“Strengthening the contribution of aquaculture to food and nutrition security: The potential of a vitamin A-rich, small fish in Bangladesh” (Fiedler et al 2016)

Citation: Fiedler, J., Lividini, K., Drummond, E., and Thilsted, S. (2016). “Strengthening the contribution of aquaculture to food and nutrition security: The potential of a vitamin A-rich, small fish in Bangladesh” Aquaculture, 452, pp. 291-303. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2015.11.004

Summary By: Alexandra Pounds

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • Big Picture: The Mola Production Programme is the most cost-efficient way to address vitamin A deficiencies in Bangladesh.
  • Many small-scale farmers in Bangladesh culture fish, for both commercial and sustenance. Polyculture of rice and fish is an important part of food security in Bangladesh. Many Bangladeshis have small ponds available for aquaculture.
  • It is estimated that 60% of Bangladeshis are vit A deficient, despite the oil and wheat flour fortification programmes.
  • Mola carplet contains more vit A than other commonly eaten fish species in Bangladesh. Producing more mola carplet could help solve the vit a deficiency. The Mola Production Programme is currently behind these efforts. The aim of this paper was to do a cost-benefit analysis of increasing mola carplet production in Bangladesh to help solve the chronic vit A deficiency.
  • Methods:
    • Used national health statistics to establish the usual vit A intake, prevalence of deficiency, and years lost to deficiency-caused disability.
    • They then added how much vit A the Mola Production Programme would provide over the next 11 years to estimate future levels of vit A intake, prevelance of deficiency, and years lost to deficiency-caused disability. They assumed that the Mola Production Programme would have a 30% adoption rate
    • The change in these numbers was compared to the total cost of the Mola Production Programme.
    • They used two different scenarios for comparison.
  • Results:
    • Over 11 years the program would cost $23 million and
      • raise vit A levels by 7 micrograms
      • lower prevelance of deficiency by 1.1%
      • This equates to 3000 lives saved, and prevent 100,000 years lost to deficiency-caused disability.
  • Implications:
    • If continued for 20 years, the Mola Production Programme would have lower costs and greater health benefits than the Vitamin A wheat flour fortification programme.
    • Other nutritional components can be improved through the programme indirectly, via increased income with mola production.
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