Innovation at the Margins: The Challenges for Bangladesh’s Aquaculture Hatchery Sector



Published Dec 31, 2021
Andrea Butcher

Muhammad Meezanur Rahman Steve Hinchliffe


Reducing disease and improving quality control for shrimp and prawn production are key policy aims for Bangladesh’s export aquaculture with its hatchery sector, the foundation of aquaculture production, targeted for technical innovation. Hatchery reared postlarvae are carriage for the transferral of pathogens and potentially antibiotic resistant genes onto farms, compelling the Department of Fisheries to introduce the Hatchery Act in 2011, stipulating that all hatchery reared PL should be tested before onward sale. Policy implementation is achieved in collaboration with externally funded, locally managed development programmes for upgrading production management practices, delivering genetically enhanced breeds, and improving business margins by providing opportunities for pathogen-free guarantees and branding. However, uptake of improvements in the hatcheries has been low. Disease remains a key production challenge, and despite a reduction in antibiotic use, antibiotics remain a necessary component of disease control. In this paper, we develop a sociotechnical diagram, inspired by Actor Network Theory, that combines analytical models for innovation and disease outbreaks with a sociology of translation. Our approach highlights how vernacular trading practices, farmer financial and adaptive capacities, poor quality materials, and limited laboratory facilities tighten business margins and increase production risks, leaving hatcheries with little to no extra investment capacity or incentive to implement seed testing and improved management practices. We demonstrate the kinds of alliances to be made, interests to be negotiated, and adjustments to be considered for seed innovations to gain purchase in Bangladesh’s food production ecology.

How to Cite

Butcher, A., Rahman, M. M. and Hinchliffe, S. J. (2021) “Innovation at the Margins: The Challenges for Bangladesh’s Aquaculture Hatchery Sector”, The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. Paris, France, 27(2), pp. 39–54. doi: 10.48416/ijsaf.v27i2.70.
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