CATIE

Aquafarms+ Eradicating hunger by farming the sea, lakes and floodplains

Lead Organization

CATIE

Turrialba, Provincia de Cartago, Costa Rica

http://www.catie.ac.cr/en

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

As agriculture faces growing water and climate-crisis limitations, we will shift paradigms and add extensive sea and inland aquatic areas for managed food production in developing countries—truly forging the second green revolution the world needs. While building awareness, capacity and demand for products, we will empower fisher and rural communities to implement proven plant-based aquatic food production technologies, complemented with eco-friendly fish aquaculture and enhanced fisheries, to produce nutritious food consumed by the entire population. While we focus on food, this solution will help solve multiple other problems for billions of people, like freeing land for reforestation and water for human consumption. To effectively do this, we have assembled a remarkably capable team of experienced organizations and the support of many in-country collaborators. We all share the vision and know-how to establish the path to a more resilient and well-fed planet, where hunger will become a thing of the past.

Problem Statement

World demand for food is rapidly growing, while production continues to falter, particularly in developing countries, where billions of people suffer hunger, nutritional deficiencies and food insecurity, severely limiting their human potential. The ability to end hunger by 2030 is being questioned. Despite well-funded research efforts to increase agricultural production, the myriad of partial solutions provided to date will at best only produce marginal improvements. We urgently need a major shift in how we produce our food, treating the cause and not only the effects. As over 1000 liters of water are required to produce one kilogram of grain, agriculture productivity is limited by water and the availability of suitable land. Irrigation uses 70% of the world’s available water (90% in some countries, like India) thwarting population access to water, sanitation and hygiene. Climate change aggravates the situation through heat waves, higher rainfall variability, droughts, floods and sea level rise. Agriculture alone cannot overcome the production problems caused by water limitations and the associated climate-related risks and risk-aversion from farmers. Neither can we rely on traditional fisheries to meet our growing demand, as they are already at full capacity, dwindling or severely over-exploited like in African lakes and many coastal-seas. Food scarcity and prices can easily escalate at short notice, while deforestation for agriculture and aquatic pollution with nutrient run-off from land continue unabated. It is now time for a major science-backed technological thrust, based on solving the food production crisis through shifting focus to our seas, lakes and floodplains.

Solution Overview

Food production can be expanded to cover the current deficit and meet the growing demand by farming the aquatic environment. The sea, lakes and floodplains cover over 75% of the planetary surface. Millions of impoverished fisher and rural families, in 74 developing countries we have identified, could benefit from adding aquatic farming to their income-generating activities, while contributing to their country’s food production. Aquafarms+ will help them implement existing technologies to produce nutritious food for themselves and the broader population by: i) cultivating seaweeds at sea, while vigorously promoting this highly nutritionally valuable crop; ii) cultivating in lakes and floodplains floating horticultural crops and aquatic plants for food and other uses; and iii) complementing this with filter-feeding and herbivore fish and shellfish aquaculture and fisheries enhancement. Each of these solutions are well-proven technologies, our innovation is to combine them into a unified and strong initiative that can take nutritious global food production to the next level. As indicators of progress, we would expect to see in our partner countries; i) governments supporting pro-aquafood actions and policies; ii) increasing production and capacity to install and operate the systems and generate income and employment from them; and iii) an increase in population consumption of different aquafoods in their daily diet. The project will have a deep and intense impact on 16 representative countries, whereas the remaining 58 countries will have a less intense, yet broadscale impact--having in all created an irreversible momentum that will make aquatic food production and consumption ‘commonplace’.

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Project Funders

  • UK Research and Innovation 2017 - 2021
  • FAO and KOICA

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