It’s worth remembering that farming of anything is not exactly natural. It’s how we’ve managed to organise our food production and produce it in volumes and formats that work with the way we purchase and consume food. However, there are new approaches being developed across the world that focus on farming in such a way that impacts positively on the environment. The growing trend of farming sea cucumbers is one such approach that is boosting the bioeconomy of Zanzibar.
Across the world, a huge amount of the animal and seafood products we eat are farmed. On land, very few societies remain that rely on harvesting wild produce and the few that do like the Hadza of Tanzania are so rare that their way of life is a key part of any tourist itinerary. As the world population has increased so farming has increasingly adopted the industrialised approach driven by efficiency, yield and mechanisation.
When it comes to harvesting the bounty of the seas, those principles have lead to the disastrous overexploitation of fish stocks which, in turn, has driven the development of aquaculture or fish farming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s latest report on the state of the world’s fisheries, aquaculture production increased by 527% between 1990 and 2018. According to the latest figures aquaculture supplied 82 million tonnes of seafood in 2018, compared to 96 million tonnes from commercial fishing
However, in recent times the debate about how to produce the food we consume has focused on how it’s produced and the impact that those methods of production have on the environment and its socio-economic impact. For most people in the west their experience of food is as a consumer and it seems that when given an informed choice, the sustainability of the farming system is a key factor for the majority of consumers.
However, for the majority of the world’s population, their experience of food straddles the boundary between consumer and producer. On land many grow a proportion of their food on small plots often supplemented by hunting or gathering of wild protein and plants. When it comes to seafood the picture is similar, for instance supplementing rice production with small scale fish farming in the paddy fields.
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