Tata-Dhan Academy: PDM

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Programme in Development Management

Fish Farming Livelihood Opportunities

By Amarendra Kumar

There is saying that “practice makes a man perfect.” I realized the truth in this when I got a chance to observe and understand fish farming. The person we met with runs a very successful fish farm despite not having any background in fisheries.

His name is V. H. Ahmad Mohideen. He studied economics in Madurai, and then received a diploma in marketing from Mumbai, and took his first job as an executive manager in Saudi Arabia. He has now returned to his home because of the peaceful environment here.

When we first met him, he brought us to a small pond and started to share his story; one of his workers also came to show us how they catch fish. At that time, my curiosity was very high to see and try to catch the fish in hand, but I didn’t have the opportunity because our discussion took us to a medium sized pond with a depth of about 13 feet. We also saw some small man-made ponds (constructed out of plaster and brick, approximately 8 feet by 12 feet, and 3 feet deep.

We saw seed of grass carp and common carp. At that time, we asked if we can catch some fish or not. Mr. Mohideen replied that if we thought we are able to catch the fish, then catch them. I tried for some time, but was not able to catch any. After this, Mr. Mohideen described the feeding pattern: twice a day, before 10 AM and after 4 PM; it is not advisable to feed the fish in the afternoon because if they come to the surface at that time, they can get skin diseases. He then fed the fish oil cake; when he threw the oil cake in the water, the water color changed, but after a minute or two, it was back to its original condition.

After my failed attempt to catch fish and after watching the fish being fed, we moved on to the ornamental fish. Mr. Mohideen had six small pond-like structures, each measuring about 7 feet by 3 feet. In these ponds, he had ornamental fish like angel fish and goldfish. He also had three very small pond-like structures, each measuring about 2 feet by 3 feet, which we learned was used for breeding; for this, two male and one female fish were kept in these ponds during the breeding season.

We then moved on to another small pond where ornamental fish like batsu and koi were kept, and to a large deep pond where bigger fish varieties were kept. The water appeared dirty, but Mr. Mohideen mentioned this was due to the depth of the pond. He mentioned that this large pond was used to supply water to the other smaller ponds.

After our tour of the ponds, Mr. Mohideen described his entry into fish farming. He started doing this business 9 years ago, mostly to ensure his peace of mind. In the initial phase of operations, he was quite unsuccessful, particularly because he did not have knowledge of fish farming; now, however, he has seven large tanks on lease for farming, and even supplies seed to the local government. Most of his knowledge was gained in an on-the-job manner. At first, he lost many fish, inspiring him to visit others to learn how to solve his problems. Now, he can solve his problems on his own because he has been able to learn a lot about the fish farming process. However, he still does not know the technical terms related to his field of work.

Mr. Mohideen is happy with his job, in part because it is quite profitable. For instance, you can purchase 1,000 seed of fish for farming at the rate of Rs 1 each, a 10% survival rate (worst case scenario). Rear these fish in ponds where they are able to feed on natural foods, and after six months, each fish will grow to a weight of at least 1 kilogram. The market rate for 1 kilogram of fish is Rs 50, so with a minimum of 100 fish surviving, you can earn Rs 5,000. This is a very good return on investment for Rs 1,000. The normal survival rate is closer to 60-70% most of the fish are closer to 2 kilograms in weight.

As you can see, fish farming has the potential to be quite profitable; Mr. Mohideen describes himself as middle class.

After I left, I realized how profitable fish farming could be. In fact, even though Mr. Mohideen started with no experience, he is now able to run a business in which he also provides employment to more than 20 people. Through this field visit, not only were we able to understand fish farming; we were also able to understand how to look at different livelihood opportunities for the poor.

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Filed under: General TDA, PDM 11, , ,

2 Responses

  1. Yogesh Bhatt says:

    It was a great experience, thanks Amrendra for this wonderful sharing. This was a livelihood cum entrepreneurship class. A person who lives his passion and dedicated himself, can achieve anything with hard work, it was the core message I got from this field visit. Sandeep was also excited and motivated after visiting that pond. Hope in future we will visit in Sandep’s farm also.

  2. Shanti Gupta says:

    This livelihood visit was worthwhile and I have found some information on NABARD which will be good for the people who are interested in fish farming.

    link- http://www.nabard.org/modelbankprojects/fisheries.asp

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