Addressed the expected future food crisis due to climate change, and led the Blue Revolution
Through field research and development of aquaculture methods/technologies suitable for the climate and environment of South and Southeast Asia, Dr. Gupta caused an explosive increase in production known to us now as the Blue Revolution. Having the insight that aquaculture, being able to provide relatively low-cost animal protein, would be the key to solving humanity’s future food crisis, since the 1960’s Dr. Gupta researched and developed compatible fish species that could both thrive in a hot and humid climate and a low-lying environment with seasonal floods. Especially from the latter part of the 1980’s, he correctly identified fish species such as ‘tilapia’ and ‘silver barb ’, which could thrive even in the turbid and shallow waters of Bangladesh and reach market size in five months.
As a result, Bangladesh annual fish production in 1986 which was only about 170,000 tons when the research started, soared to about 850,000 tons when Dr. Gupta retired in 2004. Since 2000, going beyond Asia, Dr. Gupta has striven to develop the right methods of aquaculture that may thrive in Africa, the frontline of world hunger.
Miraculously brought independence and self-sufficiency to the extreme-poor through the spread of innovative aquaculture methods
Dr. Gupta is a saint of the South and Southeast Asian poor, who rather than give fish to the poor and hungry, taught them how to farm fish, cultivating a miracle of independence and self-sufficiency. In order to address the hunger and nutrition deficiency problem of the extreme poor in South and Southeast Asia, Dr. Gupta developed low-cost, highly-efficient methods of aquaculture, and devoted himself to passing down his methods while living with the poor in their environment. As a result, those living in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty and hunger, not just greatly improved their nutritional status, but further instilled in them the hope for a better life.
In the 1970’s, India as a whole was focused on developing high-end aquaculture requiring expert methods and high costs such as shrimp farming benefiting the better-off farmers. However, during this period Dr. Gupta’s attention was on researching aquaculture methods that were low-cost and highly efficient and could be easily managed by the extreme poor and marginal farmers, developing such methods as ‘fish polyculture’, the culturing of a diversified mix of fish species in one pond, and ‘integrated aquaculture-agriculture’, called the eco-friendly method combining aquaculture and agriculture.
Furthermore, Dr. Gupta built partnerships with the local communities and worked tirelessly to teach his methods to the poor. Starting with small groups of 5~10 landless poor farmers in each group, he helped them to become motivated and taught them aquaculture skills. He worked to create a basis for their economic independence through fish farming in leased ponds with minimum financial support for the start-up costs for fish farming.
Significantly improved the social status and rights of Asian women
Dr. Gupta actively spread aquaculture methods to South and Southeast Asian women with a low social status, resulting in not only increased household incomes and nutrition, but also drastically improved the social status and rights of women. Aware of the fact that some women in poor households in South and Southeast Asian countries have no income because they do not participate in economic activities, Dr. Gupta prepared opportunities for women to participate in economic activities. He personally convinced some of the religious leaders who were negative towards women’s participation in society to allow them to participate more, and motivated women to be self-sufficient and educated poor women farmers on the basic skills required for aquaculture. In addition, he cooperated with local organizations so that women could receive the funding and land necessary for their economic activities. These initiatives were such a great success that now women form considerable work force in fish farming, and this has brought positive changes that has improved women’s rights and status both within the household and in the Society.