Rapid Assessment of subsistence fishing and poultry rearing along with horticulture among the household beneficiaries of Phase 3 of Suchana program in Sylhet and Moulvibazar

Suchana: Ending the cycle of undernutrition in Bangladesh is a multi-sectoral nutrition program that aims to achieve a significant reduction in stunting amongst children under two years of age in Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts of Bangladesh by catalyzing support across government and other stakeholders. Suchana has adopted an integrated approach delivering both nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions to prevent chronic malnutrition within the critical first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The program is led by Save the Children and involves WorldFish, HKI, IDE, icddr,b, CNRS, FIVDB and RDRS as consortium partners. DFID and the European Union are providing the financial support. Besides the promotion of nutrition-sensitive fish and vegetable production systems, WorldFish is also supporting on subsistence fishing opportunities at the beneficiary households of Suchana program especially those households didn’t have access to pond but have access to fishing at nearby open water. Small-scale poultry rearing was also integrated there based on interest and feasibility of individual household. Fishing is one of the most ancient livelihood options. Still, it is very effective and popular to many households globally. Based on statistic from Department of Fisheries, capture fisheries contributed 28.45 percent to total national fish production in 2017-18. Sylhet is one of the leading regions for inland capture fisheries areas in the country. Besides plethora of the ponds and ditches, numbers of rivers, canals, haors, beels and floodplains are also available there. So, larger proportions of households have access to fishing there. Up to November 2019, a total 4,354 BHHs have received subsistence fishing related supports besides the common horticulture package including training and some essential inputs. Out of those, 331 BHHs have received supports on only subsistence fishing, 16 BHHs have received supports on subsistence fishing and fish drying, and 4,007 BHHs have received supports on subsistence fishing and small-scale poultry rearing. As a pilot initiative, WorldFish conducted a rapid assessment to capture the level of outcomes from the interventions of subsistence fishing and related supports. It was mainly a quantitative survey following rapid assessment methodologies where total sample size was 90 BHHs. As there was no baseline assessment of these households, no comparisons was possible with the current findings. Based on study findings, there was very encouraging progress in harvesting and usage of fish, poultry birds (chicken and duck), eggs and vegetables at the beneficiary households. They harvested diversified species of fish, and collected good numbers of eggs and wider varieties of vegetables; and more importantly a good proportion of their harvests, they used for their family consumption. It has also strong reflections on dietary diversity of reproductive age women. More than half (57.8%) of the reproductive age women (including the mothers of the children less than 2 years of age) at the beneficiary households of subsistence fishing had diversified diets within one year of Suchana interventions. On an average 269 Kg of fish was harvested per beneficiary household in last 1 year. Out of those, 42% (114 Kg) was used for family consumption, 48% (129 Kg) was sold at the markets, 6% (16 Kg) used for producing dry fish and only 4% (10 Kg) was gifted to the relatives and neighbors. Within last 1 year, they reared 21 birds per households. It was included both chicken and ducks. Out of 21 birds, 7 (33%) was continued under the rearing process at the point of visit, 6 (27%) were used for table purposes of the family members, 4 (19%) were sold, 0.2 (1%) were gifted to relatives and neighbors, and 4 (19%) were died. Similarly on an average 101 eggs were collected per households from the homestead poultry from their chickens and ducks. Out of 101 eggs, 59% (59 pieces) was consumed by the family members, 20% (20 pieces) was sold, 19% (19 pieces) was used for producing poultry birds through household level hatching practices using local hens, and only 1% (1 piece) was damaged. Average vegetable harvest was 144 kg per BHH. Almost three-quarter (74%) of harvested vegetables was used for family consumption averaging 106 kg. A small portion e.g. 10 kg (7% of total harvest) were gifted to their relatives and neighbors, and 19% of the harvest (50 kg) was sold to the neighbors and local markets. The value of total harvest and production of fish, poultry birds and eggs was 60,927 BDT per BHH. Out of 60,927 BDT, the major contribution 56,261 BDT was from fish; and remaining 3,692 BDT and 974 BDT from poultry birds and eggs respectively. Out of those, 28,453 BDT was from direct income by selling the produces. Most of the households used the income by selling their fish and poultry for purchasing other food items (96% of BHHs), clothes (87%) and medicines (82%) and for children’s education (76%). Overall 91% respondent households expressed either satisfied (66%) or very satisfied (25%) after receiving the supports on either only subsistence fishing or subsistence fishing or small-scale poultry rearing in addition to the vegetable production system. Despite high level of satisfaction in receiving supports of subsistence fishing, small-scale poultry rearing and vegetable gardening; the BHHs also faced some challenges regarding their fishing and production practices. The key challenges were restriction from the representatives of lease holders or land owners, less fish available compare to earlier, theft of gears, natural hazard like storm, heavy raining, and excessive cold for the fishing. The highest proportion (71%) of the respondents mentioned ‘attacking of poultry diseases’ as one of the major problems for their poultry birds. Other challenges were attacking of wild animals, excessive cold in winter, shortage of quality vaccination and medicine, shortage of poultry feed and some natural calamities. Therefore, further attention should be required to improve their fishing and production practices of poultry. Some co-management oriented initiatives for introducing a short ban period of fishing especially protection of naturally grown fish fry and strengthening of linkages between lease holders and fishers can be effective to enhance the sustainable growth of inland fisheries and fishing. Improving the poultry shed and strengthening the coverage of vaccination for the poultry birds following the recommended vaccination schedules, use of supplementary feeding and other improved rearing practices can be more effective.