A Kerala Village Is Making It Big Through Aquaponics

Thalavoor village in Kollam district shows the way by leasing derelict ponds from panchayat for fish farming.
While several water bodies in the rural parts of the State remain in a state of neglect, farmers from Thalavoor in Kollam district have scripted a success story in aquaculture by leasing derelict ponds from the panchayat.

Though the Fisheries Department has several programmes to promote inland fish farming, most farmers opt for units of aquaponics and biofloc or setting up polythene-lined ponds in homestead.

“Transforming cultivable water bodies into fish farms is less expensive compared to other alternatives. While it ensures livelihood to many, the panchayat too will profit from the initiative,” says Abhayanandan, who has leased two ponds from the panchayat with co-farmers Sivanandan and Unnikrishna Pillai.

While the larger pond with an area of half an acre has been retained as a natural pond, the smaller one has been used for cage farming. Carp, Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), catla, pangasius and rohu were farmed in the two ponds with the support of Fisheries Department.

“When we first approached the authorities, they were a little apprehensive due to the legal hassles involved. But later, we had the complete support of the panchayat and the Fisheries Department. The first phase of the harvest was conducted in July first week and it provided a surprisingly good yield,” says Abhayanandan, who owns the biggest paddy farm in the panchayat.

He says converting land into ponds, however, is not a wise idea. “Once you dig a pond, the soil quality changes and it will not be easy to cultivate other crops after you level the land. Instead, we can try this model across Kerala without losing any cultivable land,” he adds.

Like any regular village in the State, Thalavoor too has its share of chiras, quarry ponds and larger water bodies, but disuse had turned them into weed-covered patches. The panchayat authorities seem upbeat about the outcome of their experiment and now have plans to extend it.

“Agriculture is the main livelihood of the villagers and it’s for the first time that we are trying fish farming in abandoned ponds. Along with supporting the farmers, we are able to protect the water bodies that badly need rejuvenation. We will be offering all possible support to residents who want to start fish farming in derelict water bodies,” says panchayat president V.S. Kaladevi.

Source: thehindu

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