About Rs. 80 lakh worth of fish has been sold in three months
When farming failed for residents of Shahjadapur village, Samastipur district, Bihar the perseverant farmers turned to fish farming and met with success.
The village is in Samastipur district, Bihar, and serves as a good example of perseverance by farmers. These farmers could not get any returns from their fields for the last 50 years due to water logging and heavy infestation with aquatic weeds.
The lands dried up after 20 years in 2009 due to severe drought, further adding to their misery.
When they realised that they could not survive by being dependant on their lands for growing crops the farmers rallied together to discuss strategies to overcome this natural challenge.
Some of them decided that rearing fishes would prove ideal for them. Since Bihar has a good number of entrepreneurs in fish rearing these farmers decided on doing the same.
Initially three farmers contacted the department of fisheries at Samastipur, which sent them to Andhra Pradesh to undergo training in fish farming.
After their return, fisheries extension officials visited their site. Two farmers were identified to act as local leaders for mobilizing others to start fish farming.
About 50 farmers were selected and out of them 37 came forward and organized themselves into a society registered as ‘Sonamar Chaur Matsya Vikash Samitee.’
“Once the farmers were organized, a detailed project report was prepared by the department of fisheries, namely, ‘Eco system approach of integrated wetland area management.’
“This project is designed on the concept of a cluster approach of a common interest group with individual ownership in order to avoid conflict among different stakeholders (farmers),” says Dr. Tun Tun Singh, Fisheries Extension officer, Office of Deputy Director Fisheries, Darbhanga, Bihar.
The project is based on integrated aquatic resource management so that the output of one sub system can be utilized as input for another to maximize profit.
The United Bank of India and Samastipur Kshetrya Garnin Bank, Samastipur, granted a loan of Rs.40 lakh initially for constructing tanks.
To further hone the skills about 18 fish farmers were sent to Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh and simultaneously a similar type of on farm training was also conducted at Samastipur.
The construction work of this project was over in 2010 but due to severe drought, farmers failed to culture fish in their ponds.
The Government also granted a loan of Rs. 48 lakhs to help the farmers install generators, electric motors, transformers and solar pumps.
“This project proves two things. One, the interest of the farmers and their grit and determination to go about it, and two the keen interest of the Government to support them,” says Dr. Singh.
“Especially in a big agricultural country like India, cluster or group approaches seem a viable option for farmers to succeed.
“Also as a group their voice, demands can be easily heard in the Government corridors. For a state like Bihar that is quite backward in terms of several facilities when compared to other states in the country fish farming has been able to achieve quite a good response and attention,” explains Dr. Singh.
Mere scientific discoveries far removed from the everyday life style of farmers can never hope to bear fruit. Scientific experts must work together with farmers for a country to attain security in food production.
Focus must be on farmers and not merely on scientists and their inventions, according to Dr. Singh.
For further details interested readers can contact Dr. Tun Tun Singh, Fisheries extension officer, office of Deputy Director Fisheries, Darbhanga, Bihar: 846001, email: ttsingh firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile:09431086114.