Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

PROSHIKA’s Aquaculture Extension Approaches for Sustainable Rural Development in Bangladesh

Md. Abdur Rahman, Prohlad Chandra Dey


PROSHIKA, headquartered in Dhaka, is one of the largest national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for development in Bangladesh. Since its inception in 1976, PROSHIKA has been both pioneer and practitioner of a holistic development strategy to empower the poor people of Bangladesh and reduce their poverty. PROSHIKA has introduced several employment- and income-generating activities that ensure job opportunities and socioeconomic advancement for the poor, of which the Fisheries Development Program is one of the most important programs. The goal of the program is “poverty alleviation and improvement of nutritional status through increased aquaculture-and capture fisheries–related income and employment.” Its objectives are

• to provide various types of aquaculture-related training to target groups to ensure effective technology transfer for the sustainable development of aquaculture,
• to create scope-of-employment and income-generating opportunities for rural poor people and fishers by providing credit,
• to increase the capacity of poor people and fishers to gain access to derelict pond and open-water fishery resources to encourage community management approaches,
• to increase fish production to fulfill the nutritional requirements of the rural poor, and
• to increase the fingerling production of desired species to meet the demand of poor rural fish farmers.

In Bangladesh, the fisheries sector is an important contributor to income, empowerment, nutrition, and foreign exchange earnings because of the country’s vast fishery potential, both within its boundaries and in the territorial and economic zones of the sea. The total inland freshwater area is estimated to be 4.37 million hectares (ha), including 0.137 million ha of coastal shrimp farms. About 1.90 million ponds cover an area of 0.14 million ha, of which 24% require reexcavation for aquaculture.

Fisheries provide direct income to about 1.2 million poor people, who constitute 10% of the national labor force. In addition, about 11 million people indirectly earn their livelihood from fisheries-related activities; this number peaks during the monsoon season, from June to October. Fish supplies about 60% of an individual’s animal protein intake in Bangladesh (FFYP 1997).

The contributions of the fisheries sector as a whole to Bangladesh’s gross domestic product, export earnings, and agricultural earnings are about 5, 8, and 17%, respectively (DOF 1997). Fishery production in 2000 was 1.37 million tons, and annual production could increase to 3.0 million tons/year if scientific technology were introduced in aquaculture practiced by the rural poor.

Considering the important contribution of the fisheries sector, PROSHIKA takes appropriate measures to promote aquaculture and the use of water resources through organized groups.

PROSHIKA works on behalf of poor people in 16,357 villages, 939 slums, and 1,726 unions (i.e., several village- and local-level government institutions) in 57 districts within 187 area development centers (ADCs). A total of 1,905,497 members (1,066,779 female and 838,718 male) make up 98,873 primary groups. About 144 fisheries technology workers have been working in 120 ADCs to ensure the proper transfer of information regarding aquaculture technology, monitoring, and supervision. In the head office, nine fisheries experts provide technical support; conduct training; coordinate with the government and other agencies; and monitor, plan, and implement aquaculture activities within the ADCs.