Building the Foundation for a Future with Fish in the Inle Lake Region

With the support of MYSAP, another aquaculture growing season has been completed in the Inle Lake Region. Time for us to look back at what has been achieved by the fish farmers and the project.

The Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP) is funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In the Inle Lake Region, MYSAP is working in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries to strengthen all actors along the aquaculture value chain.

From July 2019 until May 2020, MYSAP has provided technical trainings, extension services and material support to a total of 64 fish farmers in six villages in the Inle Lake Region. During several participatory training workshops, the farmers have been learning about the essentials of good practice aquaculture. Trainings covered a range of topics, such as pond and cage net preparation, stocking, feeding strategies, integrated systems, sustainability and financial literacy.

At the beginning of the growing season, each fish farmer received 1000 to 3000 fingerlings of Grass Carp, Common Carp, Inle Carp, Rohu to stock their ponds accordingly. Additionally, fish farmers received cage nets for nursery and farming.

Throughout the year, technical development advisors from MYSAP, as well as technical consultants, visited all fish farmers on a regular basis to provide further support and to tackle potential challenges.

One year has passed, and farmers have adopted the training contents so well that they report an increase in fish production (from 8,500 kg in 2019 to 10,500 kg in 2020), higher survival rate (from around 30% to an average 42%) and an overall higher income due to more fish. U Moe Myint Win is the farmer group leader in Pauk Par, a floating village on the Inle Lake. He and the other farmers are cultivating Common Carp and Grass Carp in net cages below or next to their houses and are selling their fish for up to MMK 4,000 (€2.5) per viss (1.63 kg), which equals € 1,53 per kg. U Moe Myint Win reported that they sell fish of different sizes, but on average 60 viss (97.8 kg) per month, which is up to an extra MMK 240,000 (€153.4) per month (lowest average income in Myanmar is around MKK 130,000 – MMK 200,000). The effort they must invest in caring for their fish is little, therefore, the fish farmers of Pauk Par are able to focus also on other businesses such as tourism, carpeting or sewing.

Yay Pyon Gyi and Ma Kyee Sake village are only a few kilometres away, located on land close to the lake. Water availability is also not an issue here. Motivated by the support of MYSAP, farmers have built new ponds or renewed abandoned ponds to further increase their production. In total, 14.6 additional hectares have been brought into fish production. The surrounding lands are used for growing vegetables, fruits and livestock. These integrated systems are not only diversifying income opportunities, but also using by-product utilization to further improve sustainability. Outputs of one system can be used as input for another system, such as manure from livestock and garden waste as fish feed.

While some issues, such as theft, drought or flooding remain, most farmers have established aquaculture as a solid business and are satisfied with their performance. MYSAP will not only continue to support these fish farmers over the next 10 months (July 2020 – May 2021) with further trainings and workshops (e.g. on climate change mitigation) but will also start training another 60 fish farmers, who haven’t received any support yet. MYSAP will also continue supporting the DoF hatchery in Nyaung Shwe to ensure the availability of high-quality fingerlings of Grass Carp, Common Carp, Inle Carp, Rohu and small indigenous fish species for the region.

MYSAP is supporting the improvement of all actors along the value chain. That includes not only inputs and production, but also processing and marketing. Therefore, workshops on further value creation will complete the fish value chain and further diversify income generation. The making of value-added fishery products and relevant processing methods, such as dried fish, fish balls, fish cracker and fish murruku, as well as hygiene, storage, packaging and labelling will be trained to farmer households, small-scale fish processors, vendors and market sellers in different locations across Shan State.