Is Aquaculture a Viable Solution for Food Insecurity?By Sofía Hanna | Fri, 07/08/2022 - 18:09
The pandemic, supply chain interruptions, conflicts and humanitarian crises are increasingly threatening the functioning of global agrifood systems. Acute food insecurity trends continue to advance, greatly affecting food availability in the short and long term. Aquaculture and fisheries can help to alleviate these growing problems.
“We are at serious risk of facing a food access crisis now, and probably a food availability crisis for the next season. All this has put at risk our efforts to achieve the SDGs. We must prevent the acceleration of acute food insecurity trends in the coming months and years,” said QU Dongyu, Director-General, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The main priorities should be investment in the countries most in need, policies that increase productivity and protect natural resources, more efficient use of available inputs and outputs and innovation, science and research, according to FAO.
Currently, only 8 percent of all food security funding for emergencies goes toward agricultural production. However, investing in agriculture and rural livelihoods is seven to 10 times more cost-effective than traditional assistance. An effort must be made to ensure better and more efficient use of available outputs and inputs, especially those worsening global water stress, food loss and waste, according to FAO. The use of fertilizers more efficiently has become a must, especially since supply chain interruptions have made it difficult for farmers to acquire the amount they used to have for crop production.
Aquatic food production could be used to reduce the pressure put on agricultural producers. “While the world faces daunting challenges, there is a great opportunity in the fisheries and aquaculture sector. Sustainable and inclusive aquatic food systems improve rights, incomes and livelihoods of fishing and fish farming communities,” said Dongyu.
However, the sector has not been a priority for many governments. “Investment into aquaculture has been slow in comparison with other industries, such as tech, into which venture capital firms have been pouring money at a rapid rate,” said Ross Gordon, CEO, of Aquaculture Advisory, during an interview with MBN.
Aquatic food production is an opportunity that could further help food security but without urgent action to conserve, protect, restore and sustainably manage marine ecosystems, the ocean will not be able to provide food security and economic prosperity. Expanding aquaculture production could support millions of livelihoods that are already struggling with food safety.