Fish production in Bangladesh has transformed over the past two decades. Per capita fish consumption has increased from 7.7 kilograms in 1980 to 23 kilograms in 2017.
Despite this progress, Bangladesh has yet to realise the full potential for growth in aquaculture productivity, according to a newly published book of the International Food Policy Research Institute and their collaborators.
The book titled "The Making of a Blue Revolution in Bangladesh: Enablers, Impacts and the Path Ahead of Aquaculture" and co-edited by the institute's Shahidur Rashid and Xiaobo Zhang was unveiled at a city hotel on Sunday.
The book examines the three broad aspects of transformation of Bangladeshi fish (non-shrimp) aquaculture, the determinants of value-chain transformation, impact of the transformation on poverty and food security, and the medium-term prospects for aquaculture in Bangladesh.
The aquaculture productivity was only 4.26 tonnes per hectare in 2014, with a total production of 1.61 million tonnes on 377,968 hectares of pond area.
If intensive fish farming with the productivity of 100 tonnes per hectare were expanded from its current limited scope to even half of Bangladesh's pond areaa, there would be more than a 12-fold increase in aquaculture production, the book mentioned.
The book suggests having policy and research support for enhancing productivity, developing markets and building institutional capacity.
Planning Minister Abdul Mannan attended the function as the chief guest, while Power and Energy Advisor to the prime minister Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury spoke as the guest of honor.
In his speech, Abdul Mannan said, "We need to do more research on sea fish and how it could contribute more to our economy. I see an increasing number of people across the globe including sea fish in their diets.
"Our researchers should focus on how this phenomenon will influence us in the future."
Calling for a united effort, the planning minister added, "I felt a sense of wonder when I learned that Vietnam produces the largest amount of pond fish in the region. This feat was possible due to a combined effort."
Describing the hidden potential of the country's aquaculture sector, Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said, "This level of development was possible due to our population, because, if a new invention comes up in a densely populated area, it can easily be adopted by the people.
"People used to catch fish in canals and rivers, but now the method has changed. Thousands of people now earn their living from fish cultivation."
Senior Secretary of Power Division Dr Kaikaus Ahmad and Director General of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Dr KAS Murshid were special guests at the programme.
Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Md Raisul Alam Mondhal presided over the event.