Tilapia ponds and team in Bangladesh


Malawi, Bangladesh and India are listed as Low Income, Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) by the FAO and aquaculture makes a significant contribution to poverty alleviation by the supply of food and income to resource-poor people in rural and urban areas of these countries.


India has a long history of fish production, dating back over 1000 years, with intensive production, particularly in its southern states, occurring for more than 100 years. Aquaculture production has increased 11-fold since the 1950s and reached 9.6 million tonnes during 2012–13. India now ranks second globally in terms of fish production (>4.5million tonnes, >$10bn).The freshwater aquaculture systems in India is dominated by three Indian major carps; catla (Catla catla), rohu (Labeo rohita) and mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala) followed by silver carp, grass carp and common carp. In recent years there has been increased interest in farming giant river prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) and air breathing fishes. Intensive and semi-intensive shrimp farming in brackish water and seawater systems has also been developed in India since the 1990s with indigenous tiger shrimps (Penaeus monodon) and Indian white shrimp (Penaeus indicus). Shrimp aquaculture in India was decimated by the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in the late 1990s and production stagnated below 0.2 million tonnes until the introduction of American whiteleg shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) in 2009. Of the potential brackish water area of 1.2 million ha available for aquaculture in India, only 0.152 million ha is presently being utilised for shrimp farming leaving huge scope for further development. Indian seafood exports fetched $5.5 billion during 2014-15 and it touched $6.6 billion in 2015-2016.  Shrimp aquaculture is currently pegged above 0.43 million tonnes with over 80% contribution coming from Penaeus vannamei.


Bangladesh has an expanding aquaculture industry, with a doubling in production in the past 5 years (currently ≈ 2 million tonnes @ $2bn). In south and south western Bangladesh shrimp (especially Penaeus monodon) production dominates the industry and shrimp constitutes the second highest value export commodity (c.a. $400m). More than 244,000 ha of land in southern Bangladesh are now registered as used for shrimp or prawn culture and this supports the livelihoods of more than 600,000 people including farmers and service providers, such as traders and processors (Belton et al WorldFish Center 2011). Finfish culture is important too with pond culture dominated by carp production but with production of tilapia and pangasius catfish of increasing importance and currently exceeding 335,000 tonnes.


Annual aquaculture growth was most rapid in Africa between 2000 and 2010 (11.7 percent).  Africa currently has a total population of 1.11 billion which is predicted to double by 2050 leading to increased food demand. Despite an increasing demand for fish in sub-Saharan Africa, there is marginal production due to limited knowledge and available technology.  The total aquaculture production from Africa is currently ≈ 1.7mt ($3.6bn) - around half of that produced in India and equivalent to the output from Bangladesh (  Malawi is a country with high per capita fish demand (currently the 3rd highest in Africa) but relatively low production output from aquaculture (≈3kt, $12m in 2013). In the context of food security and trade, the Government of Malawi has announced policies to increase production to 30kt per annum by 2030; a desire emulated more broadly across the continent.