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shrimp stocks and farmers abandoned their
tambaks, leaving them to lie idle.
ACIAR's initial projects focused on
combating disease outbreaks but researchers
soon turned their attention to investigating
shrimp health, soils and developing mapping
techniques to assess land suitability.
On the ground in Aceh the project led by
UNSW continues to support a broader effort
to revitalise smallholder shrimp farming, with
particular emphasis on building technical
capacity within Aceh's Brackishwater
Aquaculture Development Centre. It works in
partnership with another ACIAR project---the
Aceh Aquaculture Rehabilitation Project---
which is led by James Cook University
and funded by AusAID under the Australia
Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and
Development. Together, the teams are working
to develop technical expertise in Indonesia's
Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and to
implement district-level extension teams to
bring the research to farmers.
1997 to 2008 in Indonesia. It found that without
the capability provided by the ACIAR team
"it is highly probable that the shrimp farm
recovery in Aceh would have been delayed and
may have totally failed since the underlying
problems of shrimp farming in acid sulfate soils
are not well understood outside the ACIAR-
Dr Sammut led the project that proved crucial
to reconstruction efforts. His team conducted
training in soil assessment and remediation for
international agencies including the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
the Asian Development Bank, French Red Cross
and various non-government organisations.
Dr Sammut visited agencies involved
with rebuilding the ponds and found many
engineers were not aware that acid sulfate soils
were an issue.
"Acid sulfate soils are sediments that
commonly occur in coastal lowlands and cause
acidification that can kill shrimp or at least
contribute to poor growth rates, and higher
pond-management costs," he says.
Dr Sammut's team undertook soil mapping
to identify whether problem soils were present
in the areas where rebuilding of tambaks was
"Indonesian researchers trained through the
ACIAR project worked with us to map 470,000
hectares of acid sulfate soils in Aceh, where we
also found about 80% of soil in farming areas
was sandy," he says.
"The donor agencies were facing a double
whammy. Their efforts to rebuild tambaks in
the same areas would have disturbed the acid
sulfate soil and there would be engineering
issues trying to rebuild in sandy soil.
"We were able to advise them of potential
soil problems and how to identify and avoid
them where possible, or to manage them in
existing ponds through more efficient liming
strategies, improved ways of preparing pond
bottoms and dykes, water management
techniques and fertiliser application.
"In some cases where it is just too costly to
remediate we suggested other economically
viable commodities and farming methods as an
alternative to high-risk shrimp monoculture."
The scientists had the capacity to act quickly
because of their experience in ACIAR projects
supporting Indonesian tambak research
Aquaculture had been a beacon of hope for
thousands of Indonesian farmers since the 1980s
when many converted rice paddies into tambaks
to produce higher-returning shrimp. Their hopes
were dashed, however, as disease devastated
The ACIAR fisheries projects in Indonesia: review and impact assessment report is part of a series
of ACIAR impact assessments. These examine and report on economic, environmental and
social impacts of ACIAR's R&D investment. From 1983 to the present ACIAR has invested around
A$20 million on 41 research projects targeting Indonesian fisheries.
The report assessed two project areas in detail: smallholder shrimp farming and tuna fisheries.
Both assessments showed the investment in research is expected to significantly impact on the
livelihoods of Indonesian shrimp farmers and fishers. A further major achievement has been
substantial improvement in research, extension and technical capability within Indonesia to
identify and address production issues.
CSIRO led a research project from 2005 to 2008 focused on improving catch data collection
and analysis, and improved fisheries management capabilities. The project was found to
ACIAR's project teams use demonstration
ponds in coastal communities to share their
expertise in better management practices,
aquatic animal health and seed production.
Across Indonesia, the external assessment of
smallholder shrimp farming projects found the
major achievement has been the development
of technology to locate problem soils---
technology that helps governments avoid
planning mistakes and farmers to systematically
remediate idle tambaks.
The ultimate benefits of the ACIAR R&D
investment in smallholder shrimp farming
will depend on adoption of the remediation
In 2006 the Indonesian Government
launched an aquaculture revitalisation plan.
Given the government's support for tambak
remediation as part of this plan, it is estimated
that benefits over the next 20 years will total
about A$227 million in present-value terms.
That is a return of $52 for every $1 invested by
ACIAR and an internal rate of return of 26%. n
PUBLIC ATION: ACIAR fisheries projects in
Indonesia: review and impact assessment, Impact
Assessment Series 55
WEB ADDRESS: www.aciar.gov.au/publication/IAS55
CONTACT: Dr Debbie Templeton,
contribute significantly to Indonesia's
membership of a regional tuna management
organisation, thus improving export
opportunities and the likelihood of more
The report estimates potential benefits of
$168 million are attributable to ACIAR's R&D
investment in tuna fisheries, which is a return of
$180 for every $1 invested and an internal rate of
return of 210%.
With more reliable modelling of the tuna
fisheries, Indonesian fisheries management and
sustainability is expected to improve. Benefits to
Indonesia over the next 20 years are estimated
to be close to $10 million, while countries such as
Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand
also stand to gain. Fishers and consumers will
benefit from lower costs and more guaranteed
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