Rice is the major staple food crop of India which is being cultivated in about 41 million hectares.
However, its productivity is poor in India when compared to several other nations like South Korea, China etc.
The scenario is more alarming in Eastern India where farmers end up with very low productivity of rice.
At the same time, the ecological situation of rice fields in Eastern India facilitates the inclusion of fish component especially in saucer shaped lands, lowlands and waterlogged ecosystems.
There exists a huge potential for integrated rice-fish farming which can generate additional net returns to the farmers along with higher crop and water productivity.
Though there is a scope for implementing integrated rice-fish farming in about 23 million hectares, the existing area under this farming system is below 1 million hectares.
There is a need to analyse the reasons for low adoption of this technology and to formulate the management strategies. Integrated rice-fish farming results in mutual benefit to both rice and fish. Rice is benefited in the form of additional nutrients which come from fish excreta.
In addition, the aquatic weeds of rice also get reduced due to fish presence. In turn, fish gets benefit in the form of favourable micro climate due to presence of rice plants. However, rice requires a majority of nutrients in the form of inorganic fertilizers whereas fish needs nutrients in the form of organic form.
Hence, the optimum nutrient schedule of inorganic and organic components is required for obtaining maximum yield of rice and fish. Such fertilizer combinations also help in maintaining a healthy soil and aquatic environment.
Field experiments conducted at Central research farm of Directorate of Water Management (ICAR), Bhubaneswar revealed that the average rice equivalent yield in rice-fish farming system was estimated as 6.57 tonnes per hectare. It can be concluded y that the productivity and income could be augmented by introducing fish in rice field.
(P.S. Brahmanand, Directorate of Water Management (ICAR), Bhubaneswar, email: email@example.com, phone: 09776207101 and B.C. Ghosh, Professor, Department of Agriculture and Food Engineering, Kharagpur, West Bengal, phone: 09434300242.)