Arid aquaculture can provide livelihood for residents of worlds drylands

November 12th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 12 (ANI): Researchers have cited arid aquaculture as an effective potential alternative livelihood for people living in desertified parts of the worlds expanding drylands.

The option came up as part of a research by the United Nations University (UNU), the International Centre on Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas (ICARDA), and UNESCOs Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program.

Drylands constitute more than 40 percent of the global land area and provide a wide range of fundamental ecosystem goods and services. They are home to nearly a third of the global population, about 2 billion in all, over 90 percent of whom live in developing countries.

Residents of drylands, many of whom are the worlds poorest of the poor, employ highly vulnerable livelihood strategies that depend on land productivity, warns the report by the researchers.

According to the researchers, alternatives to traditional crop farming and livestock rearing will need to be put in place in drylands in order to mitigate human causes of desertification.

One such alternative is arid aquaculture, which involves using ponds filled with salty, undrinkable water for fish production.

While it may sound far-fetched, researchers say using briny water to establish aquaculture in a dry, degraded part of Pakistan not only introduced a new source of income, it helped improve nutrition through diet diversification.

The researchers also showed it possible to cultivate some varieties of vegetables with the same type of brackish water.

The report said that since arid aquaculture does not primarily depend on land productivity, it has the potential to reduce the pressure on the fragile resource base in marginal drylands.

At the same time, these strategies proved to yield significantly higher income per investment than traditional land-based livelihoods, it added.

The key message is that innovations are needed to ensure long-term sustainability of communities and to avoid rapid desertification in the face of growing population pressures, said report co-author Zafar Adeel, Director of UNUs International Network on Water, Environment and Health.

According to Adeel, people living in drylands need more than advice.

They need help from all quarters and all levels of government to make their future existence in these places possible. The alternative will be a potential migration out of drylands in two or three generations that will stagger the worlds coping capacity, he said.

These new developments bring a sense of optimism to dryland communities who have lived under the doom and gloom scenarios for their environment over the last 20 years or so, he added. (ANI)

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