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Aquaculture Outreach at the Asian Institute of Technology—
A Decade of Experience
by C. Kwei Lin, Aquaculture and Aquatic Resources Management Program, AIT
As an international institute for post-graduate degree education and research, most of the teaching and learning at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) is formal and campus-based. This "ivory tower" style of education is often detached from the practical knowledge relevant to problem solving and the skills needed for developing countries in Asia. To address the issues facing developing countries, AIT has gradually pursued outreach activities through off-campus research and extension in collaboration with governmental, nongovernmental, and private organizations.

The Aqua Outreach Program (AOP) of the Aquaculture and Aquatic Resources Management Program (AARM) has been a successful model at AIT andbeyond. AOP was launched
in 1988 in collaboration with the Royal Thai Department of Fisheries at its Udorn Thani Freshwater Fisheries Development Center in Northeast Thailand. The outreach effort was initially sponsored by the Department of International Development of the British Govern-ment, which had previously supported AITs on-campus academic teaching and research in aquaculture. Outreach was thought to be the best method for the dissemination of results of on-station strategic research to users in the region. Throughout the last decade, outreach activities have been further strengthened and expanded in scope and geography as a result of wider collaboration with other international partnerships, notably the PD/A CRSP, the Danish International Developmental Agency, the Swedish International Development Agency, and the International Development and Research Center of Canada. Each funding agency has focused on a specific research and/or outreach effort, such as seed production, nutrition, pond dynamics, wild fish, and curriculum development.

Over the years, AOP has tried to expand recognition of the development process following a systematic framework and participatory organization (see diagrams). Currently, the outreach work involves at least 12 network institutions in Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The institutions are mainly provincial departments, national research institutes, universities and agricultural colleges, and NGOs.

To maximize the effectiveness of aquaculture extension, most of AITs activities are coordinated with already established extension networks of national and provincial institutions or NGOs. For instance, to promote PD/A CRSP pond fertilization technologies in Thailand, AIT offered seminars to approximately 100 research biologists and extension officers at the Royal Thai Department of Fisheries (DOF). The recommended fertilization scheme was then field tested at six of the DOFs provincial stations. After testing, adjustments were made to the fertilization scheme and the fertilization methods were adopted by farmers. Most farmers who followed the recommendations doubled or tripled their fish production.

Water quality analysis in reservoir for cage culture of gras carp in northern Vietnam
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