KOCHI:The novel fish farming method introduced by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), in selected ‘pokkali’ fields in the district has generated nearly double the profit than the conventional method did.
“In the unique method called ‘third component fish farming,’ fish alone can generate profit of Rs 80,000 per hectare, much higher than the Rs 50,000/hectre profit generated through paddy-shrimp farming,” stated an official statement issued by the KVK.
The conventional pokkali farming, a naturally organic farming system in the coastal areas of Ernakulam district, involves growing of paddy and shrimp alternately in the same field. However, most of the pokkali fields that produced lots of organic paddy and shrimp in the past are left barren now. A survey by the KVK (Ernakulam) among pokkali farmers in 2011 found that ensuring more income per unit area from Pokkali fields is the only way to attract farmers back to pokkali cultivation and to bring back the glory of the traditional farming system.
“Pokkali farming, which was sustained mainly on the income from shrimp, turned into a loss-making venture due to widespread attack of white spot symptom (WSS) on Shrimps. Labour shortage, high wages, lack of proper machinery and lack of branding of pokkali products aggravated the crisis,” said KVK senior scientist and project coordinator Shinoj Subramaniam.
The demonstrations were conducted as part of the National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) project, a national programme by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The project has its component functioning at the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi. Demonstrations were conducted under the technical guidance of CMFRI director Dr A Gopalakrishnan and NICRA project principal scientist and principal investigator Dr P U Zakkariah.
Pearlspot, mullet and sea bass are the fish species suitable for pokkali farming. While pearlspot and mullet can be grown in the open field, sea bass being carnivorous requires confined farming in cages. Cages can be positioned in field channels and sluice pits. Fish farming can be started after the ‘nirathal’ process, or, adjusting spacing between the one-month-old paddy seedlings.
Following the success of the three-component integrated farming, the Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA), under the State Government, has initiated a scheme titled ‘Integrated Fish Farming in Pokkali Fields’. Under the scheme, the agency will support fish farming both in open pokkali fields and in cages set up in pokkali fields.
This year, farmers having a total of 100 heaters of open fields and 50 cage units, each comprising two cages, will receive a financial assistance of Rs 8,000 per cage unit and Rs 20,000 per field from the agency. Individual farmers or Padasekhara Samithis can apply to the Chief Executive Officer, Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA), Ernakulam North PO.
Those who are interested to know more about the project can contact subject matter specialist Dr P A Vikas on 0484-2392660, or the KVK on 0484-2492450. The last date for receiving applications is July 25.