Rural Consumer Preferences for Inland Fish and Their Substitutes in the Dry-Zone of Sri Lanka and Implications for Aquaculture Development

Francis Joseph Murray, David Colin Little
2022 Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems  
Poor understanding of market demand is a key factor in the recurrent failure of many production-orientated aquaculture interventions. In the Dry-Zone of Sri Lanka stocking-based fisheries enhancements in small-scale reservoirs have been promoted by the State since the 1980's with no evidence of sustainable adoption. Through an evaluation of positive (actual) and normative (aspirational) consumer preferences for inland fish and its substitutes, we aimed to assess underlying reasons for this
more » ... rent failure and future prospects for the policy and rural food-security. Work commenced with a detailed scoping-analysis to establish socio-economic context and a sample frame for systematic surveys. Consumption recall and preference ranking/scoring techniques were applied in two iterative survey phases across 6 villages of Northwest Province. Totals of 39 and 165 respondents were surveyed across the two phases with selection stratified on age, gender, caste and wealth criteria. Results underscored the importance of inland fish to rural food security. Fresh inland fish was consumed by 60% of all respondents at least once per fortnight and by 82% at least once per month with tilapias accounting for 75–85% of meals. Preference for inland fish compared over similarly priced substitutes is attributable to their freshness at point of sale above any other intrinsic product quality. Larger inland and marine fish were more popular than smaller sizes of the same varieties though poorer households consumed lower cost small fresh tilapia (<180 g) and dried marine fish at higher frequency. Common carp an exotic candidate for culture-based reservoir stocking enhancements, held an intermediate position. National policies on inland aquaculture development and rural food security are discussed and recommendations made in the light of these findings.
doi:10.3389/fsufs.2022.867701 fatcat:xjm54lfpnrbdndzoikoguatjk4