By: Antonio Garza de Yta*, Ph.D.
If Christopher Columbus had not been convinced that he would find a new way to the Far East, if the Wright Brothers had not believed that they could build a machine that would allow us to fly, or if Tomas Alba Edison had not tirelessly tried to create light through electricity, the history of this world and the way we live would look very different.
Mankind is what it is today because there are people who thought big, who had confidence, and who fought against all odds to make their dreams come true. Today I believe that aquaculture needs people like this who are confident, committed, and persistent.
A few days ago I was asked what made the difference between some countries and others in aquaculture. At the time I could not give a clear answer, now after thinking about it seriously, I think that the great virtue of some countries was to think big.
I remember visiting Ecuador in 2011 when people started talking about “the best shrimp in the world.”
At the time, many were incredulous that such a campaign could work, but the National Chamber of Aquaculture, which integrates the entire value chain, took the reins, and as a whole, as a country, they began to believe that they would gradually be able to become the producer of the best shrimp in the world.
Today, I believe that their shrimp, if not the best, is one of the best. It is impressive to see how this dynamic of believing in themselves has led them to produce more than a million tons of shrimp and export more than five billion dollars a year.
“Whatever it is, Ecuador is where it is today because they dared to dream, have faith and worked hard to achieve their vision. We can only applaud them and try to follow their example.”
Other countries such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Egypt have also believed in themselves and increased their production significantly, but from my point of view, the future of major developments in aquaculture technology will now be in the Middle East.
I am very pleased to note that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Oman attach particular importance to aquaculture and have added it to their priorities at the country level, allocating large investments and budgets to get something going that is part of national security for them: contributing to food security by producing high-quality animal protein in the most feasible way.
“We need to pay very close attention to what is coming in this region of the world.”
We see the other side of the coin in countries like Mexico, where it is simply not seen how or when the activity will be ignited. There is no vision, no strategy, and not will. Hopefully, the commitment made in the Shanghai Declaration will be fulfilled to make this activity a real priority at the national and regional levels.
But, to be quite honest, Mexico is not the only country that is experiencing this situation, even if it is the one that pains me the most because it is the one that is closest to my heart. This huge group of countries must dare to believe in themselves, to work as a team and not accept the stories that they are a poor country or that progress is not needed to be happy.
¡In a world that is increasingly trying to divide us, we need to be united now more than ever!
The countries that want to realize aquaculture must, yes or yes, dream, dare, cooperate, work as a team, give everything. It is time to think big or die trying!
WAS President 2021 – 2022. Antonio Garza de Yta, President, Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF), a renowned international aquaculture professional, who holds a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in Aquaculture from the University of Auburn, USA.
He is an aquaculture expert, FAO frequent consultant, as well as a specialist in strategic planning.
Ex-director of Extension and International Training for the University of Auburn and creator of the Certification for Aquaculture Professionals in that academic institution.