Small scale aquaculture – Boosting rural livelihoods

 Farmers in Orissa adopted small scale aquaculture by participating in the Aquaculture Field Schools. They also took up fish culture in community resources, enhancing fish production and fostering social cohesion.

Farmers were educated on fish farming through Aquaculture Field School

Aquaculture is one of the most important potential sectors of the national economy. Fish has been a staple food and its demand is increasing due to growing population and awareness on health benefits. Aquaculture is emerging as an important solution and the challenge is to make this growth more inclusive. Given the growing pressure on natural resources and the mounting threat posed by climate change, it is important to make it more sustainable. Aquaculture has the potential to generate income and create jobs, especially to the local youth. Being small and less risky, small-scale aquaculture can be adopted easily by resource-poor farmers.

 Sustainable livelihood approach

Fish  farming  in  rural  areas  mainly rely on natural productivity  of the  pond   and can  be enhanced by adding animal manure to the water, which increases carrying capacity of the pond. Such systems may not generate substantial financial returns to rural communities but  a  small increase  in  food  security and nutrition security,  particularly in terms of protein,  will  have  a  significant  effect on the  livelihoods of the  rural people.

Betnoti block in Orissa consists of 1654 water  tanks covering an area of 599 ha. This includes those owned by the Gram Panchayat and also by private individuals. Farmers in the region are adopting traditional to semi intensive type fish farming practices. As the block has a great potential  for  fish farming,  the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Mayurbhanj took up an initiative to promote pisciculture, adopting  Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA)

Sustainable livelihood approach (SLA) aims to reduce poverty and vulnerability in communities engaged in small scale aquaculture and fisheries.  Through SLA the  fish farmers are encouraged to enhance the pond carrying capacity, involve farm family, improve resource utilization, integrate different  components  in  the  fish farming and   optimally utilize  farm areas and farm wastes (Cow manure, vermicompost)  to enhance the  farm  income  for the  family livelihood and  better  sustainability.

With people at the centre of development,  women’s  groups and  fish farming groups with 15-20 members are formed. Small and seasonal ponds close to home are used.  Pond water is fertilized to enhance natural food (green water); kitchen wastes and on- farm by products are used as feed. Vegetables are grown on the dykes using fertile pond water.   

Aquaculture Field School

Aquaculture Field School (AFS) is a farmer to farmer extension method adopted by ICAR- CIFA to double the fish production and enhance farmers income. AFS is a school without walls for improving decision making capacity of fish farming community.  The AFS also serves as a learning centre for fish farmers who can upgrade their skills on brood stock management, nursery and feed management, disease diagnosis, feed formulation, integrated farming, soil and water analysis and technology on culture practices of more than 25 fish species, including fresh-water prawn.

The main objective was  to  educate  2000 farmers per  year  of Mayurbhanj district with support from Odisha Skill Development Authority (OSDA), through AFS. On 24th July, 2017 AFS was initiated at Kailash Fish Hatchery in Astapura under Betnoti block of district Mayurbhanj of Odisha in collaboration with ICAR-CIFA.

AFS was held for a period of one week. Participants  were  trained on specific skills like  happa breeding, breeding  through  portable  as  well Chinese circular  hatchery,  nursery  and  rearing  hatching  practices of Indian Major Carps (IMC) as  well as  minor and  exotic carps. The participants were also oriented on preparation of balanced pelleted feed, pre and post stocking management practices. Besides these, participants became well versed with the technical knowledge like identification of fish seedlings at Fry-Fingerling stage, feeding methods and preparation of feeding schedule, beneficial effects of organic and inorganic manure in fish farming and also the marketing strategies like time of harvest and time of sale. After  completion of the  programme, the farmers were trained  on  small  scale income  generating  activities  like  Fry-Fingerling production  in  seasonal  ponds and  seed production  programmes through  portable  carp  hatchery.

A permanent exhibition point for aquaculture technology was set up in the farm of Mr. Akshya Kumar Sahu, where any farmer can visit any day to learn about aquaculture technologies. The farmer maintains a link with ICAR-CIFA and Department of Fisheries, Govt of Odisha and Krishi Vigyan Kendra of the district on a continous basis. He serves as a facilitator for learning and fosters innovation among the farmers. The facilitator is also trained by the  KVK on different aspects like duck farming, mushroom cultivation, bee keeping and backyard poultry and off- season vegetable  production.

After the programme, there is a follow up action too. Mr. Akshya Kumar Sahu, the facilitator selects 5-7 participants from each batch of 25-30 participants and allows them to practice the technology in his farm, for a period of one month.

Around 800 participants have completed the training programme through AFS. Of them, four have started breeding through own portable FRP hatchery (Echo hatchery), 200-250 farmers are  adopting the fish farming practices in their own pond and also in the leased out community  pond and 70-80 farmers are adopting the fish seed rearing (Fry-Fingerling-Yearling) practices.

Community-based management

Community-based management approaches were tried to use common property resources for fishing purposes. With government support, fish farming is carried out in village community pond through the group approach. Like  field  school approaches, three women SHGs  in Badasahi block and  two women SHGs in Udala block and three men group participants were involved  in the  community fish farming approach.  The technical support was provided by KVK along with the government department for  carrying  out appropriate  pisciculture practices. By  adopting   community  approaches  the  groups are  able to  produce  fish  to  a tune of  08-12 q/acre  with a return of Rs 58000 per acre,  within  a  period  of 6-8 months. The benefits are generally shared based on the number of mandays contributed towards the activity.

Some factors were identified by the users as important for successful community resource management. These include, among many, small size of the group size which facilitates observation and monitoring of a collective agreement and social cohesion. Hence, through effective  rural community  based  approaches, there is a great potential to sustainably utilise seasonal wetlands, swamps, flooded forests and mangrove forests  in the region.


The adoption of sustainable livelihood approach (SLA) and AFS have been proved as a boon to enhance the livelihoods of fishing communities.   Of the fish harvested, around 40% is consumed by the household and 60% is sold in the market. This ensured both nutrition security and income security for the fish farming households. The initiative proved that appropriate methods coupled with appropriate technologies can draw rural women towards aquaculture practice in a sustainable way. Also management of community resources will go a long way in providing livelihoods and conserving natural resources. Rural aquaculture developed as an entrepreneurial activity, through co-management and community-based management approaches can be a financial viable option.

 Biswa Ranjan Samantaray, Satyajit  Kumar Bhuyan, Surendra  Kumar  Ghadei

Biswa Ranjan Samantaray

Scientist (Fishery Sc.), Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Mayurbhanj-1

Shayamakhunta, Mayurbhanj-757049, Odisha


Satyajit  Kumar Bhuyan

Associate  Professor

College  of  Fisheries, OUAT, Rangeilunda, Berhampur, Odisha

Surendra  Kumar  Ghadei

District  Fisheries  Officer , Mayurbhanj, Odisha-757049

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