Change and diversity in smallholder rice-fish systems: Recent evidence from Bangladesh
Efforts to unlock the genetic potential of both rice and fish, when combined with efforts to improve the management of riceâ€“fish systems, have considerable proven potential for increasing agricultural productivity and food security. In Bangladesh, estimates suggest that the countryâ€™s potential riceâ€“fish production system encompasses between two and three million hectares of land. Despite three decades of research on biophysical and technical aspects of riceâ€“fish systems, this potential has not been realized fully due to insufficient attention given to the social, economic, and policy dimensions of system improvement. This paper provides a characterization of the diverse and changing nature of riceâ€“fish systems in Bangladesh by combining data from a novel upazilla-level (sub-district-level) survey of fishery officers with household surveys, focus group discussions, and a meta-review of the literature on aquaculture in the country. The resulting analysis sheds new light on the economic viability of different riceâ€“fish systems and recommends policy and investment options to further improve the development and delivery of riceâ€“fish technologies. Findings indicate that in addition to concurrent riceâ€“fish systems, alternating riceâ€“fish systems and collectively managed systems offer considerable potential for increasing productivity and farm incomes in Bangladesh. Findings also suggest that although the emergent innovation system around these riceâ€“fish systems is fairly dynamic, there is a need for more supportive policies and investmentsâ€”and analysis of the intended and unintended impacts of these policies and investments.
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