Credit and microfinance needs in inland capture fisheries development and conservation in Asia

Recognition of the importance of microfinance as a crucial development tool for poverty reduction has increased during the last two decades. The United Nations, in its General Assembly Resolution 52/194, passed on 18 December 1997, noted that in many countries, microcredit programmes have succeeded in generating productive selfemployment by providing access to small capital for people living in poverty as well as increased participation in the mainstream economic and political process of society. This publication provides orientation, basic considerations and general principles for those institutions and organizations that provide credit and microfinance services to the fisheries sector, particularly the small-scale fisheries sector, and for those who want to include inland fishers and inland capture fisheries as part of their client base and lending operations. The publication also reaches out to the users of credit and microfinance services and to important stakeholders, including inland fisher associations and cooperatives; fisheries and other government departments and institutions concerned with the management, conservation and use of water bodies; local government authorities; and finally, individuals and groups of inland fishers and women in inland fishing communities.

The document has three parts. Part 1 contains guidelines for meeting the credit and microfinance needs in inland capture fisheries development and conservation in Asia. The guidelines highlight the need to conserve and manage inland fisheries and identify opportunities for inland fisheries development, conservation and financing. With special reference to the socio-economic characteristics of inland fisheries and inland fishers, lending policies and procedures suitable for financing inland fisheries are elaborated on. These include the identification of target groups and their credit and microfinance needs, loan sizes and loan purposes, interest rates and repayment periods, documentation and collateral requirements as well as savings and insurance services. Also discussed is the role of various stakeholders in providing financial services and in managing and conserving inland fishery resources, i.e. governments, NGOs, self-help groups (SHGs), fisher associations, financial institutions and donors.

Part 2 contains reports of the proceedings and recommendations of two regional workshops, from which the guidelines evolved. The first was the Regional Workshop on Microfinance and Credit Programmes in Support of Responsible Inland Capture Fisheries Practices for Sustainable Use of Inland Fishery Resources, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 26-30 April 2004 and organized by the Intergovernmental Organization for Marketing Information and Technical Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Asia Pacific Region (INFOFISH) in cooperation with the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM), the Department of Fisheries of Malaysia, the Agricultural Development Bank of Malaysia and FAO. The second was the Regional Workshop on Guidance for Credit and Microfinance Programmes in Support of Sustainable Use of Inland Fishery Resources and Poverty Alleviation, held in Beijing, China, 14-17 February 2006 and jointly organized by the China Society of Fisheries, the East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences and FAO. Both workshops were supported by the Asia Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA).

Part 3 of the document consists of case studies and success stories on: the rehabilitation of inland fisheries and on the access to and utilization of credit and microfinance services with reference to the rehabilitation and development of inland fisheries at Lake Taihu and Lake Luoma in China; management challenges of riverine fisheries along River Ganga and prospects of inland fisheries development in West Bengal and Assam in India; livelihoods at Lake Inlay in Southern Shan State in Myanmar; fishery policy reform and aquaculture development in Cambodia; and community based rehabilitation and management of fishery resources at River Kinabatangan in Sabah, Malaysia.

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