Food security And Future of Aquaculture in Pakistan

Pakistan is an agricultural country with 70 % of its population living in rural areas and has role in agriculture sector.

By M. Tariq Javed, Afsheen Fazil, Amna Kanwal, M. Atif Raza

Due to increasing worldwide population, food security has become a  serious concern leading to poverty and unemployment. The current population of Pakistan is 219,511,630 according to United Nations data and is equal to 2.83% of the total world population. Protein requirement is also increasing with increasing global population .This condition is threatening and has elevated great alarms for government and other organizations. According to Economic Survey of Pakistan (2018-2019), Agriculture provides 18.5% to the country GDP and Livestock has share of 60.54 % in agriculture and 11.22 percent in GDP. Due to poor productivity of fodder crops, the performance of agriculture sector remained short in last decade.

The growth in agriculture sector was estimated about 0.85%. The negative growth of about 4.4 percent during 2019 was mainly due to negative production (-6.6 percent) of important crops. Livestock sector has shown growth of 4%. Allah has blessed Pakistan with a variety of livestock. It not only provides food security by supplying milk, meat but also employment to both men and women and has role to eliminate the poverty.
Regular supply of adequate and nutritious fodder is important for the growth of livestock. The main and economical source of feedstuff for livestock are the fodder crops. However, the main warning factor for livestock growth in our country is the deficiency of fodder production. This situation is getting worse due to decrease in fodder area in previous years along with two fodderscarcity periods i.e one in winter season (November to January) and other in summer season (May-June).

It is important to increase the agriculture production by increasing per acre yield for food security. Pakistan has rich production potential in agriculture, livestock and fisheries but for economic growth and prosperity, the development of these sectors is important.

As we are facing the problems of food security we have to look for the alternatives of protein sources to meet the protein demands of increasing population. Aquaculture is a very feasible method of food (protein) production and is more effective than production of cattle, pork, pigs and chicken. Many problems like malnourishment, weakness and high infant mortality can develop due to deficiency of proteins in humans. This situation can be handled by increasing fish production. Fish is a source of animal protein, provides essential nutrients and reduces the problems related with eyes, bone breakage, memory loss, liver and kidneys.
Therefore increasing the intake of fish is a good substitute for food security as well as a good source of animal protein. The secondary source of protein in Pakistan is fish. The major water protein is fish that delivers 7% of total protein and provides 80% consumption of animal protein. Per capita annual intake of fish in Pakistan is very low i.e 1.9kg while in advanced countries it is 20 kg.

Aquaculture systems which are being used worldwide include fresh water ponds and tanks, fresh water cages, coastal ponds and tanks, coastal cage farms and marine aquaculture. Pakistan is blessed with natural water resources. There is an area of about 8,563,820 km 2 in the form of marine water , fresh water, rivers, ponds, lakes and water lodging areas that are the main reservoirs of aquaculture. This area is appropriate for aquaculture production. There is an area of about 1120km along the coast line that has great potential for aquaculture .Pakistan has an area of about 350 nautical miles (Exclusive Economic Zone) in its control.

Vast resources are present for aquaculture production but there is no evolution in fisheries sector and resources are not being utilized. The main reason is the aquaculture practice. Extensive and semi intensive aquaculture system is practiced only in fresh water. For aquaculture, deep marine and coastal water resources are not being used. So, from the marine side, we are relying on the natural water resources.

Fish production from natural catch is 600,000 metric tons and 179,900 metric tons from aquaculture. The share of aquaculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 1%. Capture fisheries has major involvement due to very limited culture .There is an increase in price of fish, due to more input and less output and with growing demand of population.

For efficient aquaculture production all the water resources should be utilized properly. Water diversion should be done in rivers and canals by which controlled amount water is send to the pond and that water can again become the part of river. In long rivers, channels and canals pockets should be made for efficient utilization of water. All the reservoirs, lakes, earthen ponds and tanks should be used for aquaculture production. Efforts should be made to introduce the cage culture, recirculatory and integrated aquaculture in Pakistan.

Poultry droppings can be used as a source of fish feed. Poultry droppings and feather meal are first boiled then dried and crushed to form pellets. These pellets can be used as feed in ponds. When poultry waste is processed by thermal treatment, its protein digestibility increases. If we add yeast, quality of fish feed can be improved. Hence, the aquaculture has a great potential to provide a cheaper animal protein source to its people. It also has great export potential and can help in earning revenue.

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Jarwar, A.M.A. 2008. A status overview of fisheries and aquaculture development in Pakistan
with context to other Asian countries. Aquaculture Asia. 13: 13-18. MINFAL PK. Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock Pakistan. Website, 2012. FAO. National Aquaculture Sector Overview: Pakistan. Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. 2017. Das, H. 2018. Aquaculture: A new trend and a big opportunity in Sindh, Pakistan. Journal of Aquaculture. 22: 26-27.

Authors : M. Tariq Javed, Afsheen Fazil, Amna Kanwal, M. Atif Raza
Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.

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