Departmental Reports


Title:

Impacts of Integrated Fish Culture on Resource Limited Farms in Guatemala and Panama



Author(s):

Lovshin, L., N. Schwartz and U. Hatch



Date: 2000



Funding Agency: USAID



Keywords: panama, guatemala, aquaculture, development, international



Category: International Country Report



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Summary/Recommendations/Objectives:

The
study evaluated the status of fish culture projects

initiated in the 1980s on resource-poor farms in

Guatemala and Panama. ln both places, USAID provided

financial
assistance and Auburn University provided

technical support to the respective governments. The

study examined the impact of aquaculture technology,

extension services, local socio-economic condition ,

and
pol icy environments on the projects. The evaluation

team (an aquaculturalist, an agricultural economist

and a social anthropologist) had
a rare opportunity to

evaluate sustainability of two different types of fish farming

projects. Other ex-post evaluations of aquaculture

projects occur shortly after external support has ended,

rather than after 14 and 9 years as was the case in

Panama
and Guatemala.

The projects in Guatemala and Panama were

designed to improve the nutrition and income of poor

farmers, and participants were to become self-sufficient

pond managers by the end of the project. The critical

difference is that in Guatemala fish ponds were managed

by individual families on their farms, and in Panama

more complex fish pond modules were managed by

organized groups of farmers.

In central and eastern Guatemala, the team visited

37 family and 2 cooperative fish pond projects between

9 and 19 June, 1998. After the team left, a household

survey was administered to these 37 families and another

9 families. So far as was possible, households were randomly

selected from a list of 651 farm families known to

have had functioning fish ponds when external financing

was withdrawn in 1989. The team found that 39.0%

of the ponds are abandoned, 48.0% are under-utilized

and 13.0% are well-managed. The fish ponds did not

have the intended impact on household nutrition and

income for a combination of technical, domestic, economic,

social and broad political reasons. These include

problematic water supplies to the ponds, lack of sufficient

nutrients entering ponds to increase fish yield,

theft, inconsistent technical assistance because of civil

unrest and changing policy environments, and changing

participant priorities linked to changes in household

needs over the years. In Panama, the team
visited 21 cooperative fish

pond
projects between 20 June and 3 July, 1998. After

the team left, a household survey was administered to

115 current or former project members. The team found

that
6 projects had been completely abandoned, and 15

were being used to grow rice and/or fish. Only two projects

still in use were well-managed. Fish ponds did not

have the intended impact on household nutrition and

income
for a combination of technical, domestic, economic,

social and broad political reasons. These include

too little water to maintain pond water level during the

dry season, lack of sufficient nutrient entering ponds to

increase fish yield, inconsistent technical assistance

related to changing government strategies, a lack of

managerial and business skills on the part of project

group leaders, over-dependence on local elites and/or

government for various types of assistance, and macrosocial

and political changes.

Typically, abandonment or poor performance resulted

from a combination of technical, economic and

social factors, each playing on and amplifying the other.

In both countries, many project participants who maintained

their ponds did so to irrigate gardens, water animals,

or as flooded rice paddies. Thus, although the

projects did not meet intended goals related to fish culture,

participants found ways to benefit from the existence

of the ponds. In Panama 15 of 21 cooperatively

managed pond projects and in Guatemala 28 of 46 individual

household pond projects are still used at some

level of proficiency.

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