Vietnam Sustainable Shrimp Farming
*STUDY ABROAD TRIP IN AUGUST*
Aquaculture is a relatively new industry in Vietnam, but expanding rapidly — with small-scale farmers holding a uniquely large share of the farms in comparison to most countries, which are dominated by large corporations. Land and water resources are frequently mismanaged for agriculture and aquaculture, including shrimp farming, primarily through not filtering and recycling water, but rather by continually pumping groundwater, resulting in contamination to the source and a sinking of the overall Mekong delta. This practice is done because many individuals and families engaged in aquaculture are on the lowest end of the economic spectrum and cannot afford many upfront costs, and take up shrimp farming because it yields a higher profit per unit land and labor than most agriculture. However, poor water quality management results in high risk of shrimp die-offs in small-scale farms, which can bankrupt farmers and their families. The die-offs are caused primarily through disease outbreaks because shrimp only have innate immune systems, not adaptive immune systems — therefore, their infection risk increases greatly when their environment is not ideal, particularly in reponse to the factors of dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity, and concentration of nitrogenous compunds. Small-scale shrimp farmers need a more cost-effective, simple-to-use way to migitate the risk of crop loss due to water quality issues.
Our project aims to bring an Internet of Things (Iot) based solution to pair sensors with an automated monitoring/data collecting system to give shrimp farmers better management tools and insight into how their farm reacts to different changes in the environment. We hope to be able to expand our mobile device based application to pair with other technology that these farmers already use around their ponds to create a centralized control system that can track data and alert users to drastic changes in conditions or changes outside of set parameters. By giving them this tool and access to this information, our goal is help them better understand the best conditions of their farms and thus limit water and land resource misusage and mismanagement. This should in turn reduce other pain points in the industry: curbing the environmental impact, maintaining a decent level of water aeration, and reducing the need to antibiotics and antivirals (which are commonly overused in the industry, resulting in superresistant strains of bacteria and viruses). It is central to our project to ensure we do not encroach upon their livelihoods and their knowledge of the industry; we would like to respect their experience as farmers, which is an experience that almost none of the current team members have. That being said, we would like to see small scale shrimp farmers continue to hold a considerable market share in their industry and be able to do so with a decent profit and a sustainable livelihood.