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AQUACULTURE ECONOMICS. Review and Analysis Method at Farm Level. Pongpat Boonchuwong. Fisheries Economic Division Department of Fisheries. Contents. Introduction Economics of Aquaculture: Classification and Factors Affecting Tools of Research: Record, analysis, and Survey.

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Aquaculture economics


Review and Analysis Method at Farm Level

Pongpat Boonchuwong

Fisheries Economic Division Department of Fisheries



  • Introduction

  • Economics of Aquaculture: Classification and Factors Affecting

  • Tools of Research: Record, analysis, and Survey



  • Half of the world’s population depends on fish as a principle source of animal protein.

  • In many country, people derive more than 50 percent of their daily animal protein requirements from fish.

Aquaculture economics

  • Fish is also second only to rice in the diets of low-income people of many developing country.

  • Fish is an importance component of total human food consumption and, to a lesser degree, of animal feed.

  • It is nutritionally equivalent to meat in protein, high in essential minerals, and low in saturated fats.

Advantage and importance of aquaculture


  • First :

  • Fish culture is stock raising, as opposed to hunting. Stock raising is more efficient than hunting in harvesting a resource because extensive search efforts are not required; thus, harvest is proportional to effort and be predicted.

  • Second :

    • Environmental conditions can be largely controlled and genetics can be manipulated to improve yield.

Aquaculture economics

World Aquaculture

Aquaculture economics

World Aquaculture

(1,000 Tons)

Economics of aquaculture classification and factors affecting

ECONOMICS OF AQUACULTURE:Classification and Factors Affecting

  • Classification of Aquaculture System

  • Factors Affecting the Economics of Aquaculture


Classification of aquaculture system

Classification of Aquaculture System

Factors affecting the economics of aquaculture

Factors Affecting the Economics of Aquaculture

The producers’ profit or net income per unit (Y) of land or water area is mainly affected by production (Q), the cost of production and marketing (C), and the price received (P), as shown in the basic equation below:

Y = Q.P - C

Aquaculture economics

Y = Q . P - C

(Increase in Production)

(Reduction in Cost)

Stocking Rate

Survival Rate

Growth Rate

(Increase in farm Prices)

  • Quality of fish

  • Seasonality and social customs

  • Cooperative marketing

  • Different markets and products

  • Cost of construction

  • Cost of fertilizer and feed

  • Cost of seed

  • Cost of labor

  • Cost of water

  • Interest

  • Marketing cost

  • Land lease

Fertilization & Feeding



Stock Manipulation

- Multiple size

- Same size in a system

- Double cropping

Good pond Management

Correct stocking rate

Right kind and amount feed/fertilizer

Proper water quality

Prevent diseases & parasites

Elimination of predators

Increase in production


1. Increasing Stocking Rate

  • Fertilization and supplementary feeding

  • Polyculture

  • Stock manipulation

    • Multiple-size stocking

  • Same-size stocking in a system of ponds

  • Double cropping

  • Aeration:

  • Running water and aeration can also increase the dissolved oxygen of the pond water, and hence the stocking rate

2 increasing survival and growth rates

2. Increasing Survival and Growth Rates

  • Correct stocking rate

  • The general formula for determining

  • the appropriate stocking rates and stocking ratios is as follows:

    • S = [A.Q/(W2 –W1)]/H

S = stocking rate (number)

A = size of fish pond (ha)

Q = expected yield per ha based on experiences of previous

years (kg)

W1= average weight of individual fry or fingerling when

stocking ( kg)

W2= expected average weight of individual fish

when harvesting ( kg)

H = harvesting rate (percent)

Proper water quality

Proper water quality

Water temperature and dissolved oxygen are two major factors that affect the water quality, and hence the survival and growth rates of fish.

The amount of dissolved oxygen needed by fish usually varies according to the species. The oxygen content of a pond depends on the quantity of organic matter, the submerged aquatic vegetation, and the water temperature.

Diseases, parasites, predators, and competitors are factors that inhibit successful pond production. Certain diseases cause considerable losses of the crop, especially under intensive farming. High-stocking density, water pollution, and inefficient farming conditions promote fish diseases.

Reduction costs of producing and marketing


1. Cost of Construction

  • The primary considerations in site selection are topography, water supply, and soil quality. The ideal location for a fish pond is on flat land.

  • The size, shape, and depth of the pond and the clearing work required also affect the cost of construction.

  • As costs of construction increase in proportion

  • to depth, excavation should be minimized.

2 cost of feed and or fertilizer

2. Cost of Feed and/or Fertilizer

  • Feed and/or fertilizer are probably the most important cost items for intensive aquaculture. In many cases they compose more than 50 percent of the total cost of production.

  • Cost of feed per unit of fish production (Cf) depends primarily on two elements: the conversion ratio of fish to flesh (R) and the unit price of feed (Pf) as shown in the following simple formula:

  • Cf = RPf

  • The cost of feed can be reduced by an improvement in the conversion ratio or by lowering the unit price of feed, or by a combination of these two factors.

Aquaculture economics

The economic principle of feeding is that the amount of feed should be at a level where the additional cost of feed equals its additional revenue.

  • The relationships between the effectiveness of different kinds of feed or combination of feed and their costs should be studied in order to determine the optimum level of feeding or the least-cost combination of feeds.

  • It would not be economically feasible to produce larger sizes if the increased cost of feed could not be offset by the increased unit price of larger fish.

Cost of feed and fertilizer as percentage of total production cost for selected species

Cost of Feed and Fertilizer as Percentage of Total Production Cost for Selected Species


Sepat SiamThailand11OAE, 1995

RohuThailand28OAE, 1995

Silver BarbThailand35OAE, 1995

Catfish (Pangasius)Thailand38OAE, 2000

Nile TilapiaThailand39 OAE, 2000

Catfish (Clarias)Thailand73OAE, 2000

Striped Snake-headThailand74 OAE, 2000

3 cost of seed

3. Cost of Seed

  • A reliable supply of good quality fish seed (fry, fingerlings, etc.), obtained at a reasonable cost, is one of the most important requirements for aquaculture.

  • The price of fingerlings is higher than that of fry, but the survival rate of fingerlings is also relatively greater. Under certain conditions, the cost of seed per unit of marketable fish would be lower and growth period shortened if one starts with larger fingerlings rather than small fry.

  • Large fish farms may benefit from their own hatcheries and small fish farms would benefit from central hatcheries operated either by government or by cooperatives.

4 cost of labor

4. Cost of Labor

  • Labor cost is one of the major expenses of aquaculture because, in most cases, mechanization has not yet been inefficiently developed to replace the intensive use of labor. Harvesting, feeding, and maintenance are the major time consuming tasks. Therefore, efficient management and use of labor are essential in reducing the cost of production.

  • When capital is limited and family labor is relatively abundant—which is true in many developing countries.

  • Both labor and capital can vary, which is usually true in the long run, substituting one for the other might be desirable. Of course, the rate of substitution is related to their relative productivities and prices.

5 cost of water

5. Cost of Water

  • In many places good quality water, especially freshwater, is one of the major limiting factors for aquaculture because it is in great demand for other uses.

  • In selecting sites for freshwater fish culture, effort should be made to locate the ponds in areas accessible to the water supply, e.g., near streams, rivers, groundwater, etc.

  • In many cases, water recycling or water treatment for reuse is necessary and would increase the quantity of a given water supply many times.

6 interest

6. Interest

  • The rate of interest varies with the supply of and demand for capital and with the risks involved in an operation.

  • The risks involved in aquaculture are relatively high because of several factors: 1) the limited knowledge about controlling diseases and parasites; 2) the difficulty of reproducing species in captivity and controlling predators; 3) the lack of experience in managing dense populations of aquatic animals; 4) water population and storm and flood damage are also risks involved in fish culture.

  • Investors in aquaculture encounter high interest rates because of the shortage of capital and the high risks involved.

7 land lease

7. Land Lease

  • The value or the rental price of land varies mainly with its quality and its alternative uses. In selecting a construction site for a pond, effort should be made to avoid choosing valuable lands that could have competing or conflicting uses.

  • Government intervention either by laws and regulations or by leasing public lands suitable for aquaculture may improve the situation.

8 marketing costs

8. Marketing Costs

  • Marketing costs include preservation, processing, storage, transportation, commission, and waste.

  • Fish is a highly perishable commodity. Poor transportation and marketing facilities also decrease farm price because they result in poor quality and oversupply.

  • Government support for improved transportation, storage, and ice plants, marketing cost can be substantially reduced; consequently, production, either through direct or indirect effect of higher profits for producers, can be increased.

  • The development of cooperatives or associations might increase marketing efficiency and lower marketing costs.

Market structure 3 levels

Market Structure : 3 Levels

  • Primary market

farm gate

assembly market , wholesale market

  • Intermediate market

retail market , export

  • Terminal market

Aquaculture economics


Marketing margin

Marketing Margin

Differences b/t prices paid by consumer (retail P.) and prices received by the producers (farm gate P.)

Increase in farm prices


1. Improvement in the Quality of Fish

  • Most of the production from fish ponds in Asia countries is sold while the fish are still fresh.

  • Low quality, spoilage, and waste reduce the average price that the farmers receive.

  • The quality of fish can be improved through proper preservation during transport and storage. Fish farmers will benefit from preserving their products as long as the cost of preservation is less than the benefit they gain. Well-graded fish usually command a higher price in the market than assorted sizes of fish.

2 s easonality

2. Seasonality

  • The price of fish usually fluctuates seasonally as a result of variations in the supply and demand.

  • Stability—and perhaps even an increase in the average price farmers receive for their stock—are possible with a phased stocking operation, which promotes harvesting at desirable times with respect to the demand for and price of fish.

  • The demand for and price of fish are usually high during the off-fishing season and the holidays associated with the local social customs. This practice is feasible only if the seasonal high can be predicted and the costs associated with a change in production pattern are less than the gains in price received.

3 cooperative marketing and different markets and products

3. Cooperative Marketing and Different Markets and Products

  • The small-scale fish operators are usually in a weak bargaining position and often receive very low prices for their product. The situation may be improved through collective bargaining by fish pond operators’ associations or cooperatives.

  • A regulated and sorted supply of fish means greater stability in price and, on the average, higher prices.

  • Wasted time and unnecessary transportation costs can also be eliminated.

  • Allocating fish to different markets and selling them in different forms (fresh, frozen, salted, smoked, etc.) may also increase the average price and maximize revenue.

Aquaculture economics

TOOLS OF RESEARCH Record, Analysis, and Survey


Record Keeping and Analysis for Fish Farms

  • Input records

  • Output records

  • Annual (or seasonal) records

  • Analysis of the farm operation

The Socioeconomic Survey

  • Determining objectives of the survey

  • Developing sampling methods

  • Analyzing data

Record keeping and analysis for fish farms


  • To determine the relative profitability of various production techniques or systems

  • To compare the productivity of major inputs, such as land, labor, and capital, with that of alternative production activities

  • To improve the efficiency of the farm operation

The collection and analysis of data on costs and earnings based on farm records provide the information necessary

Input records


  • Variable inputs : Variable inputs or variable costs are those varying with the level of production, such as fry, feeds, fertilizers, labor, pesticides, fuel, electricity, and water

  • Fixed inputs : Fixed inputs or fixed costs are those that do not change with the level of farming activity, such as land rent, tax, interests, insurance premiums, depreciation on fixed assets, salaries of manager, and technicians

Aquaculture economics


  • For instance, if polyculture is practiced, then the stocking materials should be classified by stocked species and by size of the stocking materials, such as fry or fingerlings.

  • Feed used should be specified by particular kind, such as pellet, rice cake, soybean cake, and trash fish. When fertilization is involved, the kind of fertilizer used should be specified, such as poultry or pig manure, tobacco waste or inorganic fertilizer. Each item, its amount, its unit cost, and its total cost should be recorded.

  • Fish farming activities require labor, and it is better to keep a separate record for labor. Wage should include both in-cash and in-kind payments. The farmer must also record his family members’ labor as input.

Fixed costs


  • Fixed costs are usually payable on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis and should be record separately

  • A list of fixed assets with their initial or current costs and their estimated years of economic life is required to calculate depreciation.

    Depreciation = (Initial cost – Salvage)/ economic life

  • The current replacement cost, instead of the original cost of fixed assets or items that were constructed or purchased long ago, should be used for computing depreciation.

  • It is important to note that land is not depreciable.

Aquaculture economics

  • If the fixed assets are shared between aquaculture and other farm activities, an appropriate proportion should be determined before computing depreciation.

  • If the farmer takes a loan to build fish ponds and/or buy equipment, it is important to keep a separate record for each loan, i.e., a record stating the purpose of the loan, the outstanding amount, and the interest payment.

  • Cost of permanent personnel should include the salary and cost of fringe benefits, excluding the portion worked at other activities not related to fish farming.

Table 2 1 sample daily records of variable inputs a

Table 2.1 Sample Daily Records of Variable Inputs a

a Each fish pond, or group of ponds in similar condition, should have a record of inputs.

b Item of variable input, such as seed, feed, fertilizer, electricity, water, fuel, and oil, etc.

c Kind of each input item. For instance, kind of send may be tilapia fry, or Chinese carp fingerlings, etc., or a combination of them; kind of feed may be rice cake, or soybean cake, or trash fish, etc., or a combination of them. Each kind of input item should be listed.

d Quantity of each kind of input and its unit used such as kg , ton, etc.

e Such as cost per kg, per ton, per 1000 fry, etc.

f Quantity multiplied by unit cost equals total cost of each input at a time.

Table 2 2 sample daily records of labor inputs a

Table 2.2 Sample Daily Records of Labor Inputs a

a Each fish pond, or group of ponds in a similar condition, should have a record of labor input.

b Economic activities of fish farming can be classified as: pond preparation, fertilization, stocking materials acquistion, stocking, feeding, maintenance, harvesting, and marketing.

c Such as adult, child, male, female, etc.

d Number of man/day or man/hour should be specified.

e Wage rate per man/day or per man/hour. Wages in kind should be imputed into value by using the market price of the product.

Table 2 3 sample records of fixed inputs

Table 2.3 Sample Records of Fixed Inputs

a Item of fixed input such as rent, tax, salaries of manager and technicians, insurance premiums, etc.

b Monthly salaries of the manager and technicians should include the cost of fringe benefits and exclude the portion worked on other activities not related to fish farming.

Table 2 4 sample records of loans a

Table 2.4 Sample Records of Loans a

a It is better to keep a separate record of each loan.

b Such as pond construction, purchase of particular equipment,

operating expenses, etc.

Table 2 5 inventory of assets and calculation of depreciation

Table 2.5 Inventory of Assets and Calculation of Depreciation

Aquaculture economics

a Acquisition cost may be used to calculate depreciation for short-lived assets and for assets constructed or purchased recently.

a Prevailing market value should be used to calculate depreciation for those assets that were constructed or purchased long ago.

c The estimated salvage value of the assets at the end of their economic life.

d The differences between columns (1) and (3) or (2) and (3)

e The number of useful years of the asset.

f The proportion of the asset used for fish farming or for a given pond operation.

g Depreciation is calculated by diving column 4 by column 5 and then multiplying by column 6.

Output records


  • All the details of the following items should be included in the record: date of harvesting, species harvested , and the disposition of the product.

  • Gross revenue of the production should include the cash and credit sales of the products and the imputed values of the quantities consumed on the farm.

Aquaculture economics

  • When continuous stocking and harvesting is practiced, the change (increase or decrease) in the value of inventory should be included in the calculation of the gross revenue.

a Such as fry, fingerlings, growers market size, etc.

b Number or kg of each type stock in the pond.

c Difference between the values of beginning and ending inventories.

Annual seasonal rrcords


  • At the end of the year or each production cycle, the quantity and value of production by species and the operating costs by item of each fish pond or group of ponds in similar conditions should be summarized.

  • All factors should be recorded directly from the daily farm records onto a single-page table so that the performance over the whole period can be seen at a glance and evaluated

Analysis of the farm operation


Based on annual records, several indicators that evaluate the performance of an operation can be calculated.

- Profit

  • - Average rate of return on investment

  • - Average rate of return on operating cost

  • - Yields (or value of output) per unit of major input

  • - Cost of input per unit of output

  • - Amount of major input per unit of land or water surface

  • - Amount of major input unit of protein output



Profit = TR – TC


TR = Gross revenue

TC = Total cost of production

Average rate of return on investment

Average rate of return on investment

Average rate of return = Profit/Initial investment

It represents the average earning power for the investment. This measure is useful for those fish farmers who invest a substantial amount in capital items.

Average rate of return on operating cost

Average rate of return on operating cost

Rate of return on operating cost = Profit/Operating cost

This is a useful measure for those fish farmers who farm on rental basis.

Yields per unit of major input

Yields per unit of major input

  • kg/ha or kg/per unit of water surface,

  • kg/man-hour, kg/unit of feed or fertilizer,

  • kg/unit of capital, etc.

  • These indicators can be used to measure the efficiency of the operation. However, they usually indicate the relationship of one input to one output without considering the quality of the major input or the quantities of the other input.

Amount of input per unit of output or cost of input per unit of output

Amount of input per unit of output (or cost of input per unit of output)

- cost/kg,

  • - man-hour/kg,

  • - unit of feed or fertilizer/kg

  • These measure capital intensity, labor intensity, feed and fish conversion ratio respectively, as well as efficiency. Again, each of these measures ignores the variation in quality and quantity of the other inputs.

Aquaculture economics

Amount of Major Input per Unit of Area

  • - capital/ha,

  • - man-hour/ha,

  • - feed or fertilizer/ha

  • These indicators also measure the intensity of operation and the possible impact on credit, employment, and necessary feed or fertilizer.

Aquaculture economics

Amount of Major Input Unit of Protein Output

  • - cost/unit of protein,

  • - man-hour/unit of protein

  • These indicators measure the efficiency of protein production as compared with alternatives.

Summary of key indicators


  • These key indicators are not only useful for fish farmers but also for and policymakers who make comparisons among different farm groups classified by size of farm, farming techniques or systems, location, pond ownership, and so on.

  • In making comparisons, it is important to group the farms by either one characteristic (size, technology location, ownership, etc.) or a few characteristics (identical location and size, technology and location, or ownership and technology).

  • For instance, to compare the profitability and efficiency of farms whose sizes are different, one can group farms using similar techniques in the same region and having similar kinds of ownership into several size groups for comparison. It is not necessary to compute all of the indicators, only those that relates to the specific objectives of the study.

The socioeconomic survey


• The basic premise of the survey is that the

data furnished by the respondent represents

an honest effort to answer the questions

that are asked in a personal interview or

a mail questionnaire.

• The survey is an extremely important method

of providing basic information about current

status, problems, and constraints on

aquaculture development and on policymaking.

Aquaculture economics

Procedure of Socioeconomic Survey

• Define the problems and objectives

• Determine the sample plan

•Develop a questionnaire

• Gather the data

• Analyze the data

Determining objectives of the survey


- To examine the socioeconomic status and practice of the aquaculture industry (by species) from fry gathering (or production) through pond rearing, harvesting, processing, and marketing;

- To analyze the details of production costs (fixed and operating) and the returns from different culture techniques and systems (intensive versus extensive, monoculture versus polyculture, etc.) used on various farm sizes and in different locations;

- To identify the major factors affecting the productivity and profitability;

- To study the market potential and to examine the market structures and channels; and

- To identify the socioeconomic constraints on development.

Developing samping methods


The method best suited to the survey should be selected.

  • 1. Simple random sampling. In this approach, a sample

  • of size n is drawn from a population of size N in such

  • a way that every possible sample size n has the

  • same chance of being selected.

  • 2. .Stratified random sampling. The population is first

  • subdivided into non-overlapping sub-populations or

  • strata. Then a simple random sample is drawn from

  • each sub-population or stratum.

  • 3. Cluster sampling. This method may be defined as, a

  • simple random sample in which each sample unit is

  • a collection or a cluster of elements.

  • 4. .Systematic sampling. In this method, a sample is

  • obtained by randomly selecting one element from

  • the first K elements in a sampling unit and every K

  • th element thereafter.

Creating a questionnaire


- Simple words and sentences should be used;

Principles in creating a questionnaire

  • - The questionnaire should be as short as possible;

  • - The questions should be easy to answer (a check list is often a useful method of presenting questions); and

  • - The order of the questions should encourage a direct and logical flow of thought.

Pre test


• It is very important that it be tested in the field before beginning the general survey.

• This initial test will determine the weaknesses in the questionnaire; thereafter, further testing and revising should be continued until test questionnaire is perfected.

Collecting data


The accuracy of the survey will be enhanced if the interviewers are well trained. All interviewers must fully understand the purpose of the survey, the sample plan, and the questionnaire itself. They should be carefully instructed on conducting the interview, the meaning and reasoning behind each question, and the manner of recording specific comments.

  • Most of the operators of small fish farms in the developing countries do not keep records and their memories may be faulty. They sometimes give low figures on production and high figures on cost for tax collection purposes. In this case, multiple visits may be necessary to confirm data.

Analyzing data


  • Data analysis is the core of a survey. Each specific objective requires separate consideration and appropriate analytical techniques. The appropriate analysis need not be complex; a good description with cross tabulation and graphs may be adequate in some cases. However, statistical methods may be necessary for estimating, predicting, testing significance, etc.

  • To test whether a particular performance or two groups is significantly different, the z-test is usually used for large samples and the t-test for small samples. The F-test is frequently used to test the effectiveness of different treatments in the experiment. Finally, the chi-square test deals with the analysis of counted data that tests compatibility of observed and expected outcomes.

Sample list of items for socioeconomic survey

Sample List of Items for Socioeconomic Survey

(1) Name of respondent

A. General Information

(2) Address of respondent

(3) Location of Pond

(4) Pond areas:

(5) Water Supply

(6) Experience: Years farm in operation

(7) Pond ownership

B. Stocking/Pond No.

(1) Beginning inventory

(2) Cost or fry per crop

(3) Source of stocking materials

(4) How is price of fry/fingerlings determined

(5) Number of stocking per crop

Aquaculture economics

  • (1) Type : Feed, Fertilizer, Pesticides, Supplementary feed

  • (2) How knowledge of feeding/fertilization/pesticide

  • technique acquired

C. Feed/Fertilizer/Pesticides/Pond No

D. Labor/Pond No.

  • (1) Labor (man/hour) required for crop (Family labor)

  • Pond preparation

  • Stocking




Repair and maintenance





Aquaculture economics

  • (2) Payment (Hired labor)

  • Caretaker


  • (3) Annual salaries and wages of management personnel



E. Harvesting/Pond No.

(1) Production/crop

(2).Ending inventory

Aquaculture economics

(1) Channels and costs

Direct sale

F. Marketing

Auction sale

Cooperative sale

(2) Method of payment: Cash, Credit

(3) Sale to same buyers

G. Loans

(1) Loans borrowed for initial capital

(2) Sources of loans , amount of loans and interest

(3) What factors accounted for the choice of the particular source

(4) What problems do you encounter in borrowing

Aquaculture economics

H. Other farm expenses for entire farm

Fuel and oil






Others (specify)

Aquaculture economics

(1) Pond


I. Inventory of Assets

Sluice gates

Water canals

Pond excavation


Other (specify)

(2) Buildings


Residence (on farm)

Caretaker’s house


Other (specify)

(3) Transportation

Motor boat


Other (specify)

Aquaculture economics

(4) Nets

(5) Equipment



J. Problems and Other Information

Feeding machine


Feed mixture

Other (specify)

(1) What problems are encountered in the industry?

Unfavorable price structure

Lack of proper infrastructure

Unavailability of credit

Shortage of fry

High price of inputs such as feed, fertilizer, ice, Fuel.

Limited market

Lack of extension service

Lack of skilled workers

Aquaculture economics

(2) Can government help to improve the industry?

(3) Percentage of operator’s income from fish culture

(4) Source of other income (specify)

(5) Mortality rate from stocking to harvesting (percent)

(6) Number of harvests per crop

(7) Reason for harvesting schedule:

To optimize production

To get highest price

Availability of fry restocking

Need for money

(8) Method of harvesting

Aquaculture economics


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