News and updates

Third and Final Consortium Meeting: Machakos, Kenya

The IMAQulate project held its closing annual meeting and an interactive stakeholder policy workshop in Kenya in January.

Dr Francis Murray of the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, and colleagues on the IMAQulate project travelled to Machakos, Kenya, for the project’s final consortium meeting and a stakeholder policy workshop, hosted by Dr Patricia Muendo and her team at Machakos University. Partners attending from India, Bangladesh and the UK travelled to Kenya to share findings and explore opportunities to build on this research. The project has explored the growing use of prophylactic health-management products (PHPs) including prebiotics and probiotics, often used in place of antibiotics, which are becoming increasingly restricted in the aquaculture industry. The market for PHPs is poorly regulated and knowledge of their effectiveness under highly variable production conditions is largely unproven, yet their use is widespread among small-scale farmers in Asia.

The project meeting was followed by an interactive gathering of policy, industry and research professionals from across the Kenyan aquaculture sector. Researchers highlighted quality assurance learning from Asian value-chain studies. Issues included fraudulent active ingredient and functional claims, risk of contamination by antimicrobials, presence of human pathogens in the products and acquired anti-microbial resistance genes (ARG). This results in a risk-based management tool based on product label declarations targeting regulators and producers. These lessons fed into a review of potential to improve regulation of a still-emergent market for PHPs in the Kenyan aquaculture sector.

The IMAQulate project held its closing annual meeting and an interactive stakeholder policy workshop in Kenya in January.

November 2018

Dissemination workshops in India and Bangladesh

IMAQulate featured in Undercurrent News

IMAQulate participation in roundtable discussion 

IMAQulate project at Aqua 2018

IMAQulate PI Dr Francis Murray and Postdoc Dr Mahmoud Eltholth, both of the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, presented early findings from PHP trials and a systematic literature review at the WAS/EAS Aqua 2018 conference in Montpellier from 25-29 August 2018.  Dr Murray also presented to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in a meeting running alongside Aqua 2018 to make early policy recommendations regarding the regulation of PHPs.

August 2018: New IMAQulate publication on aquaculture in Kenya

IMAQulate partners from Machakos University, KMFRI and the University of Stirling have recently published a review of aquaculture production and health management practices in Kenya.

Read: A review of aquaculture production and health management practices of farmed fish in Kenya

July 2018

New team members join WorldFish for the tilapia health management survey

June newsletter published

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June 2018: Khulna nursing phase completion

The extended nursing phase of our Khulna trial is now complete, and the shrimp have been successfully moved to growout ponds to complete their lifecycle.

The shrimp in this trial were treated with PHPs through an extended nursing phase in order to determine the health and survival impacts that these treatments have on the animals. They will be untreated throughout the growout phase to determine whether these effects are also visible in later life stages.

The trial is being conducted in Radiant Hatchery facilities, and we are pleased to be working with this organisation for our research. The trial is being conducted by IMAQulate partners WorldFish.

Researchers in aquaculture facilities

May 2018: IMAQulate project featured in The Fish Farmer magazine

Our work has been featured in May’s edition of The Fish Farmer magazine (p. 74-75). The article, written by the University of Stirling team, discusses the project’s aims, objectives and activities, as well as some early results from our PHP trial in Andhra Pradesh.

April news and updates

Learn more about our news for April 2018.

Research activities

March 2018: Thank you to our collaborating partners

Our research is made possible by the support of our collaborating partners. We would like to thank Bilas Sasmal, senior technician at Ananda Group with 18 years experience, who graduated from Vidyasagar University with a BSc in Industrial Fish and Fisheries. Thank you for your technical help and support of the trials.

March 2018: PHP trials

Trials of PHPs are beginning in India, Bangladesh and Kenya. The trials will test the efficacy of PHPs on shrimp, tilapia and pangasius raised in an extended nursing environment. Combinations of in-feed and water and soil probiotics, prebiotics and biofloc will be applied to the nursing tanks for 30 days, and the effect on fish and shrimp health and survival will be measured. The stock will then be followed through to grow out ponds to assess the lasting effects that treatments applied at the nursing phase have on them throughout their life cycle. 

The project has collaborated with Ananda Group in Andhra Pradesh, Gazi Fish Culture Ltd and NOVA Hatchery in Bangladesh and Victory Farms in Kenya. We are very grateful for the use of their facilities throughout the trials. 

January 2018: Preparations for on-farm trials in Andhra Pradesh

IMAQulate PDRA Mahmoud El Tholth is spending several weeks in Andhra Pradesh January and February working with Ananda Group to implement on-farm trials of Prophylactic Health Products (PHPs). The trials will assess the efficacy of probiotics (beneficial bacteria), prebiotics (food for such bacteria) and synbiotics (a combination of pre- and probiotics) against a biofloc control. We are grateful for the collaboration with Ananda Group in Andhra Pradesh in running these trials. 

Similar trials will take place in Kenya and Bangladesh over the coming weeks, as teams from Machakos University, KMFRI, Bangladesh Agricultural University and WorldFish Bangladesh test PHPs in nurseries, hatcheries and on farms. 

Health practices surveys of shrimp and pangasius farms in Bangladesh

The teams from BAU and WorldFish Bangladesh have been surveying shrimp and tilapia farmers across Bangladesh to understand farm health practices including the use of PHPs. These findings will be added and compared to similar surveys in India and Kenya, helping us to better understand the choices that these farmers make when selecting health management products for their farms. 

Stakeholder visits for RCT planning in Andhra Pradesh

IMAQulate postdoc Mahmoud El Tholth visited a rice fish integrated farm in Andhra Pradesh. Mahmoud met with Mr Raju and Dr Mohan from Ananda group and Mr Udo Censkowsky from bluesensus to visit an integrated fish-paddy research station Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), part of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

Project assistance from Koushik Roy

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Koushik Roy, who has made an invaluable contribution to the IMAQulate project by surveying PHP products on sale in West Bengal. The findings from Koushik's survey will be combined with and compared to findings from Andhra Pradesh and Bangladesh, helping us to understand the markets for these products in the two countries. Thank you, Koushik! 

November 2017 (India)

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the team of enumerators from Pithapur Rajah's College, Kakinada, for their invaluable contribution to our health surveys in Andhra Pradesh. Students and graduates of the Department of Zoology surveyed 240 shrimp farms across four districts. 

The students who partnered with staff from the Institute of Aquaculture, UK, and the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kerala, all showed unwavering commitment to the study. We were delighted to present to them their certificates of participation on 2nd November 2017. 

IMAQulate postdoc Mahmoud El Tholth has completed the Andhra Pradesh health survey of shrimp farmers, assisted by a fantastic team from Pithapur Rajah's College in Kakinada. He is now preparing for the upcoming Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) of PHPs in Andhra Pradesh, and is visiting stakeholders and potential collaborators in the area. 

Mahmoud visited a farm with a recently constructed hatchery near Kakinada to discuss potential collaborations on RCTs. Many thanks for Mr Madhu, the farm consultant (SGC Aqua Solutions), and thanks also to the farm owner.

Mahmoud also visited the Ananda Hatchery Complex for potential collaboration in RCTs. Many thanks to Dr Mohan, Mr Surya Babu, Mr Sathya Prakesh and Mr Harilal for their kindness and hospitality.

October 2017 (Kenya)

The IMAQulate Kenyan partners Machakos University and KMFRI, assisted by a team of enumerators, have been conducting a health survey of fish farmer's health management practices in Busia and Kakamega counties of Western Kenya. Hatchery owners and small holder farmers were interviewed during the survey. 

The results from this survey will be compared to findings of the same surveys in Bangladesh and India (detailed below) to better understand farmer's health management practices and decisions in the three countries. 

October 2017 (Bangladesh)

A three-day long training programme including field testing of the questionnaire has been held by WorldFish Bangladesh for upcoming health surveys of farmer health practices across the country. The training programme was attended by the two IMAQulate Bangladesh partners, WorldFish Bangladesh and Bangladesh Agricultural University. This survey is based on the health survey just completed in Andhra Pradesh, India, which will allow the findings to be compared between countries. 

October 2017 (India)

Despite the challenges of heavy rain, holidays, and staff busy preparing ponds for October's stocking, Mahmoud and his team are progressing well with the surveys of shrimp farmers in Andhra Pradesh. Farms in East Godavari have been completed and the team will move onto Guntur next. 

In between surveys, Mahmoud has managed to join farm owners and workers celebrating religious festivals, including helping out with cooking! 

August 2017

IMAQulate postdoctoral researcher Mahmoud El Thoth has left for India to conduct health surveys of shrimp farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India. He will spend the next few months surveying farmers on their health practices, including what products they use. This is designed to assess under-lying motives for farmer decision behaviour with respect to application of PHPs and associated trends e.g. opinion of product efficacy, use history, cost-benefit perceptions compared to alternatives etc.

The team have recruited enumerators from Pithapur Rajah's College to assist with these surveys.

July - August 2017

The IMAQulate team visited Andhra Pradesh, India, where they met with stakeholders to discuss the initiation of a probiotics trial. PI Dr Francis Murray, postdoctoral researcher Dr Mahmoud El Thoth, and Co-PIs Dr Toms Joseph and Professor Kenton Morgan visited academic institutions, fish processors, feed producers, farmers and other stakeholders to discuss the IMAQulate project, stakeholder activities and potential collaborations. 

Project meetings

2nd Annual Progress and Planning Meeting: Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India

The 2nd IMAQulate annual progress and planning meeting was held in Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India, from the 9th-15th January 2018. Partners from the UK, India, Bangladesh and Kenya met to discuss the progress made in situation analyses of PHP use on farms, hatcheries and nurseries, as well as microbiological analyses of PHP products and extraction and isolation of saponins from a variety of natural sources to test potential beneficial effects on fish immunity.

Read more about this meeting

Plans were discussed for upcoming trials of PHP products in India, Bangladesh and Kenya. These trials will assess the efficacy of PHP products in hatcheries and nurseries, and the continuing effects that these have as the stock progress to on-farm grow out ponds. Further microbiological analysis of PHP products will be carried out in order to determine the content of such products and whether or not this is consistent with the manufacturer claims. 

The IMAQulate team are grateful for the hospitality and support of Ananda Group throughout the meeting. We are looking forward to collaborating with Ananda during the upcoming PHP trials in Andhra Pradesh. 

The IMAQulate team were given a guided tour of Ananda's shrimp farm, hatchery and laboratory near Bhimavaram. This gave the team a good understanding of the shrimp farming process and the effort that is given to health management throughout the lifecycle of shrimp. 

The team were grateful for the input throughout the meeting of Dr Gopal, whose research is conducted through the Ananda Raju Foundation

Partner and associate presentations: