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Change and diversity in smallholder rice–fish systems: Recent evidence and policy lessons from Bangladesh

Madan M. Dey, David Spielman (), A.B.M.M. Haque, M.S. Rahman and R. Valmonte-Santos

Food Policy, 2013, vol. 43, issue C, 108-117

Abstract: Efforts to unlock the genetic potential of both rice and fish, when combined with improvements in the management of rice–fish systems, can potentially increase agricultural productivity and food security in some of the poorest and most populous countries in Asia. In Bangladesh, estimates suggest that the country’s potential rice–fish production system encompasses 2–3 million hectares of land. But despite three decades of research on biophysical and technical aspects of rice–fish systems, this potential has not been fully realized due to insufficient attention given to the social, economic, and policy dimensions of rice–fish system improvement. This paper provides a characterization of the diverse and changing nature of rice–fish systems in Bangladesh to shed new light on the economic viability of different rice–fish systems and recommend policy and investment options to accelerate the development of appropriate rice–fish technologies. Data are drawn from a novel subdistrict-level survey of fishery officers, a household/enterprise survey, focus group discussions, and a meta-review of the literature on aquaculture in the country, all of which were conducted in 2010–2011. Findings indicate that concurrent rice–fish systems, alternating rice–fish systems, and collectively managed systems offer considerable potential for increasing productivity and farm incomes in Bangladesh. Findings also suggest that while innovation in these rice–fish systems is being driven by households and communities, there is need for more supportive government policies and investments to enable further innovation. Policymakers need to develop effective regulations to promote feed and fish quality and quantity, for example. More rigorous analysis of the intended and unintended impacts of these policies and investments is also necessary.

Keywords: Rice–fish systems; Productivity; Income; Food; Bangladesh (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2013.08.011

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