The women earn Rs.3,000-Rs.4,000 a year from backyard rearing

Venkatanahalli a peri-urban village, housing 125 residents, close to Bangalore International Airport, is a hub of activity today.

The women in the village are actively involved in dairy, goat, sheep rearing, preparation of value added products, petty businesses and making leaf plates. Many support their family in agricultural activities.

Prominent among them is Mrs. Narayanamma, an established ornamental fish breeder and role model for many women in the region.

Income generation

“Thanks to the guidelines given to us by the Department of Inland Fisheries Division, University of Agricultural sciences, Bangalore, I earn Rs, 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 a year by growing ornamental fishes in my backyard,” she says.

The University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) and IOWA State University of Science & Technology, U.S., funded a training programme on ornamental fish farming modules for rural farm women.

Initial help

“Initially we provided four circular cement rings each of 500-600 litres capacity, live food, production tank of 150 litres capacity, covering net, plastic tubs, hand nets and plankton nets to the women and supplied parent stock of different varieties of fishes such as mollies, guppies, platys and sword tails to enable them to develop their own breeding programs,” says Dr. D. Seenappa, Chief Scientific Officer, Inland Fisheries Division, Main Research Station of the University.

Live feeds

The women learnt to make live feeds such as daphnia, mosquito larvae, earth worms, and fruit flies and dry feeds —pellets, flakes and egg-custard — using locally available inputs.

“Initially, feed for the fingerlings consisted of a mixture of 15 grams of cow dung manure and 5 grams of groundnut given in three installments (1-2 gms daily) during the first week and doubled during every subsequent week,” says Dr. Seenappa.

Rearing period

Throughout the rearing period of 40-60 days the women continued to apply the manure on alternate days and partial water exchange (4-5 times) after the first month depending on the water's colour.

“All the women harvested about 120-130 marketable sized fish and sold them to buyers at a farm gate price of Rs.3- Rs.5 per fish.

“They harvested 4-5 crops earning about Rs. 3,000 - Rs. 4, 000 a year. The department staff also helped them in marketing by getting an MOU signed between the growers and the buyers,” explains Dr. Seenappa.

Generating interest

Other members in the village got motivated and this resulted in expansion of the activity to over 30 families in the village today in a phased manner investing their own money.

The success of Mrs. Narayanamma and her group stimulated several SHGs' from neighboring villages in the past couple of years to try their hands in rural ornamental fish rearing, “as it is emerging as a popular income generating activity among women,” adds Dr. Seenappa.

Development schemes

Based on the success rate at rural levels several development schemes/initiatives are also being introduced by the Karnataka government and other institutions in support of popularizing the activity at community levels.

The Department of Fisheries supports the SHGs of Venkatanahalli village and other neighboring villages by donating an amount of Rs.10,000- Rs.20,000 per group as one time grant (revolving fund) under the Mahila Swayalambana Yojana.

Marketing link

“Adoption of technologies and linking to local market is crucial to make the venture sustainable.

“Seeing the success of these women in earning money, several other farmers are also expressing interest in starting similar breeding units. It is a win-win situation for both the farmers and the Inland Fisheries Division,” says Dr. Seenappa.

For more information readers can contact Dr. D. Seenappa, Chief Scientific Officer, Inland Fisheries Division, Main Research Station, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Hebbal, Bangalore, Phone&Fax:080-23515644, email:drdseenappa@yahoo.co.in, mobile: 9845244458.