World Aquaculture Society Meetings

Add To Calendar 26/02/2016 08:30:0026/02/2016 08:50:00America/ChicagoAquaculture 2016EFFICIENCY IN AQUACULTURE BurgundyThe World Aquaculture Societyjohnc@was.orgfalseanrl65yqlzh3g1q0dme13067DD/MM/YYYY


Randall Brummett
World Bank  

Improving the efficiency of the food production system to accommodate predicted increases in the human population while protecting as much natural space and biodiversity as possible has been the focus of much discussion in conservation and development circles. In an analysis of global food security in the context of the Anthropocene Epoch, the UK Office of Science has proposed "Sustainable Intensification", using less land and water to produce more food, another way of describing efficiency, as the best way forward in reconciling the needs of people and biodiversity.

There are three components of efficiency as it relates to food production in general, and aquaculture in particular:

•      Ecological Efficiency

•      Technical (or Economic) Efficiency

•      Administrative Efficiency (aka political economics or policy)

Ecological Efficiency is sustainable intensification. The logic derives from the "Sharing Vs Sparing" debate in ecology, the essential question being: do we conserve more land and water and protect more biodiversity through low-intensity or organic systems, which produce less per unit area, but use less chemicals and soil-damaging cultivation practices associated with the Green Revolution, or do we heavily intensify our culture systems to generate more food with higher external inputs and thus leave aside more wild space for nature.

Technical Efficiency seeks to increase the profitability of production systems. To the extent that markets for environmental goods and services function properly, increasing the amount of output from the system per unit of input will drive improved profits.

Administrative Efficiency is the key to levelling the playing field for farmers to compete in a more sustainable global food production system. Managing multidimensional farming systems that rely on cutting edge technology is a business nightmare. Being a successful farmer using tried and true methods is already difficult. Add multiple cropping systems and innovative approaches that require local adaptation and profitability generally plummets. This is the main reason why our food production systems remain dependent upon monocropping and the heavy use of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers. Subsidies, in the form of payment for ecosystems services, are often required to help farmers through the often financially painful transition to more ecologically and technically efficient production systems.

We should not have to face choices between food or nature and food or jobs. It is the responsibility of food security and conservation policy makers and development planners to develop efficient administrative and management mechanisms to transform ecologically and technically efficient technologies into environmentally friendly economic growth and food security.

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