technologies can be expected to occur in short periods of time. This is also true for market conditions, particularly in respect of export products, and this may necessitate changes in technology or the nature of the products. So, provision for flexibility in plan implementation and the ability to revise project objectives should the need arise are essential features of a realistic plan.