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US university leading $15 million project to improve impoverished, aquaculture-led economies

Overall goal of project is to create 'real world impact.'

Mississippi State University (MSU) will lead a new $15 million (€13.2 million) federal initiative to reduce poverty and improve living standards for people dependent on aquaculture-led economies.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) funding over the next five years will support the Feed the Future Innovation Lab on Fish (FIL), led through the university's Global Center for Aquatic Food Security, run by Mark Lawrence.

The laboratory is not a specific site, but rather, a mechanism through which academic, private, and public partners can identify solutions for global challenges.

It will work to fill in these gaps by studying ways of improving production, reducing and mitigating risk to fish production systems, and improving human outcomes.

Project activities will initially focus on regions deemed priority areas for aquaculture and fisheries development by FIL and USAID: West Africa, East Africa, and Asia. Initial work will take place at the local level to develop best practices that can be scaled to national and regional level.

"The overall goal of the FIL is conducting research that leads to real world impact. USAID expects much more than just published papers," said Lawrence, associate dean and professor in MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. "True success will be measured by adoption of our findings and changes in practice, leading to an actual benefit to farmers, feed producers, and families."

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish uses a "Leader with Associates" model, through which MSU will facilitate associate awards to research and development partners. The university will identify and manage a portfolio of investments for research and development activities that address both promising innovations and emerging challenges in aquaculture and fisheries through an integrated approach of blending multiple disciplines.

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