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A village transforms a rain-fed pond into a fish farm to earn higher incomes

NEWS

By GV News Desk

20 September 2021

Kusumitara is a small village of 49 households in Khandapara block of Nayagarh district. Majority of the residents are small and marginal landholders. Farming is their primary livelihood. The farm lands lie along the banks of the Kusumi river, which floods every year during the monsoon. But the river leaves behind sediments increasing the soil productivity and benefitting the farmers of this village growing paddy, black gram and vegetables.

In 2019, the village residents started community-owned fisheries by making use of the village pond with support from Gram Vikas through the Holistic Rural Development Project (HRDP) of HDFC Parivartan. Today, farmers harvest approximately 125 kg of fish annually, boosting household income and contributions to the village fund.

Work under HRDP first started in Nayagarh in 2017, and now covers 17 villages spread over four blocks of the district in Odisha. In most of these villages, community-owned ponds remain underutilised. Fish farming has been considered a sustainable income generator.

Gram Vikas collaborated with the Nayagarh District Fisheries Department, in August 2019 to bring the benefits of community-fisheries to the villages in the district. They mobilised the support of residents and village committees belonging to Kusumitara, Biridihi, Mankapalli, and Bhatasahi villages for the Community Fisheries Programme under HRDP by effectively using the village ponds.

Gram Vikas organised a workshop attended by ten selected committee members from these villages. They later travelled to Natugaon village in the district for an exposure trip. The members were trained in preparation of ponds, selection of fingerlings, nutrition management, learning abnormalities in fish behaviour, disease control, and mortality of the fish. Until now, 13 village committee members have received the training.

“The scientific method of fish farming has been beneficial. After a 5-6 month growth period, we harvested 130 kgs of fish, slightly higher in production than last year. We earned ₹16,250. We will continue to follow the same scientific method this year too.”, says Kishore Chandra Pradhan, Secretary of the Kusumitara Village Committee.

Ganeshwar Pradhan, a member in the Village Development Committee agrees that the income through fish farming has helped them to pay the annual cost sharing amount towards the Village Corpus Fund on behalf of  vulnerable and poor families who could not contribute due to loss of livelihood during the pandemic year.

‘During the lockdown, three vulnerable families in our village could not contribute ₹1000 towards annual maintenance towards operation and maintenance of the piped water supply system in the village. We took out money from the fish we sold this year and made a contribution to the corpus fund on their behalf. We have spent the rest of the money on buying fingerlings for fish harvest for the coming season.” A part of the fish harvested each time is sold to the residents at a very nominal rate.

Till now, 11 villages Kusumitara, Biridihi, Mankapalli, Subalaya, Raghunath Prasad, Ikri, Bhadikila, Bhatasahi, Udayapur, Padmadeipur, and Bhutadihi in Nayagarh district have been a part of this initiative.

Read more about the project here: https://bit.ly/3oajxQU

Reporting and Photographs by Prashant Kumar Naik

The community men in Biridihi village catching fish from the farming pond.

Photograph by Prashant Kumar Naik

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