SFP has just wrapped up a major aquaculture training program in three different countries in Asia and the South Pacific, providing thousands of shrimp and tilapia farmers with modern training designed to improve the industry in these regions.

Organizers initially expected the project, operating in Indonesia, Thailand, and China, to attract 12,500 farmers. By the December 31, 2016 finishing date, more than 15,000 farmers in all three countries had participated in the training.

“This project has exceeded expectations because of the hard work of many committed partners to deliver improvements based on a detailed, local understanding of what farmers want,” said Anton Immink, SFP’s Aquaculture Director. “We recognize there is still a long way to go for many of these farmers, but we encourage others to actively engage in the improvements needed.”

The program, funded with the support of Walmart Foundation and IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative – has led to improvements in environmental and disease management across shrimp and tilapia farms in all three countries.

Ir. Rizal, head of the aquaculture unit of the Provincial Office of Marine and Fishery Affairs in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, said, “This training helped us improve the knowledge of traditional farmers in West Kalimantan to practice better farming. With better farming we hope that farmers can improve their shrimp and fish harvest.”

Training topics included: Better aquaculture practices; better post-harvest practices; better business management; group formation and management; value of zonal management; Code of Good Practice in Aquaculture; ecological farming, health management, and market outlook.

Sally Ananya, Director of The Food School, one of the partners in Thailand, said “The focus on smaller-scale producers and the specific inclusion of women in the training has been particularly valuable, as the contribution of these groups is often overlooked in projects aiming at improvements in shrimp farming.”

For some farmers, including Chareon Yongstar of Thailand, the training served as an eye-opener.

“I have learned so many practical best practices that I can apply at my farms,” he said. “But more importantly, the experience has raised more questions and made me realize how much more I don’t know. I hope there is a continuation of this program.”

SFP will continue to work closely with the international buyers to understand how these producers fit into existing supplies or how some of them can continue the improvements they have started to become part of the international supply chain.