The next green revolution, though blue

As agriculture faces growing soil, water and climate-crisis limitations, we will shift paradigms and add extensive sea and inland aquatic areas for managed food production in developing countries, truly forging a second green revolution of vast reach—that is also both mitigation and adaptation strategy against climate change.

While building awareness, capacity and demand for products, we will empower fisher and rural communities to implement proven plant-based aquatic food production technologies, complemented with eco-friendly fish aquaculture and enhanced fisheries, to produce nutritious food consumed by the entire population.

While we focus on food, this solution will help solve multiple other problems affecting billions of people, like:

  • creating jobs and alternative sources of income, particularly for impoverished coastal populations and
  • rural populations recurrently affected by prolonged floods,
  • helping reduce deforestation by decreasing pressure on land,
  • freeing land for reforestation and water for human consumption,
  • cleaning marine and lake waters from excess nutrients via uptake by seaweeds and floating crops, also
  • helping decrease frequency and intensity of algae and aquatic plant blooms
  • valuing the aquatic environments in general

To effectively do this, we have assembled a remarkably capable team of experienced organizations and the support of many in-country collaborators. We all share the vision and know-how to establish the path to a more resilient and well-fed planet, where hunger will become a thing of the past.

The final goal of the project is to guarantee global food security

We will do this by significantly and irreversibly consolidating the path for nutrition-sensitive aquatic food production as an alternative agriculture and exponentially expanding demand for its products while helping improve nutrition and increase food security in participating countries. This method of crop production, to be complemented by low-trophic fish aquaculture and fisheries, does not require additional water and will take advantage of the extensive areas for floating cultivation available in inland lakes/floodplains and coastal sea waters, thus independently yet complementarily bypassing the limitations affecting traditional land-based agriculture.

We will devote our efforts to tropical developing countries in most need of securing their food supplies and that have marine and/or freshwater areas to farm. Spin-offs to larger commercial applications and to other countries in the world though should be expected, broadening project impact.

The three project intermediate outcomes that will allow achieving the final goal are:

  1. making aquatic food production, in both marine and freshwater systems, a ‘commonplace’ and sustainable practice in developing tropical countries, whilst achieving widespread consumption of aquatic-food products (particularly promoting consumption of seaweeds and aquatic plants; there is no or lesser need to promote consumption of products from floating land crops nor from complementary fish aquaculture and fisheries);
  2. generating equitable income for marine and freshwater coastal populations, many of whom disenfranchised fishers, and creating nature-based wealth for developing countries in general; and,
  3. providing positive ecosystem services by implementing eco-friendly aquatic food production practices that will contribute to the recovery and the improvement of the health of aquatic bodies and by delivering mitigation/adaptation/intervention strategies to climate change.

The project will operate via three major lines of activities (listed in preliminary form in Appendix 1 as the 5 project clusters), which will be:

  1. Implementation of aquatic food production practices and product development, marketing and consumption by national/regional project collaborators, within nutrition-sensitive aquaculture and equitable profitability schemes and with environmental safeguards and benefits;
  2. Support to the promotion and facilitation of such practices and product consumption in every country/region by project partners and other associates in charge of facilitating efficient and effective implementation and its sustainability via application of global themes (such as nutrition, marketing, policy); and,
  3. Training/education/public awareness for adoption and scaling up, including demonstration farms, workshops for product use, media relations and the production of training material and multimedia in every major language of countries involved, all based on the two lines of activities above, applying this line of activities from year 1 in stepwise form in all countries to be influenced to different degrees by this project.

Monitoring-evaluation-learning (MEL) will be a major project component to be executed from year 1 for each of the major lines of activity within and between the three outcomes sought and at every necessary level. MEL, including impact assessment, will help keep project on track and will allow to evaluate and re-evaluate different activities/results and to innovate in order to increase project efficiency and efficacy in achieving outcomes and thus reaching its final goal. 

Adoption, scaling up and pertinence of implementation will be facilitated in all project activities by obeying socio-cultural/economic/governance/sustainability elements. Included will be nutrition and food security, policy, gender, an emphasis on profit as defined for small-scale and low-cost production systems, as well as environmental/biodiversity considerations based on impact evaluation/minimization, ecosystem services and relations to/from climate change.

Regions and countries (preliminary approximation)

The project will operate at different intensity (scale) in 5 main tropical regions of the world, potentially reaching 74 tropical developing countries endowed with sea and/or lakes-extensive flood-plains (project capabilities and political and other conditions permitting).

  1. Africa (34 sub-Saharan and tropical countries with sea and/or lakes-extensive floodplains: Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, (Southern Somalia), Uganda, Tanzania, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Madagascar). Work at sea may additionally be conducted in Mauritania and Morocco/Western Sahara.
  2. Asia (13 tropical countries: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Maldives, Timor Leste. Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and India are also considered for freshwater work)
  3. Latin America and the Caribbean (25 tropical countries with sea and/or lakes: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay; Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba. To date only Bolivia/Peru and Nicaragua are considered countries with extensive lakes; Paraguay may be considered in relation to flood plains)
  4. Pacific Islands (13 countries with sea: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Samoa, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu. Priority countries already working with seaweeds: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia and Tonga)
  5. Red Sea countries (6 countries with sea: Southern Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Yemen, Northern coast of Somalia)

Intensive work for Phase 1 will begin year 1 in the primary flagship countries and will be continued throughout project life of 5 years (see chronogram). Phase 2 will entail adding secondary flagship countries, where implementation work of similar breadth and depth will be conducted during years 2 – 5, with the aim of sharing knowledge already learnt and reaching similar scale levels as in the primary flagship countries. Phase 3 will entail adding a third and longer list of countries, where some implementation/support work will be limited to pilot/demonstration sites—save for exceptions, where more intensive work can be conducted. Training/education/public awareness activities will be conducted from year 1 in all countries, with intensity varying according to phases and will be used to enable project action in countries before and during implementation work.

Preliminary list of countries for intensive project implementation:

Primary flagship countries are countries with high needs to increase food production capabilities that are already practicing some key activities and/or are enabled to facilitate project implementation, where maximal scaling-up will be conducted. Training centers and other key project activities will be established in flagship countries. Intensive, full scaled-up work will begin in year 1 and will continue throughout project life

Secondary flagship countries are similar to primary flagship countries, but where key activities are not as advanced or for practical reasons are selected for implementation subsequently to primary flagship countries. Intensive work will begin in year 2 and will continue throughout project life.

Third list of countries will be prioritized according to different criteria built around those used to select flagship countries, beginning with nutrition/food security needs and potential impact of establishing aquatic food production–including perceived ‘readiness’ or potential for success in implementation/dissemination (these countries will be prioritized among SIDS, land-locked African countries with extensive lake surface and recurrent droughts affecting agriculture, countries with abundant sea coast and large fisher population in need of alternative food- and income-generating activities).

General chronogram of activities

Appendix 1

CLUSTERS of activities to sustainably and broadly advance aquatic food production (preliminary, v. 3.0)

  1. Production (guaranteeing supply)
  • Species/cultivars (native/common spp. (definition), characterization criteria/descriptors/easy taxonomy for production, bioprospection), propagation/seed banks, breeding/genetic resources/genetic tools/genomic and genetics, yields total/relative, adaptability of spp. and cultivars.
  • Techniques cultivation/farm management, harvest, post-harvest, storage; polyculture with fish/IMTA; relations with fisheries, folk/traditional knowledge and practices; integration with land aquaculture and with agriculture; use of technology/engineering/structures.
  • Harvest of natural populations (food, other uses)/blooms (rapid and massive storage/use capabilities, compost, fertilizer, bioplastic, food/feed, other uses). Use of water hyacinth and other invasive aquatic plants.
  • Site selection: criteria (depth, water, light, currents), areas in the world (marine, lakes/dams, floodplains), convenience/social aspects, seasonal variations, risk/loss avoidance (connect: management, biosecurity, product safety).
  • Stress: biotic/biosecurity (disease, herbivory, fouling/epiphytes), abiotic (temperature, acidification), nutrients.
  1. Products/Use (creating demand)
  • Food (bulk as regular food, functional/super food/traditional, micronutrients, whole dietary seaweed, protein/lipids other major), feed, natural products, pharmacology (bioactives, antioxidants, biostimulants—fucoidans, phenolic compounds), industrial uses – hydrocolloids, byproducts, bioenergy, endophytic and epiphytic microbiota (gut benefits).
  • Product safety: heavy metals (As Cd Hg Pb), iodine other excess minerals, other toxins (anti-fouling biocides?), microbiological contamination (connect: site selection, monitoring).
  • Direct consumption, product development minimal processing, processing methodologies (extraction…), equipment requirements, processing plants, incorporating marine/freshwater plants into existing products.
  • Creating demand/marketing, market shifts and incentives, organic, product development, Support from/partnership with private sector, chefs, public figures (market leaders, trend setters), local food festivals, other activities.
  • Socio-cultural aspects: consumption, reluctance.
  1. Environment/biodiversity
  • Ecosystem services (bioremediation, biodiversity enrichment/fisheries enhancement).
  • Ecosystem impacts of large scale (including many small scale)—connect: site selection, MEL.
  • Sustainability, biodiversity concerns/enhancement—buffer areas.
  • Climate change (two-way: effects on cultivation, cultivation affecting CC drivers/effects): carbon sinks/N&C mitigation, methane, ocean/lake warming, ocean acidification.
  1. Social/legal-regulations-standards/policy/governance
  • Legislation & standards, concessions/other modalities, certification of farms/good aquaculture practices (governmental, NGO’s, private sector, academia).
  • Profitability in multiple dimensions (what is profitable: for development/food security, as complementary income for fishers, integrated with fish aquaculture, for profit, for ecosystem services).
  • Management, micro-management, relations with markets and industry.
  • Gender, youth, disabilities, financial equity.
  • Economy, circular economy, value chain.
  • Industry and improved governance, institutional dynamics, industry structure and typology.
  • Finance, micro-finance; capital investment, philanthropy.
  • Organizational models/support.
  1. Education/training/networking/dissemination/extension/MEL system
  • In-country and regional implementing collaborators/farmers; project structure/cohesiveness.
  • Modality of networking—project sustainability through time.
  • Education, training of future leaders/trainers/researchers in country/region.
  • Extension modalities.
  • Monitoring-evaluation-learning system.
  • Publication and dissemination structure, website, languages.
  • Dissemination (scaling-up and -out): How far can we go and how? How rapidly? (Indonesia case: demand-driven vs supply-driven).