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'Arid aquaculture' among livelihoods promoted to relieve worsening pressure on world's drylands
Date:11/11/2008

"Arid aquaculture" using ponds filled with salty, undrinkable water for fish production is one of several options experts have proven to be an effective potential alternative livelihood for people living in desertified parts of the world's expanding drylands.

In a report released today, researchers with the United Nations University, the International Centre on Agricultural Research in Dryland Areas (ICARDA), and UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program say alternatives to traditional crop farming and livestock rearing will need to be put in place in drylands in order to mitigate human causes of desertification.

While it may sound far-fetched, researchers say using briny water to establish aquaculture in a dry, degraded part of Pakistan not only introduced a new source of income, it helped improve nutrition through diet diversification. The researchers also showed it possible to cultivate some varieties of vegetables with the same type of brackish water.

Drylands residents, many of whom are the world's "poorest of the poor," employ "highly vulnerable livelihood strategies that depend on land productivity" warns the report, which describes the success of several occupational options explored in a four-year, multi-country study.

Other promising alternative livelihoods, successfully tested in eight countries, include:

  • The manufacture and marketing of "dryland soaps" derived from locally-produced olive oil and fragrances from sustainably cultivated aromatic dryland plants, including geranium, lavender, pomegranate and mint;
  • Developing sustainable drylands ecotourism, which brings income while encouraging villagers to conserve natural ecosystems;
  • Harnessing the abundant solar power capacity in sunny drylands to create sustainable livelihoods and new economic opportunities;
  • Producing wool and sand-based handicrafts for sale at visitor destinations.

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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
United Nations University
Source:Eurekalert

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