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Aquaculture, Fish and Fisheries ; 2(6):507-21, 2022.
Article in English | PubMed Central | ID: covidwho-2208862


Aquaculture development in Benin depends heavily on small‐scale and subsistence aquaculture producers (SSAPs), who are sustaining production activities. The aquaculture sector is vulnerable to market shocks because of its dependence on inputs and equipment, which are mainly imported from overseas. The recent outbreaks of global aquaculture diseases have also proven the sensitivity of the sector. The vulnerability of SSAPs is expected to increase as a subsequent result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic. This is the reason why COVID‐19‐related difficulties affecting aquaculture production deserve to be evaluated in the country's aquaculture sector. We conducted an online survey to assess the impact of COVID‐19 and the resulting restrictive measures on the functioning of SSAPs farms. Data were collected from 98 SSAPs informants spread over the geographic area with high aquaculture production potential in the country. The rate of increase in input prices, linear discriminant and factorial correspondence analyses projected severe constraints in almost all the value chain. The rates of increase in the unit price of inputs increased from 14% to 188%, thus weakening aqua‐farmers' purchasing capacity. COVID‐19 has led to a drop in the sales turnover of aqua‐farms, resulting in staff reductions and unemployment. Difficulties in accessing quality inputs have led to the disruption of fish growth and thus the production cycle. The sale of aquaculture products saw a 20%–30% drop in turnover in many farms. The critical challenges mentioned by both men and women SSAPs are mainly the high cost of fish feed, the rising input and transport costs, and the lack of financial resources. Therefore, short‐, medium‐, and long‐term mitigation measures are suggested and could help to alleviate these difficulties while sustaining the blue revolution already under way. This community of men and women SSAPs should adopt and strengthen their use of existing endogenous technologies as well as digital modern options for remote aquaculture sales, in order to cope with future disruptions. The scientific community should help to propose incentive‐based alternative options (e.g., affordable production systems, and efficient micro‐credit model) that can motivate SSAPs to continue with aquaculture, as a guarantee of the sustainability of their livelihoods.