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|Sustaining export-oriented value chains of farmed seafood in China
|Little, David Colin
|University of Stirling
|This thesis is intended to improve the understanding of China’s evolving export-oriented farmed seafood systems, and in particularly, shrimp and tilapia farming value chains in Southern China. An integrated, systems thinking and interdisciplinary approach in which both top–down and bottom–up approaches were combined. The research moved from system reviews, to field surveys and workshops, and then to improving sustainability by Action Research (AR), in order to form a holistic understanding of sustainability at both national and local scales. In the new millennium, the aquaculture sector has matured, and many factors now slow the growth rate of Chinese aquaculture production, such as increasing culture of high-value species and an emerging trend of extensification. There are been some strategy shifts in the aquaculture industry such as changing from a high production to high profit orientation and from causing environmental damage to ecological remediation. A key conclusion is that high growth rates, regularly used in policy dialogues, are misleading indicators and do not reflect, realistic or sustainable, growth profiles. Although overall Chinese aquaculture production is likely to further increase to meet an increasing and changing market demand, growth rates will decrease further. China already is and will continue to be a fisheries products net importer, however, if fishmeal excluded China will remain as a seafood net exporter. The status and development of four internationally-traded farmed seafood, tilapia, penaeid shrimp, macrobrachium prawns and striped catfish in China were reviewed. China is the largest producer of tilapia, penaeid shrimp and macrobrachium prawns, and striped catfish is not produced in significant quantities due to climate limitations. Meanwhile, China is the largest exporter of tilapia, the second largest exporter in the volume and third in value of shrimp in the world, while macrobrachium prawns mainly support domestic markets. Tilapia and penaeid shrimp were selected for further research. An analysis of tilapia and shrimp farm scale indicators and their relationship to farming system and market orientation, farm intensification and performance was made. Farm area, both land and water area, labour, including paid and unpaid were effective indicators to distinguish farm scale. Small-scale farms had higher land productivity in production terms but no difference in value output term, and they had much lower labour productivity than medium and large-scale farms. Farming systems were also correlated with land and labour productivities. Market orientation was closely linked to farm scale as most farms with an export orientation required registration with CIQ (China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine) and were mainly large-scale. An assessment of local stakeholder sustainability perspectives along value chains revealed that more than 80% shrimp and tilapia farmers didn’t want their children to continue basing their living on aquaculture; because they considered it hard work, high risk and poorly remunerated. Farming was comparative stable with few changes in the five years prior to the survey. Major sustainability factors identified by stakeholders included input costs, profit, water availability & quality and the weather, most of which were outside their control. The measurement of these sustainability factors was firstly proposed by stakeholders and then developed to a set of sustainability indicators (SIs). Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used as evaluate the environmental performance of tilapia, pig and integrated tilapia-pig farming systems in China. Pig farming had higher environment impacts based on most impact categories than tilapia, and integrated farming systems. Sensitivity analysis showed that improvements of 5% and 10% higher feed efficiency, reduction of fishmeal in feed to 1% level and use of EU electricity could significant reduce overall environmental impacts. An action research (AR) approach was used to assess the practice of farm record keeping with farmers which were found to be generally low and a major constraint to improving product traceability increasingly demanded by consumers. Large scale and CIQ farms were more likely to keep records and for them to be detailed and analysed to inform improved management. Farmers’ motivation, ability and capability and background had significant correlation with record keeping practice. Two major dilemmas were identified by the analysis. Easy-to-use farm record-keeping system more suitable for less formally educated farmers was a clear requirement but useful storage and analysis of farm data capacity requires sophisticated management tools such as a computer system. Another dilemma is the need for coercion by regulatory authorities or encouragement through provision of education and training in increasing on-farm record-keeping to a level required for international trade and, increasingly, domestic markets. “Precision aquaculture”, value chain integrated solution, and further social-economic reforms were discussed. Finally, sustainable intensification, diversification, and extensification were proposed as strategies for China to meet the challenges of globalization and the growing demands of export and domestic value chains. In order to enhance sustainability of the sector and provide opportunities for small-scale farmers, the current status and changes of the Chinese social, economic context, food safety and environments issues were discussed. Farmers’ organizations, future consolidation, and land reforms were identified as key to the required changes of farmed seafood value chains.
|Thesis or Dissertation
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