Aquaculture can become a sustainable source of income; with it, villagers will be able to control and protect the natural supplies they rely on, while enhancing their livelihood. The main issue is to change villagers thinking and disrupt their traditional way of doing things. They ought to understand the concept of value and how they can become value creators if they change their perceptions and learn new skills.
Villagers capture the lobster larvae during their migration to new settlements. There is an abundant amount of supply which is perceived as a blessing by the entire village. I spoke with many fishermen and they are happy to go fishing because they know they will get paid every morning. The value obtained from the exchange with middlemen is very low and there is an economy of scale that takes place to sustain this activity: in order to make a profit, the fisherman knows spiny lobster larvae have to be fished in large quantity. However, this supply may deplete one day soon and fishermen may loose the only source of income they have.
What if they learn something different to create new value?
The spiny lobster is a crustacean that is very appreciated by Asians for celebrations and gourmet dining. The cost of a full grown lobster can be exchanged at $40/65 per kg. Moreover, building and growing lobsters in aqua-farms requires little capital investment: all the raw materials can be found locally and labor cost is low; on the other hand, profit can be high after up to 18 months.
The most difficult part in this project is to entice villagers to switch their activity from over fishing to aqua farming. They first need to understand the concept of value creation. At the moment, value is extracted from the sea (spiny lobster larvae) and there is no visibility and control on its durability. This is a raw, uncertain and low-cost value, which can be grown by villagers into a more profitable one.
It is a matter of educating villagers, not just about aquaculture techniques, but rather about learning to cultivate their resources and create new value from raw supplies they catch from the sea.
This is not a lobster. I believe that once villagers can see beyond the physical form of any supply and the raw value attached to it, they will understand the many possibilities they have at hand to augment and diversify their source of income while becoming self-reliant.
What if fishermen learn to diversify their source of income and use the digital technology to promote and sell their products?
Young people in the village are more inclined to understand the concept of value creation and the one I spoke with got excited about it. They are digital-savvy and even from their remote villages they are connected to the world via social media platforms on their mobile.
What if they digitize the aquaculture value chain and create new value that both the customer and the villagers will benefit from? I think these people need just to be told the story of value creation so they can start envisioning the many benefits they will get. What a bright future awaits them...
Ceci n’est pas une langouste…