Resilience of integrated agri-aquaculture systems in subtropical NE Argentina

Integration between the production of aquatic organisms and other types of production on a given farm is known as integrated agriculture–aquaculture (IAA). Its potential to generate synergisms between subsystems and to supply local markets is expected to enhance agricultural sustainability. Aquaculture provides roughly half (47%) the global fish supply, and most of this volume is produced in the People’s Republic of China where IAA systems have a long history. However, forecasts about aquaculture development predict the disappearance of IAA systems or their evolution into specialized and industrial enterprises. Currently, the future of family-based farming systems is a topic of debate. Authors from different schools have projected their disappearance, forecasts which have consequences for decision making, especially in agricultural policies. However, despite predictions from academics regarding the demise of small farms in the long-term, family-based farming still dominates agriculture in developing countries, and thus its role cannot be ignored. In the 1990s, the implementation of neoliberal policies in Argentina (dissolution of regulatory agencies, market liberalization) precipitated an economic crisis. This crisis resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of family farmers, and the replacement of mixed farms with monocultures of grains. Misiones, one of Argentina’s most underdeveloped provinces , has the highest proportion of family-owned farms in the country. In this region, a process contrary to what occurred in the rest of the country took place. As a consequence of the price crisis for traditional crops (yerba mate, tea, tobacco, tung), family farmers sought to diversify their production. Among the introduced activities, aquaculture was one of the most widespread. In the central and eastern departments, the number of family farms has increased, demonstrating a process of resistance in the countryside. These demographic variables could indicate a high system resilience . The case of Misiones Province is presented as an exception to the negative forecasts for the future of aquaculture and family-based farming systems. This could demonstrate the existence of different, alternative stable states and the mistake of believing that history is deterministic. The study of family farms can contribute to an understanding of the resilience of these systems and an analysis of their possible future trajectories.

Lead Investigator: 
Misiones Province
Temporal Scope: 
Natural System: 
Paranaense Forest
Human System: 
Settlers ("colonos")