Aquaculture / William Mellgren

Aquaculture / William Mellgren

When I arrived in Bangladesh in 1984, as member of the World Employment Programme, the ILO Office had unused funds of $ 4,000 that would go back, if not applied. Finding plenty of water in ponds, small lakes and other not exploited areas, I suggested a mini-project could be started with the country´s main exporter of shrimps.

With their marine biologist, we prepared an audiovisual training course and went around the less developed southern parts of the country, arranging meetings and seminars with peasants, croppers and landowners. Most of the participants were keen to start trial operations with the technical assistance of the exporter and the help of our Manpower officers at BMET….

It has been a great satisfaction to read in The Economist of Feb.17th, an article “Into the urban maw”, showing that fish and shrimp culture in Bangladesh had multiplied since 1984 to 2016 by 19 times, to a total of 2,2m tonnes! Not only hundred of thousands of better jobs have been created, but plenty of fish has become available, at lower prices, in all the urban areas, besides the rural ones.

As we can read, the employment duration is at least double that for rice, for the year. Also a plus is the improved diet everywhere, with proteins, vitamins and minerals, making the children grow stronger and more. And finally, the lower price of fish allows the urban workers to send more money to their families in the rural areas.

I believe some of the merit for developing such an agro-industry should go to the ILO and its investment in the right place and time!

William Mellgren

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