DHAN Foundation has taken up fish rearing activity in rural villages through community under Tele food special fund approved by FAO of UN. This project was proposed mainly to provide nutritional food for rural villages in a sustainable way. Community organizations are formed as Tank users groups called VAYALAGAMs and Micro finance groups (Small and Marginal farmers and Landless Agricultural laborers) have shown more interest in this activity and also actively participated in this project. This project was implemented in three districts namely, Madurai, Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram. Totally 20 Vayalagams and Micro finance groups in these villages jointly take participate and involved in this project with their participation. The fish rearing activity was taken up in 20 Vayalagam locations benefiting 4,000 families.
Composite Fish culture technique (Poly culture of fishes) is adopted in all the 20 water bodies taken up under this project. Composite fish culture means rearing of various species, having different food habits and habitats in a single water body to avoid inter-specific and intra-specific competition for food. The suitable species are Catla, Rohu, Mrigal (Indian major carps), Grass carp, Silver carp and Common carp (Exotic carps).
Selection and Orientation on Fish rearing under FAO project
Totally twenty associations have shown keen interest in this activity accepting the preconditions of this project. After discussing with the associations and the field visit to the water bodies, these associations are selected. The block level federations have taken responsibility to implement this project effectively. These twenty associations have taken up this activity in 26 water bodies as details below:
Orientation on this project
As said earlier, twenty tank users associations are involved in this activity. One orientation on this project is given to DHAN staffs working in the concerned districts.
The main objective of this meeting is to provide clarity on the expected out come and sustainability of this project. After selection of water bodies, orientation on fish rearing activity to 20 association leaders was given in December 2007 in each district wise. Totally 40 association leaders attended this orientation meeting. In this meeting, their contribution in this project was clearly explained and the revenue sharing was also discussed. In revenue sharing, the profit is planned to be shared between tank association and people federation in percentage of 70:30.
Ensuring Community contribution – Manuring, Harvest, watch and ward
Community contribution is a non negotiable policy of Tank fed agricultural development programme of DHAN Foundation. Naturally community contribution is also happened in this project. As per the project work plan, community was involved in preparation of water bodies like repairing the surplus weir, repairing the sluices; removal of bushes in the water spread area etc was carried out wherever possible. In some water bodies, these repairing works are not taken up due to standing water.
In most of the blocks, water bodies got filled up with water in November end due to delayed monsoon. The main input for this activity is manuring with organic matters. The importance of manuring was seriously taught to associations. With the understanding importance of manuring, community applied cow dung in all water bodies to enhance the natural food productivity in water resources. Two tones per hectare of cow dung applied by community before stocking of fish seeds. This application continued in periodical interval during the course of rearing to maintain the natural food.
Apart from that, watch and ward system was introduced by many of the association especially during the night time. This system was introduced only after the third month of rearing period. In some areas, association members themselves had taken care of their water bodies. The water bodies especially ooranies which are situated in the centre of the village didn’t appoint any watch and ward.
Community participated Fish seed stocking
Due to delayed monsoon, the stocking of fish seeds also got delayed. Stocking of fish seeds was taken up in two phases. Further delay also happened in stocking due to non availability of desired species of fishes. In purchasing of fish seeds, community actively participated in selection of fish seeds like size of fish seed, size variation, numbers per packing and also the proper packing with required oxygen. Totally 1, 60, 000 numbers of fish seeds with the average size of three inches except common carp were stocked and the species are Catla, Rohu, Mrigal, Silver carp and common carp and the ratio of species stocked are 20%, 20%, 15%, 10 % and 35 %.
Mostly stocking of fish seeds are taken place for 23 water bodies in the third and fourth week of January and in three water bodies, the first week of February 2008. But it is unfortunate that, all the rain fed water bodies receive water during north east monsoon which starts in October and ends in January. For the last two years, due to global climate change, the rainy season has also changed, monsoon starts in October end and short fall of rain also happened. In 2007 – 08, even though the monsoon is delayed with short fall of rain, fortunately unexpected rainfall occurred during March 2008, June 2008, September and October 2008.
Most of the water bodies are refilled again due to periodical rainfall with gaps. In some places, monsoon failed and the tanks also dried up quickly. Community themselves stocked the fingerlings in the water bodies. In some blocks, stocking was delayed due to some inevitable reasons. Delay may cause more stocking mortality rate, as the temperature will go down as well as the improper acclimatization of fish seeds during stocking.
The supplementary feed like G’nut oil cake (GOC) and rice bran ( RB) are planned in all water bodies and FAO has accepted to support for supplementary feeding. The ratio of feed GOC/ RB is 1:2. Totally 15 tones of supplementary feed was supplied by FAO under TFSF to all associations. For one unit, 8000 fish seeds, 250 kgs of GOC and 500 Kgs of RB are supplied. Unfortunately, this process was delayed and the supply of feed to associations taken place by the end of May 2008 only.
Cost – Benefit analysis of harvested Water bodies.
Totally 14 water bodies are fully harvested within the project period. In these 14 water bodies, 10 water bodies are successfully harvested mostly by partial harvest technique and also by other methods like Ottha, hook and line etc. Four water bodies are not at all harvested because of quick drying of water bodies and community harvested the fishes exclusively for consumption purpose. Sustainability of this activity becomes a question mark in these villages. We have negotiated with community to generate seed money for this activity for the next season from the village community.