NACA did not go the way many projects had gone; it flourished after project funding ended. This largely reflects the correctness of the strategy of FAO and UNDP in establishing a network organization based on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, and the wisdom of the NACA Governments? decision to continue to invest in NACA. This is the third of a series on ?The Lessons from NACA.? The earlier ones are in the previous issues of Aquaculture Asia. It casts NACA as a public investment and, with some figures, tries to answer the question as to whether it is paying off.
This is a historical document describing the outcomes of NACA during the initial phase of its existance as an UNDP project, prior to becoming an intergovernmental organization. NACA was identified by the 1975 FAO Regional Workshop on Aquaculture Planning in Asia, and adopted by the 1976 FAO Technical Conference on Aquaculture in Kyoto. The need of regional aquaculture centres was recognized on both occasions as essential to the coordination of cooperative research, training and information exchange in a collective effort to promote aquaculture development on a regional basis, especially with emphasis on sharing available resources in accordance with the concept of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC). Despite diverse development emphasis on aquaculture systems in the Asia and the Pacific Region, there was a keen interest to transfer known aquaculture technologies among the countries making it possible for effective cooperation in the transfer of technical know-how under the project's mandate. Accelerated collective development was made possible through cooperative research, training and information exchange activities. The project was signed on 7 June 1979 by 11 participating governments, namely, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Activity implementation started in August 1980 upon the appointment of the Project Coordinator, with the project office located at the National Inland Fisheries Institute, Bangkok.
The reason for having a network was that sharing resources and responsibilities among institutions and countries is probably the only practical and cost-effective means available (then and now) for identifying and solving the diverse problems?arising from: (a) the diversity of species, farming systems, and environments, and (b) the varying levels of development of the countries, and the diverse problems that the countries of the Asia-Pacific region face in modernizing, expanding and sustaining aquaculture. The networking and sharing approach was also in line with the policy of the governments to promote regional self-reliance through technical cooperation. Cooperation becomes more compelling with limited resources of governments and donors, and the need to best utilize internal resources and external support. The complex and many challenges faced in the development of aquaculture, a relatively new food producing and employment-generating activity, also argue for a collaborative approach to make efficient use of resources and solve common problems. Adding another dimension to cooperation, the NACA members have committed to the principle that the stronger members help the others.