Risk-based pedigree-analysis for regulation of prophylactic aquaculture health products and improved smallholder health management in Bangladesh

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: Institute of Aquaculture


Rapidly growing demand for seafood products for domestic and export markets is driving intensification of aquaculture sectors still dominated by small-holders in Bangladesh. Ensuring effective health management has become the single most important challenge for sustainable intensification of the smallholder sector just increasing restrictions on use antibiotic and other therapeutants are being imposed. Farmers are increasingly dependent on a proliferating range of poorly regulated prophylactic health products including probiotics (beneficial bacteria), often of uncertain provenance & efficacy.

Although probiotics are often viewed as a response to the problem of 'imprudent' antibiotic use in aquaculture, screening of probiotics in a previous BBSRC and DFID funded project (IMAQulate Project, Ref: BB/N005082/1) revealed serious problems with a number of commercial products including; ineffective active ingredient concentrations, contamination with bacteria pathogenic to humans, fraudulent inclusion of antibiotics, presence of antimicrobial resistance genes. In addition many products lack of credibility regarding their mode of action & efficacy claims. Findings also point to a lack of effective sampling approaches as part of emergent regulatory efforts resulting in lack of detection of some problem-products in screening efforts whilst the economic burden of poor quality assurance and unjustified claims is likely to fall most heavily on small-holders.

In response the project has developed a PHP risk analysis tool helping users to identify 'high-risk' products based on label-information and other secondary indicators. Focusing on emergent market for PHPs in pangasius and shrimp sectors, this project (PEDIGREE) aims to increase awareness of these issues to support improved regulation for safety and quality assurance in Bangladesh and more effective small-holder health management.
To do this the project will feed into a national health management regulatory strategy being developed by the Department of Fisheries as well as providing probiotic quality and management advice to farmers through a farmer advisory hotline established and operated by project NGO partner Practical Action Bangladesh.

Lead by the University of Stirling (UK), other partners in Bangladesh include the Bangladesh Aquaculture Product Companies Association (BAPCA), the WorldFish Center Bangladesh (WFC) and Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU).

Planned Impact

Led by the University of Stirling (UoS), this project will communicate and exploit findings of the BBSRC/DFID, Newton Funded project "Evaluating Costs and Benefits of Prophylactic Health Products (PHPs) and Novel Alternatives on Smallholder Aquaculture Farmers in Asia and Africa (IMAQulate: BB/N005082/1)", with users in Bangladesh. 'User-partners' are a producer organisation, the Bangladesh Aqua Product Companies Association (BAPCA) that represents 65 members nationwide and the NGO, Practical Action Bangladesh (PAB). Intensifying smallholder farmers generating greatest demand for PHPs in two aquaculture sectors; shrimp (penaeiid and macrobrachium spp.) and finfish (pangasius catfish and tilapia) are the primary target beneficiary group.

A newly developed predictive tool along with other value-chain survey findings from the IMAQulate project will be exploited to increase capacity farmers to identify reputable probiotics and to use them prudently and effectively, thus reducing overall antibiotic use, with knock-on reductions in antibiotic resistance gene prevalence and benefits for animal and human health. The project will also to exploit the same tool to introduce a risk-based sampling approach to safety and quality assurance as part of an regulatory strategy being developed as part of a national health management strategy being developed by the Department of Fisheries .
To acheive this goal the project will work directly with the named industry and NGO partners on two sets of concurrent and integrated activities. UoS staff will work with partners to use the tool to identify and sample 'low' and 'high-risk' PHPs for screening. Quality assurance professionals nominated by BAPCA will visit the UoS to be trained and conduct the laboraty screening based best-practices approaches consistent with resource limitations in Bangladesh. In a parallel thrust the project will work directly with NGO Practical Action (PAB) to provide small-holder farmers with access to impartial, independent advice on product quality, risks and efficacy advice through an established telephone farmer hotline advisory service which provided advice to over 4,000 of the projects target small-holder aquaculture beneficiaries last year. Health management advice and the risk tool will be further attuned to farmer needs through combined assessment of health management queries in a PAB hotline database and IMAQulate survey outputs. BAPCA will assume responsibility for annual revision of a product inventory at the heart of the risk-tool post-project and will also exploit the tool as their business to consumer (B2C) corporate responsibility platform. BAPCA and its membership are thus committed to supporting this regulatory effort from a position of enlightened self-interest and social licence to operate. Membership may also be incorporated as a (low) risk-indicator in the PEDIGREE tool, contingent on screening outcomes. PEDIGREE will also contribute to capacity building of the BAPCA 'quality assurance exchangees in relevant laboratory analytical skills.

Co-Is from the WorldFish Centre Bangladesh (WFC) and the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) will also support the projects regulatory objectives through their existing roles in on-going strategic policy initiatives. Specifically BAPCA and the DoF are charged with preparing a national inventory of AMPs as a precursor to a registration and quality assurance scheme (covering traceability, labelling and contamination issues), a component of the National Heath Strategy. PEDIGREE will contribute outcomes of IMAQulate's on-going national PHP inventory effort to this process.


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Description Probiotics are microorganisms, mostly bacteria, that can provide health benefits to shrimp and fish when ingested or added to water. The PEDIGREE project coordinated by Institute of Aquaculture (IoA) at the Institute of aquaculture, is developing and applying a pioneering tool that will minimise environmental and occupational health risks associated with the use of probiotics in shrimp farming. Probiotics are microorganisms, mostly bacteria, that can provide health benefits to shrimp and fish when ingested or added to water. The interdisciplinary team is launching the computer-based tool in Bangladesh - as it is currently experiencing a growing demand for probiotics with the intensification in shrimp and fish farming - but the scientists believe a wider roll-out in the future could benefit other countries in a similar position. A delegation from the South Asian country visited the University to finalise the initial launch of the tool. The Pedigree project brings research from a previous study, IMAQulate, into practical use. Both projects are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.There are an estimated 250,000, mostly small-scale, shrimp farmers in Bangladesh. Some of these farmers and hatchery owners are starting to use probiotics as prophylactics to prevent disease outbreaks and manage water quality. Due to the recent intensification of shrimp farming, most of the probiotics used by Bangladeshi farmers are imported from India and around the world. As probiotics fall outwith the definition of drugs, they are in a regulatory grey area. Consequentially, production practices and product quality is highly variable - with many products of limited effectiveness applied under equally variable farming conditions. Our research also identifies potential risks to the environment and shrimp farm workers, and the marketing of these products as benign may be misleading.
The tool uses a variety of indicators to differentiate riskier from higher-quality products, informing farmers and allowing regulators to focus limited resources where most needed. The indicators - based upon product label information and web research - were selected for their correlation with a range of risk factors, identified during laboratory analysis of product samples from Bangladesh and India.
Exploitation Route The tool has great potential for application in other countries facing regulatory challenges in rapidly intensifying export orientated aquaculture sectors most likely to use probiotics. Examples include farmed shrimp sectors will large numbers of small-scale farmers intensifying production practices in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Central America.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Retail

URL https://www.pedigree.stir.ac.uk/
Description The PEDIGREE inception workshop held in Dhaka in May 2019, was the impetus for a serious of workshops coordinated by the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) funded by USAID under a separate development project (Feed the Future BANA) being implemented by consortium member WorldFish Center Bangladesh. Outputs included (i) preparation of an inventory of aqua inputs in Bangladesh with generic names and origins (ii) an inventory on rules and regulations on aqua-inputs in Bangladesh and selected neighbouring countries (iii) an evaluation of laboratories and testing facilities in Bangladesh to facilitate their upgrading and a review of monitoring activities.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Retail
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

Title PEDIGREE (Prophylactic Health Product) Risk Assessment Tool 
Description The risk tool has been developed as a relational database management system (RDMS) using Microsoft ACCESS. The beta-version developed during the IMAQulate project has been extensively revised and updated to provide more comprehensive coverage of the evolving aray of PHPs, particularly probiotics distributed and marketed in Bangladesh. Revisions were primarily based on data provided by the 68 members of the Bangladesh Aquaculture Products Association (BAPCA), together with an IMAQulate product label photographic inventory and a review of similar research efforts initiated in Bangladesh Since IMAQulate. Data on a total for 692 products were entered or updated to give a total of 1,353 products in the database, of which 697 declared bacterial active ingredients. A traffic-light risk indication level has been developed as separate query system based on risk indicators evaluated in the IMAQulate project. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The revised tool was scheduled to be demonstrated at an end of project workshop, with inputs of the six participants from regulatory, academic, private and public sector that participated in the I-FLIP international exchange training programme at the University of Stirling (12-26 Nov 2019). This has been delayed due to the COVID-19 and no-cost extension request has been submitted to BBSRC to reschedule the event later in the year. 
Description ASC 
Organisation Aquaculture Stewardship Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), founded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), provides a certification scheme for aquaculture facilities globally. Certification and its implications for animal health management is a component of the research conducted by the IMAQulate project. Findings have potential to contribute to (i) evolution of ASC standards subject to periodic public review (ii) development of group certification systems designed to support participation of small-holder farmers (see below).
Collaborator Contribution ASC are a key third-sector stakeholder for the IMAQulate project and so this collaboration will bring opportunities for dissemination and exploitation of project findings. Specifically, ASC (and other certification bodies) are introducing mechanisms to enable smaller farmers to become certified against social and environmental performance standards, including group-certification and pre-improver programmes. 2019-2020: Discussions are ongoing with Roy van Daatselaar (Global Lead, Improver Programme ASC) as to how the PEDIGREE risk tool can be incorporated into ASC's pre-certification farm improver programme which is ideally positioned to support small-scale shrimp farmers in Bangladesh.
Impact Dr Murray presented IMAQulate results on PHP risk management to 50+ small-holder farmers at a group-certification meeting hosted by ASC in Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India in January 2018. Outputs of PEDIGREE and its precursor IMAQULATE project are also the basis for recommendations submitted as part of a public review process (initiated in Mar 2019) underpinning development of ASCs new 'aligned' aquaculture social and environmental sustainability standards.
Start Year 2017
Description Fish Inspection and Quality Control Laboratory, Department of Fisheries, Dhaka 
Organisation Government of Bangladesh
Country Bangladesh 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Project consortium members visited the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Laboratory of the Department of Fisheries in Dhaka as part of PEDIGREE inception week in Bangladesh (May 2020). Ms S. K. Farzana Islam a senior control officer, subsequently participated in the International exchange training programme held at the University of Stirling from the12-26th Nov 2020.
Collaborator Contribution This government body is responsible for sampling and quality testing probiotics and other health products used in a rapidly growing intensive aquaculture sector and as such a key PEDIGREE stakeholder. Ms Farzana Islam shared DoF policy development objectives and supporting control laboratory actions with other (academic, private and development sector) partners during the Stirling exchange programme.
Impact DoF will use the PEDIGREE tool to support risk based sampling of prophylactic health products in order to optimise use of limited analytical resources.
Start Year 2019
Description Professor S M Rafiquzzaman 
Organisation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University
Country Bangladesh 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Professor S M Rafiquzzaman has established a microbiological analytical laboratory as part of the Department of Fisheries, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was successful in applying for and participated in the PEDIGREE international exchange training programme held at the University of Stirling from 12-26 Nov 2019. Based on networking.
Collaborator Contribution Professor S M Rafiquzzaman has modeled a micro-project (funded by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council) on the design of the IMAQulate project. This involved sampling and qualitative and quantitative bacterial screening of some 20 commercial probiotics currently marketed to shrimp and fish farmers in Bangladesh.
Impact The products screened by Professor Rafiquzzaman and his team have been compiled as part of an ongoing revision and updating of the PEDIGREE risk tool inventory.
Start Year 2019
Description Needs Analysis Workshop, M.M. Poultry & Fish Diagnostic Center, Trishal, Mymensingh Bangladesh, 17 May 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The workshop hosted by a livestock diagnostics company took place in a major commercial hub servicing intensive fin fish aquaculture sectors in the NW of Bangladesh.
The project PI (Dr Francis Murray - UoS) and CoIs (Dr Andrew Desbois - UoS), Dr 'Ripon' M.M. Haque (BAU) and Mr. Shafiqul Islam (Practical Action) summarised key IMAQulate findings of relevance to prophylactic health product (PHP) distributor and end-users. This included basic advice on product quality and efficacy indicators to support farmer decision making. Details of the PEDIGREE risk tool and exchange programme competition were also shared with further coverage by local and national television and print media.
Following the meeting consortium members visited a e-learning hub operated by the Department of Agriculture with advisory inputs from Practical Action and one of avenues for wider dissemination of PEDIGREE/ IMAQulate outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.pedigree.stir.ac.uk/pedigree-inception-activities-bangladesh-12-20-may-2019/
Description PEDIGREE I-FLIP Exchange Programme Training 12-26 Nov 20 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Following successful induction activities in Dhaka and Mymensingh (12-20 May 2019) six candidates (rather than the planned 5) from private sector, government regulatory, NGO and academic institutions in Bangladesh were competitively selected to participate in bespoke training activities implemented over a 2 week period at the Institute of Aquaculture during November 2019 ). Individual learning outcomes were developed consistent with their institutional and PEDIGREE objectives. These included development of a prophylactic health product (PHP) teaching module to be included in the animal health curriculum at Bangladesh Agricultural University, development of PHP voluntary assurance guidelines by producer organisation BAPCA and content development for Practical Actions national agriculture telephone advisory service.
Further details of project activities including media coverage are available on the project website (https://www.pedigree.stir.ac.uk/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.pedigree.stir.ac.uk/pedigree-exchange-candidate-selection/
Description PEDIGREE multi-stakeholder inception workshop, Dhaka, Hotel Topaz 14th May 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Findings of the precursor IMAQulate project were presented with special focus on prophylactic health product (PHP) regulatory developments in the emergent intensive farmed shrimp sector in Andhra Pradesh, India - as a case study of particular relevance to Bangladesh. Position papers were presented by consortium members including representatives of the Bangladesh Aquaculture Chemicals Products (BAPCA) association, third-sector and regulatory bodies. The PEDIGREE risk tool was show-cased and the BBSRC I-FLIP PEDIGREE exchange opportunity launched as a competitive process with local media coverage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.pedigree.stir.ac.uk/pedigree-inception-activities-bangladesh-12-20-may-2019/
Description Press Release 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A University of Stirling press-release summarizing of the IMAQulate project of objectives of the PEDIGREE project was released to coincide with with the BBSRC I-FLIP training programme for 6 participants from Bangladesh regulatory, academic, private and third-sector institutions hosted by the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling (12th - 26th Nov 2020).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.stir.ac.uk/news/2019/12/project-to-enhance-shrimp-and-fish-health-in-bangladesh/