In a year, the group earned Rs. 12 lakhs from sale of fish alone

A number of large water bodies and vast stretches of paddy growing in wet lands dot Allepey district, Kerala. Geographically the presence of several ponds and lakes in the region make it ideal for rearing fish and ducks other than the regular, paddy.

To double income, farmers were advised by scientists from CPCRI (Central Plantation crop research institute), Kasaragod KVK to grow both fish and ducks in an integrated model.

Accordingly, seven farmers from Pachakkad farmers club at Thamarakulam panchayat in Alappuzha decided to try it out in a 110-acre public water body in the village which was a paddy field some 20 years back, now filled with rain water throughout the year.

The activities started when a Gulf returned person took a water body on lease from the grama panchayath. He was joined by another six persons and they all approached the scientists for technical advice and visited several model units before initiating their venture.

The water body has one and a half metre depth of water uniformly throughout the year and its bottom is covered with sand naturally, which made it suitable for fish farming.

Through their own efforts, the seven partners managed to strengthen the bund on all the sides and solved the acidity problem by adding lime powder to the water.

Initially grass carp variety fingerlings were introduced since the water body was filled with algae and grass. This variety of fish feeds mainly on grass and algae in the water up to seven folds of its body weight.

Within three months of the introduction of this fish variety in the pond, the water became crystal clear. Later catla, rohu and mrugal fingerlings were introduced. These three fish species feed in different layers of the water body.

Different levels

“While catla feeds in the upper layer with its peculiar lips, Rohu feeds in the middle portion and Mrugal feeds on the bottom portion of the water body with its parrot beak like lips,” says Dr. S.Ravi, scientist working with the CPCRI, KVK.

Since the demand for local varieties was high, varieties such as varal, pearl spot, poomeen (milk fish), thirutha etc., which were present in the reservoir were retained.

Recollecting from previous experience, the partners introduced tilapia fish which can be marketed at 4-5 months time.

Since the water body was not used for several years the growers did not have to invest money for feeding fishes throughout the season.

“For farmers seeing is believing and personal interaction with those who are already in the venture aids in clearing many doubts for them. Hours of talking to them and giving suggestions will not serve much compared to a personal field visit,” says Dr Ravi.

The group had invested about three lakhs for the venture that could be recovered only after a period of 10 – 12 months. In the meantime based on the experts’ advice they planned to rear ducks as it would speed up their income.

Indigenous breed

They attended training on scientific freshwater fish farming and integrated duck and fish farming.

As per the standard models developed by KVK, about 150 numbers of low cost duck sheds were erected above the pond and three months old chara and chemballi breed ducks (150 numbers) which are indigenous to the region introduced.

During the day time the birds scavenged the water body and at night roosted in the shelters. The birds started laying eggs at 5-6 months of age and the daily egg production was in the range of 100 – 120.

The eggs were sold at Rs. five at the site itself providing a daily income of Rs. 500 – 600. Half the money earned through sale of eggs was spent for feeding ducks and the remaining amount was spent towards the labour charges.

A total income of Rs. 1.8 lakhs was obtained through sale of duck eggs in one year (2011-2012).

The fish were also ready for netting and marketing by 10 months. Skilled persons were engaged for netting the fishes.

Marketing

Selling commenced everyday in the morning at 6.00 am. Local variety of fishes was sold at Rs. 200 per kg and carp variety for Rs.130/kg. Marketing was not a problem since the consumers preferred the local varieties because of their taste.

“They never used ice or ammonia for preserving the fishes” making it more healthy and tastier” says Dr. Ravi.

Excess fishes remaining after local sale were transported in a hired vehicle to adjacent local markets and sold within two hours.

The group also supplied the fishes based on booking within 10 km surroundings.

From the sale of fishes the group collected a total income of Rs.12 lakhs in one year.

The entrepreneurs have deposited six lakhs fingerlings this year in the water body for harvesting in 2013.

For more details readers can contact Dr. S. Ravi, KVK- Alleppey, Krishnapuram PO, Kayamkulam, email: From: kvkalapuzha@hotmail.com, mobile: 9447021205.