Implemented in Sonbhadra District, which is largely a hilly region where pisciculture seems a difficult prospect due to the vagaries of rainfall, this innovative intervention of fish farming through biofloc method is helping the villagers undertake pisciculture at the comfort of their homes. The results of this innovation have encouraged many people of this region to undertake similar activity as a means of livelihood.
People of Sonbhadra district are dependent on monsoon for their agricultural activities. Because of its hilly geography, there is a constant shortage of water for agricultural and other livelihood activities during the summer season when ponds and water bodies get dried up. This affects the livelihoods of the people. People of this region want to undertake fish farming as an alternate livelihood source; however, it is water scarcity that not only harms their fish-business but also holds them back in continuing with this activity for long.
In wake of this, the need of the hour was to have a high in productivity and sustainable fish farming technique which could help the fish farmers attain a wide range of objectives such as high outpur, low cost, sustainable growth, better income opportunities, less area, less maintenance etc. The SHG members in the area adopted the Biofloc fish farming technique for taking up pisciculture. This technique not only has lesser water requirement, it also takes smaller space for fish rearing. The fish can be produced in artificial tanks with high densities. Wasted feed as well as fish excreta in the water ecosystem, is converted into the feed which can be consumed by the fish. The combination of microorganism, fungi, algae etc. forms a biofloc which absorbs inorganic waste and enhances water quality. The problem of water pollution is solved in this manner. Moreover, the fish farmers can save money on feed and it is readily available as well.
The SHG members of Chatra block are using a water tank of 1300 sqft which can produce upto 2000 fish which can be taken to the market for sale within 7 months of starting the activity. The intervention is now being upscaled to other blocks of the district as well.
Women members are reaping the benefits of the new method and earning profits through the sale of fish in the market. Due to high demand of fish, they have to work harder to maintain the continuous supply chain. They are getting necessary support of their family members in doing so which also points at the social impact created through the intervention.
The funds for establishing the unit for biofloc fish farming have been managed through the loans from the CLF to VO. A loan amount of Rs. 2,00,000 was received from the CLF whereas the remaining amount of Rs. 1,50,000 was availed by the SHG as a CIF loan from the VO. The total cost for unit establishment is Rs. 3,50,000. There are 4 artificial water tanks in which 6000 fish are being produced. The produce can be sold over period of 7 months. One cycle provides an income of around Rs. 1,00,000-2,00,000 to the SHG. It takes 4-5 cycles for selling all produce, thus giving an income of Rs. 6,00,000- 7,00,000 to the SHG.
Until now, people in this area used to do fish farming in the ponds and natural bodies. The low water levels affected this activity and the fish farmers had to bear the loss/ low productivity leading to low income. But, with this system, the farmers have got the liberty to install fish farming units on their terrace or backyards. The SHG members are provided 3-day training on biofloc fish farming. The materials required for installation of tanks (trampoline, air pumps, air stone, protective line, temperature monitor, TDS meter etc.) are locally available. Commercially, it is helping farmers to sell fresh fish to the customers. The high-yield from biofloc fish farming is a viable option and proves to be beneficial when compared to open pond fish farming.