A multi-commodity farming system consisting of rice, fish, broiler duck and male buffalo was evaluated at the Regional Agricultural Research Station, Kumarakom, under the Kerala Agricultural University for productivity, income, cropping intensity and generation of employment.
The study revealed that a one hectare paddy holder in kuttanad has the carrying capacity of a minimum of 5,000 fishes, 750 broiler ducks and 3-5 male buffaloes in addition to rice. In this system paddy is grown during June- October season.
Fish fingerlings are stocked simultaneously in nursery ponds dug near the rice fields. A species composition of grass carp, rohu and catla at 2:1:1 at10,000 fingerlings per ha is advisable. Broiler duckling varieties like vigoa at 125-150/ha are grown simultaneously in duck houses erected over the fish pond.
Ducklings are fed with formulated feed. Spilled over feed and excrements of duck fertilize the fish ponds. It increases the primary productivity and growth of algae and higher plants.
Fishes feed on them and some of them consume duck droppings directly. The ducklings are sold after 45-50 days when they attain 2.1 – 2.5 kg body weight. In a year 5-8 batches of broiler ducks can be reared. Duck excrements to the tune of 9-10 tons are recycled for manuring the fish ponds
Paddy harvest gets over in 120-125 days and the fields get inundated after rice harvest. The nursery ponds are broken open and the fishes are released into the expanded water body.
The leftover paddy straw on decomposition generates abundant food material in addition to the duck manure flowing down from the nursery pond.
The fish species composition of grass carp, rohu and catla are capable of feeding on aquatic weeds and straw. The field bottoms are tilled by fishes during foraging.
Fish harvest is done prior to the next paddy season. Rice fields require no land preparation and preliminary weeding if the plant stand establishment is done within one week after the fish harvest.
At the present market rates the over all income will be Rs. 5.4 to 6.8 lakhs per /ha.
(Dr. N.K.Sasidharan, Professor and Dr. A.V. Mathew is Associate Director, KAU, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Kumarakom, Mobile: 9349752445 email: firstname.lastname@example.org)