$15 million to MSU-led Fish Innovation Lab extends global food security pursuits through aquatic systems

A man works in an aquaculture pond in Zambia
The MSU-led Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish works to improve aquatic health and nutrition with partners around the world, including at this aquaculture pond in Zambia. (Submitted photo)

Contact: Laura Zseleczky

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University has received a five-year, up to $15 million extension for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish to address global food security challenges through aquatic food systems.    

“Feed the Future Innovation Labs are driving novel solutions to the increasingly complex challenges we face today,” said Dina Esposito, Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant to the Administrator for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security. “USAID is pleased to continue this partnership and advance the Fish Innovation Lab's critical contribution to support small-scale fishers and their communities.”

The Fish Innovation Lab is funded by USAID as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The Fish Innovation Lab works to reduce poverty and improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods in partner countries by supporting research on sustainable aquatic food systems. It is led through the university’s Global Center for Aquatic Health and Food Security.

“This extension of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish marks another exciting milestone in our history of excellence in aquaculture programs,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “We have a great team of personnel here on our campus and within our partner organizations, and they are making tremendous progress in improving aquatic health and nutrition for stakeholders around the world. I look forward to seeing the impact of this initiative continue to grow over the next five years and beyond.”

Building on the first five years and $15 million in funding for the Fish Innovation Lab’s research and capacity development activities, the second phase continues to 2028, subject to the availability of funds. New activities will prioritize work on climate-smart aquatic system innovations, nutrition and food systems and inclusive access to improved inputs, such as fish feed and seed. The lab will continue to focus its work in priority countries including Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia.

“Aquatic food systems hold tremendous potential to support global food security goals,” said Dr. Mark Lawrence, director of the Fish Innovation Lab and William L. Giles Distinguished Professor in MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Under MSU’s leadership, this extension will enable the Fish Innovation Lab to support critical research activities that address some of the most pressing development challenges and leverage the power of aquatic foods for a healthy planet and people.”

A man holds up prawns
A farmer in Bangladesh displays the harvest from his integrated prawn-fish-vegetable farming, a climate-resilient practice taught by members of the Fish Innovation Lab team. (Submitted photo)

The lab will identify a new portfolio of research activities through a competitive selection process. Connecting a consortium of public and private organizations, government agencies, universities, and aquaculture and fisheries associations, it serves as an innovation platform to address promising advances and emerging challenges in aquatic food systems. Activities enhance food safety and nutrition, improve aquatic food production systems, increase trade and domestic market opportunities, and ultimately improve the nutrition and livelihoods of households and small-scale producers in partner countries.

The lab’s first five-year research portfolio encompassed 24 activities in 10 countries, primarily in Africa and Asia, including seven activities led by 14 MSU faculty members across seven departments.

MSU is internationally recognized for its expertise in aquatic health, earning a designation by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as one of five global Reference Centers on Antimicrobial Resistance and Aquaculture Biosecurity. MSU’s Global Center for Aquatic Health and Food Security, based in the College of Veterinary Medicine, aims to reduce world hunger through research that supports sustainable aquaculture and ecological health of aquatic resources. For more information on the Global Center for Aquatic Health and Food Security, visit gcahfs.msstate.edu or contact the center at gcahfs@msstate.edu.

For more information about the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, visit fishinnovationlab.msstate.edu or contact the Fish Innovation Lab at fishlab@cvm.msstate.edu.

Mississippi State University is taking care of what matters. Learn more at www.msstate.edu.


USAID is the lead U.S. government agency for international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance and help people progress beyond assistance.

About Feed the Future

Feed the Future is America’s initiative to combat global hunger and poverty. It brings partners together to help some of the world’s poorest countries harness the power of agriculture and entrepreneurship to jumpstart their economies and create new opportunities. For more information, visit feedthefuture.gov.

This news release was made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID under the Feed the Future initiative. The contents are the responsibility of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.