Fishery brings the Midas touch to Chitwan
JUL 10 -
Despite a handsome income as a migrant worker in Malaysia, Lok Raj Ruwali was always haunted by dissatisfaction. Unable to withstand the ill-treatment he suffered at the hands of his employers, Ruwali left Kuala Lumpur after three years for his village, able and willing to do anything.
Though clueless about what he could possibly do back home, the 29-year-old man had always believed that he could generate a good income with the same amount of hard work that he did in Malaysia. In just two years, he proved himself right. His two bighas of fish ponds gave him a profit of Rs 500,000 in maiden harvest and has put in another million hatchlings (fry) of six different species of fish. He is also making good money raising cows, pigs and ducks and hopes to raise poultry too. This year alone, he expects to earn a million rupees.
“More than money, it’s about self-satisfaction and the pleasure of doing one’s own business. There is true joy in working amid friends and family,” says Ruwali. Ruwali was convinced that fishery would be the best profession for him after a field trip to India and several trainings on raising fish. “When I saw Ambika Prasad Adhikari’s fish pond in Ratnanagar, I decided fishery would be a great profession.” Like Ruwali, around 35 people from Chitwan’s Bhandara VDC have started commercial fishery. Many of them are Ruwali’s peers. The fish farmers have formed a group called Progressive Fish Farmers’ Association to enhance and support fishery in the area. Fish farming has taken on a life of its own as many young persons have taken up this profession. Like Ruwali, some of the farmers are returnee migrant workers. Shanker Prasad Dahal, senior Fishery Development Officer at the Fishery Development Centre (FDC) Bhandara, says many young, educated people have started fisheries.
The first national gathering of National Fishery Farmers’ Association was held on July 4 in Chitwan and was attended by many returnee workers from Japan, Russia, the Gulf and the Middle East, according to Dahal.
The FDC produces fry and sells them to farmers from Chitwan and neighbouring districts at a low price. It also provides free training, technical counselling and field-based supervision in nearby areas. Many young people visit Dahal daily for fish counselling. “We help farmers find a proper location, estimate costs and provide low interest loans to start fishery. We do not charge them for any service we provide.” The relative ease of access to water, technical and material assistance from the District Agriculture Office (DAO) and the presence of the government’s fishery centre has all worked together to create a bustling new industry in Bhandara. The Lothar Rapti Dyake Protection Committee (LRDPC), which improvised irrigation facilities in the area by constructing canals and water passages, greatly boosted agricultural activities and fisheries.
LRDPC Chairman Jagrit Prasad Bhetwal says the construction of a dam in the Rapti river had not only saved the area from floods but attracted many people to fish farming and cash crops. Senior Agriculture Officer of the DAO Chitwan, Hira Lal Bhusal, also says Chitwan has a huge potential for fishery.
“Fishery demands little manpower, is highly profitable and the market is huge. In places with easy access to water, fish farming is the best alternative to cash crops,” says Bhusal. Most of the areas in eastern and western Chitwan are appropriate for fish farming. Additionally, in Chitwan’s Tikauli and Badagaun, farmers are even running a hotel alongside their fish ponds. Their success has revealed the potential of eco-tourism in the area.
Farmers earn as much as Rs 150 from a kilogram of fish in the local market. DAO records show that there are around 350 professional fish farmers in Chitwan with around 800 ponds. The areas for fish farming have grown from 152 hectares in the last year to 175 hectare this year. The district harvests around six tons of fish per hectare of land and most of it is consumed within the district itself.
Posted on: 2012-07-10 08:15