The Philippines is one of the 11 countries worldwide that participates in an EU-funded study to determine the role of aquaculture in food security, poverty alleviation and nutrition (AFSPAN), which is being coordinated by FAO. The main objective of the project is to be able to quantify the contribution of aquaculture towards food security, poverty alleviation and nutrition.
Aside from the Philippines, other partner countries include Bangladesh, China, India and Vietnam in Asia; Kenya, Uganda and Zambia in Africa; Brazil, Chile and Nicaragua in South America. The project is composed of 9 working packages and one of the work packages is to develop methodologies that will effectively quantify the contribution of aquaculture to food security, poverty alleviation and nutrition in a global scale. This is a very challenging task considering the differences in how aquaculture is practiced in various countries in the world.
Towards this, a survey of farms and households involved in aquaculture in the Philippines was conducted from March-June 2013 using questionnaires that were carefully crafted to be “universal in application”. For the farm surveys, the Philippines focus is on the top four commodities that are produced in the country and these are seaweeds, milkfish, tilapia and shrimp. Similarly, the household surveys include the families that are involved in the production of these commodities. The surveys were done all over the country targeting about 120 representative farmers and families who are cultivating the target commodities and covering small-scale, medium-scale and large-scale operations.
With the recent catastrophe of super typhoon “Haiyan” that hit the central part of the Philippines on 8 November 2013, the question that is being asked now is how fast the fisheries and aquaculture sector can recover from the massive destruction. An early recovery is what is hoped for by everyone so that fish supply for domestic consumption and for the international trade will not be significantly affected.