The farmers of Sonmar in Sarai Ranjan block, Samastipur district, Bihar have shown a way for productive utilization of water bodies (called chaurs) into an integrated aquaculture model.
The chaurs are spread over 44 hectares and about 43 farmers control their ownership. Till 2008, these chaurs were being utilized for capture of wild fishes.
About six young farmers from the area were trained by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna through Central Institute of Fisheries Education Regional Station, Kakinada by the State Fisheries Department, Government of Bihar.
The State Fishery Department, Govt. of Bihar with the help of a local bank called Kshetriya Gramin bank and Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana constructed a series of about 50 ponds for increased fish production.
About 43 farmers came together and formed Sonmar Chaur Matsya Vikash Samiti to monitor these activities, facilitate the resources, inputs and market the fishes.
Due to delayed rainfall, tubewells were sunk in several locations and a solar operated pump was also established with the help of fishery department.
ICAR joined the farmers to work in participatory mode to boost the economic status and nutritional security of the farmers by enhancing the aquaculture / agriculture production from the chaurs.
Since, farmers were finding it difficult to feed the fishes properly due to high cost of concentrate, the Council integrated duck, goat and cattle with fish to facilitate the supply of organic wastes to improve the overall productivity.
Fruits and vegetable crops were planted on the pond bunds to give additional income to farmers.
Several demonstrations for fish farmers for monitoring water quality in the pond were also done at periodical intervals by the scientist team.
A programme was organized to bring in awareness and encourage more farmers to take up this vocation.
(Dr. B.P. Bhat, Director, ICAR research complex for eastern region, Patna, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, phone: 0612 2223962.