Indian rural aquaculture

Aquaculture contributes to poverty alleviation as it provides employment to millions of people, both in the sector itself as well as in support services. Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production such as regular stocking, feeding and protection from predators etc.  Rural aquaculture as a weapon to fight poverty and reduce inequality has received renewed attention in recent years. It depends largely on natural food,which is increased over baseline levels by fertilization and/or use of supplementary feed to complement natural food. Supplementary feed with traditional fish feed material such as groundnut cake, mustard oil cake and rice bran in dough form would enhance fish yield substantially.

Rural Aquaculture

Rural aquaculture pertains to the farming of aquatic organisms by small-scale farming house hold or communities, usually by extensive or semi-intensive low-cost production technology appropriate to their resource base.  In rural aquaculture there is low level of fish production for household use and family income (Choudhury,1997). It’s production and income potential has largely remained undocumented. The  resource-poor base of most farms requires off-farm agro industries inputs to intensify production. This implies use of mainly inorganic fertilizers rather than formulated feed to provide low market value produce affordable to poor consumers.   Aquaculture growth can be accelerated in 2 ways – by increasing the area devoted to aquaculture and by intensifying production in existing aquaculture areas. Horizontal expansion of agricultural land is limited. In contrast there is considerable potential to increase area under aquaculture. Vast areas remain to be utilized for aquaculture. Aquaculture may use swamps, saline soils, mangroves that are otherwise, unsuitable for agriculture. It may also use inland aquatic resources such as natural and man made lakes, reservoirs, rivers etc. (Choudhury, 1997).

Researchersin India and elsewhere have demonstrated the impact of rural aquaculture on thelives of poor. In terms of providing nutritious food (fish being the cheapestanimal protein) and creating employment opportunities aquaculture interventionshave proved to be quite useful. It is important that untapped water resourceslying in rural areas are brought under scientific fish farming. Promotion of ruralaquaculture is often plagued by several hindrances, important among these are -non-availability of seed, lack of skill, multiple use of waterbodies, marketingrelated problem etc. It is essential that farmers are provided with easy accessto inputs, skill training and marketing arrangement. This would enable thefarmers to make use of the water resources towards ensuring their nutritionalas well as livelihood security.

 CIFA’sinvolvement in promoting rural aquaculture

The Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar a constituent ofIndian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has been actively engaged in promoting scientific aquaculture in thecountry since its inception. The CIFA erstwhile Freshwater Aquaculture Researchand Training Centre as an unit of Barrackpore based Central Inland FisheriesResearch Institute was devoted to imparting training in various aspects of freshwater aquaculture. Besidesconducting refresher courses for state line department officials the Institute impartedneed based skill training to farmers and entrepreneurs. The Institute hasconducted 406 training programmes till 2006-07 and a total of 7359 persons arebenefited. The Institute also operated several funded projects in differentparts of the country towards dissemination of aquaculture technologies. Aglimpse of recently operated projects is presented below-

  • Women in Fisheries in Orissa, sponsored by UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women). The project was launched in 1992 and 300 tribal women from three backward districts of Orissa were benefited.
  • The Institute Village Linkage Project through Technology Assessment and Refinement was operated during 1997-2001 in eleven villages around CIFA. Technologies of carp breeding, seed rearing and table size fish production were successfully transferred among the farmers.
  • The Institute was also involved in the project “Management of Coastal Agroecosystem affected by Supercyclone’’ towards rehabilitation of cyclone (1999) affected people in Ersama and Astarang blocks of Orissa. Pond renovation, desilting, stocking of quality fish seed and other measures were adopted as a means of strengthening livelihood of farmers.
  • Jai Vigyan National Science and Technology Mission. The project was operated during 2000-04 for enhancing freshwater fish production towards ensuring household food and nutrition security in Kalahandi and Bastar.
  • The project ‘Economic and livelihood development of SC/ST population through freshwater aquaculture technologies was operated during 2006-09. Carp seed production, carp culture and integrated fish farming were promoted in two tribal dominated districts in Odisha viz., Keonjhar and Kendrapara.
  • An NAIP sponsored project ‘Sustainable livelihood improvement through integrated freshwater aquaculture, horticulture and livestock development in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sambalpur districts of Odisha’ operated during 2009-12. An Integrated development approach was adopted involving freshwater aquaculture, poultry and horticulture. Four thousand farm families in 3 districts in Odisha are benefited through this project.
  • The project ‘Carp seed production in mobile hatchery and rearing for livelihood development for SC/ST communities in selected districts of Odisha’ sponsored by DBT was operated in two backward districts viz., Mayurbhanj and Nayagarh during 2009-12.
  • The project ‘Transfer of technology of composite carp culture through demonstration among SC/ST women in Boudh and Purulia’ sponsored by DST was operated during 2009-12. Over 200 tribal women in two districts are benefited through this project.

Besides the Instituteis engaged in development of freshwater aquaculture in North East region of the country. The Institute through its four regional research centres located at Rahara    (West Bengal) ; Vijaywada (Andhra Pradesh ) ; Bangalore ( Karnataka) and Anand ( Gujarat) is popularizing aquaculture technologies across India.