Fisheries crucial for food security

Fisheries are vital to reduce the malnutrition rate and improve food security in Myanmar.

The World Fisheries Day, which is taking place today, is of significance for Myanmar because the country’s population has around 50 percent of their average protein intake from fish. Fisheries are vital for food security and nutrition for Myanmar’s young and growing populace.

The Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP) is supporting the sustainable intensification of aquaculture production in the country. Funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, MYSAP is a five-year Department of Fisheries programme implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaftfuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The initiative focuses on developing nutrient-rich small indigenous species, which are traditionally eaten whole, thus passing on all essential micronutrients.

“It is important to produce especially low-cost aquaculture products to improve access for disadvantaged people living in fish-deficit regions.

“Within MYSAP, we will focus our nutrition-related interventions on increasing fish consumption by women of reproductive age and young children,” Uwe Scholz, programme head, said.

People in Myanmar generally prefer to consume fish products, compared to other protein sources, with average consumption levels estimated between 26-34 kg per capita every year. The fish products come in a variety of forms, such as grilled, in a curry, as fish paste and fish oil. The organisation added that one daily traditional meal of rice and sour soup with small indigenous iron-rich fish can meet 45pc of the daily iron requirement of a female.

The majority of households in the country live along the four main rivers, in the delta regions and coastal regions. The sector not only feeds the vast number of inhabitants, but directly employs three million people and serves as a major source of foreign income.

However, due to unsustainable management of marine and inland fisheries, wild stocks have rapidly declined over the past decades. Myanmar is among 24 “high-burden” countries, ranked by the largest number of chronically malnourished children under the age of five. Thus, aquaculture development is prioritised by the government, which recently launched a large-scale campaign to tackle malnutrition.

Source : Myanmar Times

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