Integrated rice-fish culture: Coupled production saves resources



Rice is a key component in global food security, as it is the main ingredient in the daily diets of around 3 billion people, especially in Asia. Like all agricultural production, rice cultivation depends on scarce natural resources. This article briefly outlines the utilization of land and water in rice production, and suggests an approach for optimizing use efficiency, namely through the combination of rice and fish culture. The authors argue that the utilization of land and fresh water is optimized through integrated and complementary production of rice and fish — two basic foods items in daily local diets. The article reviews currently available scientific literature on integrated rice-fish systems. Rice-fish culture systems are briefly characterized, and respective yield potential and interactions between rice and fish are discussed. Results of socio-economic surveys regarding the adoption of integrated rice-fish culture are summarized. The article also reviews literature on the impact of fish culture on rice field ecology as outlined in studies on weed infestation, insect populations, and greenhouse gas emissions. The article concludes that rice-fish culture can be an option to help rice producing countries keep pace with soaring domestic demand for food, especially fish. Integrated rice and fish culture optimizes the benefits of scarce land and water resources through complementary use, and exploits the synergies between fish and plant.