The Pond Dynamics/Aquaculture Collaborative Research Support Program (PD/A CRSP) focuses on improving the efficiency of aquaculture systems. Aquaculture, the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals, is an ancient art and an emerging science. Global demand for fish has soared in the past decade, while stocks of wild fish have dwindled. In many developing countries, fish is the single most important source of animal protein. In the 21st century, aquaculture promises to be the primary means of increasing fish production. The PD/A CRSP has brought together the resources of developing countries and US institutions to increase the efficiency of pond culture systems and to disseminate successful aquaculture strategies.
The PD/A CRSP is one of a family of agricultural research programs partially funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Research conducted by these programs helps farmers improve their incomes and alleviate hunger without depleting the natural resource base on which they depend for food, fuel, fiber, and shelter. Collaborative Research Support Programs work with international agricultural research centers, private industry, and non-governmental organizations in the US and abroad. Collaborative Research Support Program research strengthens host country institutions and provides training opportunities for host country scientists.
The PD/A CRSP began work in 1982 in Honduras, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines and, until war broke out in 1994, in Rwanda. Research has also been done in Egypt, and continues today in Honduras, Thailand, and the Philippines. New sites were established in Kenya and Peru in 1996 and in Mexico in 1998. At all sites, the goal is the same: to identify constraints to aquaculture production, and to design responses that are environmentally and culturally appropriate. Researchers from host countries and the US design and implement the research agenda.
The PD/A CRSP conducted a Global Experiment for over ten years. Researchers studied pond ecosystems including physical, chemical, and biological processes. By conducting a series of standardized experiments at each site, the PD/A CRSP has created the kind of baseline data commonly found in other agricultural disciplines, but which has been lacking for so long in aquaculture. The data from the Global Experiment have been compiled into the world's largest database on tropical aquaculture. PD/A CRSP researchers harness the statistical power of this database to develop simulation models and guidelines for more efficient aquaculture production. One such software product to come out of this research is the POND Decision Support System.
Local needs also help drive the research agenda
In Rwanda, inorganic fertilizers are too expensive for most farmers to use in their ponds and organic fertilizers are often in short supply. PD/A CRSP researchers developed a system to compost indigenous green grass right in the pond. The result? Greater pond productivity and fish growth than with more expensive fertilizer treatments.
In Honduras, the demand for tilapia fingerlings far exceeded the supply. When the PD/A CRSP fertilization and breeding protocols were adopted, fingerling production tripled without the expensive supplements previously needed.
In Thailand, acidic soils can make fish ponds difficult to manage. The CRSPs interdisciplinary research team determined that different pond construction techniques would make a difference. Diking instead of digging ponds will make 13 million hectares of acid-sulfate soils more useful for aquaculture. US institutions investigate topics of general utility to PD/A CRSP researchers and the international aquaculture community. Studies of pond soil and water interactions are one example of applied research that can be used by researchers and pond managers worldwide.
Organizing for Collaboration
The PD/A CRSP recognizes that mutually beneficial development strategies have the best chance of being sustainable over time. The organizational structure of the PD/A CRSP encourages collaboration among researchers, institutions, and countries. The Management Entity, located at Oregon State University, administers the program. A Board of Directors and a Technical Committee assist the Management Entity in guiding the research program.
The Board of Directors is the primary policy-making body for the PD/A CRSP. Researchers from US universities and host country institutions comprise the Technical Committee, which advises the Management Entity on technical matters. An External Evaluation Panel of eminent aquaculture specialists periodically evaluates the accomplishments of the individual research projects and the overall program to ensure that research remains focused, relevant, and cost-effective.
Institutions collaborating in PD/A CRSP research include:
Hillary S. Egna, Director
Pond Dynamics/Aquaculture CRSP
Oregon State University
418 Snell Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331-1643 USA