Dwindling farm land resources and its direct impact on crop productivity makes many farmers explore other options.

Knowledgeable farmers grow more than one crop along with fishes and some livestock to provide subsidiary income.

“One important reason is that the animal wastes can be effectively recycled as manure for their crops, and also as feed for fishes, thereby reducing huge expenses for purchase of inputs. In an integrated component nothing goes waste.

Steady increase

“One becomes food or input for another, all intrinsically woven together. In Bihar the number of farmers taking up integrated fish farming has seen a steady increase over the last 5-6 years,” says Dr. Tun Tun Singh, Junior Fisheries Research officer, Mithapur, Patna.

Mr. Ram Shakha Chaudhary owner of R.N. fish farm in Barri Behta village in Sitamarhi district, Bihar, is a good example of a successful integrated fish farmer in the state.

Several farmers are visiting his farm to learn how effectively the farmer has integrated all the components —fish, livestock and crops — and is able to generate several lakh rupees a year as income.

“I was attracted to the fish farming business as several farmers in my State are into fish cultivation, which generates good income,” says Mr. Chaudhary. The farmer initially invested about Rs. 6.25 lakhs (own funding of Rs. 1.25 lakh and Rs. 5 lakhs from bank loan) to construct four ponds in a total area of 11 acres.

Additional activities

Through a common friend he got acquainted with Dr. Tun Tun Singh, who advised him to establish additional activities like fish seed hatchery unit, vermicompost unit, dairy farming, bio gas unit and horticulture unit, without stopping with growing fishes alone.

Bihar has bountiful natural aquatic resources in the form of ponds, tanks, bow lakes and reservoirs. Fisheries are an important, most promising and fast growing area in the state.

“The total fish and fish seed production of the state is 4.01 lakh metric tonnes and 450 million fish seed fry respectively during 2012-13,” says Dr. Tun Tun.

Last year alone Mr. Chaudhary earned more than Rs.9 lakh from the sale of fish and milk and realised a net profit of about Rs. 4 lakhs.

Selling

The fish and the milk from his eight cows are being sold at the farm gate itself. “I sell the fishes for Rs.100 a kg and the milk at Rs. 20 a litre.

“In the last one year I have sold about 700 kg of fish and 12,000 litres of milk. In addition I have also been able to sell 120 lakh numbers of fish fries (young ones) to several farmers in the state. The income has improved my economic status. Both my children are IT professionals,” says the farmer with a sense of pride. The Government supports and encourages fish growers in the State which is the primary reason why several farmers are entering this line.

Role model

“Several schemes with 40 to 90 per cent subsidy assistance are available for entrepreneurs to develop new farms for increasing fish production and to provide employment opportunities for rural youth. Mr. Ram’s farm is a role model of integrated fish farming in the State,” says Mr. Nishat Ahmad, Director, fisheries.

Increasing feed costs for fishes and fertilizers are creating a growing awareness among several fish growers to efficiently use the waste from their animals for growing their crops.

Reduces input cost

It is generally estimated that 60 per cent of operational cost is spent on feed and fertilizer in fish farming.

This type of model is more important for farmers having small land holding as it reduces operational costs, according to Dr. Tun Tun.

For more information readers can contact Mr. Ram Shakha Chaudhary, Mobiles:.09973306675 and 09430082811 and Dr. Tun Tun Singh, email :ttsingh2002@gmail.com, mobiles: 09473191559 and 09431086114.