Manjunath from Shettyhalli says the venture is lucrative, he converts 7-acre paddy field into fish ponds

With cultivation of paddy no more remaining a lucrative proposition, many farmers in Malnad region have switched over to growing areca, maize and ginger. However, a young farmer from Shettyhalli village in the district has just refused to take the beaten path and earned a name for him in fish-seed rearing.

“The average profit from cultivation of paddy from an acre land range from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25, 000,” says R. Manjunath, explaining the reasons for breaking away from the herd. “You have to wait for 5 to 6 years to expect yield from an areca plant. The research has proved that cultivation of ginger will render the soil infertile. Considering these factors, I opted for fish seed rearing,” says the young farmer.

Rearing of fish seed is also an attractive proposition as it takes hardly three months to have your yield ready. “It is possible to undertake fish seed culturing twice a year. An annual profit of Rs. 70,000 to Rs 90,000 can be expected from rearing fish seed on an acre of land,” adds Mr. Manjunath, who began his venture on a 2-acre plot in 2007.

He had to wait patiently for a couple of years before making it big. Initially, returns from the venture were not lucrative. An awareness programme on fishery organised by Agriculture College, Navile, in his village in 2009 under the Rashtriya Krushi Vikasa Yojana turned out to be the game-changer. The experts who participated in the programme provided information on scientific methods of fish seed rearing. On his request, they visited his fish pond and tested the samples of soil and the water there. As per their suggestions, he added lime to the pond for soil acidity correction.

Prior to releasing the fish seeds to the pond, he added cattle dung to it to facilitate the growth of plankton, the basic food for the fishes. After these preparations, 12 lakh fish seeds were released to the pond. Oil cake and rice bran was provided as additional food for the spawns regularly.

In 72 days, the seeds had grown into fish fingerling of 5.37 cm length. Their survival rate was more than 50 per cent. Of the 12 lakh seeds he released, 6 lakh survived. With an investment of Rs. 80,000, he reaped Rs 1, 50,000 through sale of the fingerling. The profit from fish seeds cultivated on his 2-acre land in three months stood at Rs 70,000.

The lucrative returns from fish-seed rearing motivated Mr. Manjunath to convert his remaining 5-acre paddy field into fish ponds. He has purchased tankers necessary for transport fingerling. He has also purchased additional 2-acre near his village.

Motivation

Mr. Manjunath’s success has inspired 135 farmers in Shettyhalli and neighbouring Haatikatte village to take up fish seed rearing. The farmers purchase the seeds from fish seed farm of the State government at the Bhadra Reservoir Project at the price of Rs 1,000 for one lakh seeds. After culturing these fish seeds for three months, they sell them at the rate of Rs 26,000 for one lakh fishes.

The average survival rate of the seeds in Shettyhalli and Haatikatte is around 35 per cent. “By adopting scientific practices, it is possible to achieve a survival rate of 50 per cent,” says Mr. Manjunath.

Fingerlings cultured here are purchased by the government and released reservoirs across the State. It is also sold to people contracted by gram panchayats to rear fish in village tanks, and also to private fish rearing firms.