Sustainable Aquaculture Development in Myanmar

Project description

Project title: Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Myanmar
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), Department of Fisheries (DoF)
Overall term: 2017 to 2021


With a coastline of nearly 2,000 km, several large estuarine delta systems as well as permanent and seasonal freshwater bodies covering 82,000 km2, Myanmar provides habitats for a wide variety of aquatic species.

Fisheries and aquaculture are the main source of animal protein and micronutrients in domestic diets. The sector directly employs approximately 3 million people, and provides livelihoods for up to 15 million. With its recent return to international markets, the country’s rich aquatic resources offer many opportunities for a thriving economy to create jobs and export earnings. Aquaculture is reported to generate much higher earnings per hectare than crop farming, particularly for women, and creates more on-farm jobs.

Wild stocks have rapidly declined over the past decades, due to unsustainable management of both marine and inland fisheries. Fish abundance in some coastal areas is estimated to have fallen to 10 per cent of the figures for 1979. Wild catch is decreasing in number and size, while mangroves are increasingly deforested, depleting natural habitats. This significantly threatens both nutrition and income, particularly in rural areas, home to 70 per cent of the population.

These rural areas struggle with high rates of malnutrition. Stunted growth in children, and anaemia in both pregnant women and children present serious challenges to the country’s socioeconomic development. Myanmar is among 24 “high-burden” countries, ranked by the largest number of chronically malnourished children under the age of five. Aquaculture development has therefore become a priority area for the Myanmar government, which recently launched a large-scale campaign to tackle malnutrition.


The Myanmar Sustainable Aquaculture Programme (MYSAP) supports the sustainable intensification of the aquaculture sector, helping to realise its potential for food security, nutrition and employment.


The programme takes a comprehensive sector approach, focusing on improving processes and products in freshwater and marine aquaculture. This includes input supply, education and extension services, production, product transformation, trade and consumption. The major beneficiaries are the local population and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the inland fish-deficient states of Sagaing and Shan, as well as the coastal states of Ayeyarwady and Rakhine.

Its first phase seeks to facilitate the formulation of a comprehensive policy framework that is favourable to sustainable aquaculture development in the country. This process is under the direct ownership of the programme’s political partner, the Myanmar Department of Fisheries (DoF), and features close cooperation with private sector associations and local civil society.

MYSAP also works to improve university and vocational education to improve service provision and Myanmar’s inclusion within international knowledge networks in the fields of aquaculture and nutrition. Policy and education provide the foundation to scale up productivity and production of high-quality products for domestic consumption. Increasing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in coastal and inland aquaculture value chains is a central goal of MYSAP. By focusing on SMEs and rural communities, the programme will create decent employment opportunities for vulnerable population groups, including women.

MYSAP is working to increase the affordable supply of aquaculture products, particularly in currently fish-deficient regions, in order to improve food security and nutrition while also raising awareness of their high nutritional value.

The target group includes over 250,000 smallholder farmers and other stakeholders involved in the sectors, e.g. 25,000 smallholder rice farmers, who could raise their income through combined rice-fish culture or shifting fully to aquaculture production, as well as landless workers who can benefit from new employment opportunities.

The programme works with all members of aquaculture value chains. This includes farmers, SMEs, governmental and non-governmental organizations, private sector associations, academia, and other stakeholders.


In aims to establish a conducive institutional and policy context for the inclusive and sustainable development of aquaculture, MYSAP is assisting in drafting the National Aquaculture Development Plan. The programme ensures higher quality service provision in the aquaculture value chain, including fish health and hygiene, curricula development, vocational training and organic certification.

It provides predictable, cost-effective inputs for small-scale aquaculture farmers, including the promotion of natural, integrated farming systems and local hatcheries.

This results in more efficient, resilient and sustainable coastal aquaculture value chains, including the restoration of mangroves and the promotion of smallholder shrimp polyculture systems.

Overall, it leads to enhanced production and nutritional impact in fish deficient areas, while creating decent work opportunities for the most vulnerable, including women.