Fisheries and Animal Husbandry Departments help farmers to rear fish, goats

Farmer S. Muniyammal’s land in Tirumangalam has a fish pond, a vermicompost unit and separate enclosures for chicken, ducks and goats. Integrated farms, such as hers, are being considered an effective solution to mitigate drought by farmers in the district.

“The Department of Agriculture is also propagating this under the ‘Integrated Farming System (IFS)’ where we have tied up with different departments. The Fisheries Department helps farmers set up fish ponds in their lands and the Animal Husbandry Department aids in procurement of buffaloes and goats,” says Jaisingh Gnanadurai, Joint Director of Agriculture. “IFS encourages farmers not to solely depend on their crops but explore other avenues for income generation,” he adds.

Vermicompost units

A farmer in Kulamangalam, V. Krishnan, says the integrated system is self-sufficient and has been cost-effective. “Waste from poultry birds is used as food for fish and the manure from goats and buffaloes maintains the vermicompost unit,” he explains.

“The coconut grove I have in my farm has provided me with steady income since coconuts fetch a good price locally,” Mr. Krishnan adds.

“There is no farm nearby that has an integrated set up like this and many farmers have evinced interest in it since most of them have incurred losses due to water scarcity,” he explains.

V. C. Velaichamy, an agriculturalist in Mulaikuruchi near Samayanallur, points out that the clay soil in his farmland helps to retain water in the fish pond.

“I introduced 500 ‘Katlas’ in the fish pond eight months back. Farmers should make it a point to dig farm ponds in a small area which will effectively conserve water and rear fish, which will provide an additional income,” he says.

A number of farmers, including Mr. Velaichamy, who have vermicompost units in their integrated farms, have reduced the use of chemical fertilizers and are growing organic produce.

Initiatives

In Kallipatti, Tirumangalam, Usilampatti and Kalligudi blocks, the Agriculture Department has indentified 12 beneficiaries each and offers them subsidy and expertise on setting up of integrated farms. This is being done to help farmers in the dry belt overcome drought.

A subsidy of Rs.55,000 is currently given to each farmer to set up an integrated farm which will cover the expenses of setting up a vermicompost unit and a fish pond. “If not for rearing fish, digging farm ponds for water storage as part of the IFS has also helped in groundwater recharge,” an official says.

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