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Title: The social relations of aquaculture development in South and Southeast Asia
Author: Belton, Benjamin Daniel Nicholas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 8794
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis contains five chapters dealing with different aspects of the social relations of aquaculture development in South and Southeast Asia. This analysis is presented with reference to a series of qualitative empirical studies conducted in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand, and challenges conventional narratives relating to the causes, effects and significance of different forms of aquaculture development. Chapter 1 compares the impacts associated with projects intended to promote pro-poor forms of fish culture with the impacts of commercial forms of aquaculture originating in the private sector, and examines complementarities between the two forms of development. It finds that the latter form of aquaculture development, which it terms ‘immanent’, has generally resulted in far more significant economic impacts that the former, which it terms ‘interventionist’. Impacts occur particularly through the creation of employment in associated value chains, although some caution must be exercised in equating these effects with reductions in poverty. The conditions under which immanent aquaculture development is able to take place are elaborated. Chapter 2 provides a critical evaluation of the private sector development (PSD) discourse adopted under the post-Washington consensus. This is achieved with reference to a detailed comparative study of the establishment of hatcheries for mono-sex tilapia in Thailand and Pangasius catfish in Vietnam. This exercise shows the transfer of technical knowledge from public institutions to actors in the private sector to have been largely informal in both cases. The subsequent establishment of hatchery enterprises has also been shaped by culturally specific patterns of economic behaviour that go unrecognised by champions of PSD. The chapter cautions against taking the existence of causal links between increased economic activity and reductions in poverty for granted. Chapter 3 examines patterns of development associated with the extraordinary expansion of the Pangasius catfish industry in Vietnam. It concludes that the ability of catfish producers to access a range of key production factors including land and credit has been mediated by relationships between individuals and the state and its associated institutions, as has access to some markets and services. As a result, the integration of producers into global markets has tended to reinforce existing class relations rather than radically transforming the rural class structure. Chapter 4 evaluates the likely outcomes of governance by third party certification for Pangasius producers in Vietnam and Bangladesh. Widespread insistence on compliance with emerging standards by Northern retailers will have little impact on Bangladeshi producers at present given their domestic orientation, but will probably involve severe consequences for smaller Vietnamese producers who will struggle to comply due to their unfavourable organisation of production and lack of integration. Although Pangasius production in Bangladesh appears more ecologically sustainable than its Vietnamese counterpart, the manner in which standards are formulated means that these advantages are unlikely to be recognised or rewarded. It is also concluded that standards will have limited impact on the industry’s environmental performance in Vietnam. With reference to the literature on agricultural growth and two case studies of aquaculture in Mymensingh, Bangladesh, Chapter 5 argues that commercially oriented quasi-capitalist forms of aquaculture have far greater capacity to alleviate poverty and enhance food security at the national level than the quasi-peasant forms traditionally promoted by development projects. The majority of poverty impact associated with aquaculture is demonstrated to derive from employment in associated value chains and service provision, with likely horizontal benefits also created in the rural non-farm economy via consumption linkages. By contrast, forms of aquaculture traditionally considered ‘small-scale’ and ‘pro-poor’ are shown to be beyond the reach of the majority of the rural poor, and to yield limited positive social externalities, although their role in countering the seasonal financial pressures associated with irrigated rice cultivation is shown to be significant. The conclusion of the thesis summarises key findings presented in preceding chapters, elaborates appropriate methodologies to guide future research on aquaculture development, and sets out a research and policy agenda which identifies work in a number of key areas as priorities for further attention.
Supervisor: Little, David C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aquaculture ; Development ; Poverty ; Agrarian change ; Discourse ; Certification ; Cities and towns Asia ; Aquaculture industry