6.1. Projects on Freshwater Aquaculture Research and Development
6.2 Freshwater Aquaculture Development Projects
6.3 Brackishwater Aquaculture R&D and Development Projects
As indicated in para 2.1. the Indian Government directed its efforts through many agencies to support aquaculture development in general and rural aquaculture development in particular. The ICAR institutions played a major role in R&D, since the beneficiaries were especially small and marginal farmers and land less labourers. Since 1971, the technology of Composite Fish Culture has been extended to various states of India through the All India Co-ordinated Research Project. The technology was also demonstrated though an IDRC/ICAR Project in two villages in West Bengal and Orissa. Many R&D Projects were started which were highly instrumental in supporting and developing rural aquaculture. However, some of the major projects are indicated below.
· FAO/UNDP/ICAR Project on Intensification of Fish Culture and Training at FARTC
The facilities and expertise were strengthened at the Center with the assistance through this project in terms of equipment, consultants and fellowships in relevant disciplines. The Project was started in 1979 and continued for a period of about five years. The project provided a strong support which result in the evolution of the Center into a full-fledged institution known as CIFA (Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, in Bhubaneswar, Orissa).
· FAO/UNDP/ICAR Project on Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia (NACA) at the FARTC
Another regional project was started at the FARTC to further strengthen it to serve as a Lead Center for Carp Farming in Undrainable Ponds under NACA. Another Center of NACA was on Integrated Farming at Wuxi in China and the third on Brackishwater Farming at SEAFDEC in the Philippines and the fourth one on Catfish Culture and Macrobrachium Farming at the National Inland Fisheries Institute, Thailand. The research programs of all these centers were formulated to serve the national as well as the regional needs. Training courses were arranged for technician and senior aquaculturists to adopt, initiate and expand such technologies in their respective countries. NACA in the present form as an Inter-governmental Organization is deeply engaged in aquaculture development in the region. Activities of NACA through CIFA have lasting contributions to the development of appropriate technologies for the development of rural aquaculture in India.
· FAO/UNDP/ICAR/OUAT Project on Establishment of a Center for Advanced Study on Freshwater Aquaculture at FARTC and Fisheries College, OUAT
Since 1986 the FARTC/CIFA has been engaged in HRD in Freshwater Aquaculture for M.Sc and Ph.D degrees.
During the past three decades, almost all the states of India embarked on various development projects. However, the most significant ones are mentioned below.
· Programme on Fish Farmers Development Agency
One of the most important and effective national programme for the promotion of rural aquaculture development was the Fish Farmers Development Agencies (FFDAs), which was started in 1973-74 and is still going strong. During its 25 years of operational life, the programme has established 414 FFDAs and trained 537,956 fish farmers. The programme has achieved an average production of 2,183 kg/ha/yr.
The FFDAs provide a package of technical, financial and extension support services to fish farmers. The agency arranges suitable area on long-term lease, identify beneficiaries, provides incentives in the form of subsidies/grants for pons construction/rehabilitation and input supplies.
· Inland Fisheries Project with World Bank Assistant (1980)
Aquaculture in India was facing the same problem as agriculture faced few decades back about High Yield Variety (HYV) seed. The quality seed of fast growing carp was essential to develop fish culture in ponds, tanks and reservoirs. Therefore, Govt. of India initiated an Inland Fisheries Project in 1980 for developing fish farming in 117,000 hectares of water areas in 58 districts in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The project was meant for carp seed production under controlled conditions in the hatchery with the help of induced breeding technique, along with providing farmers with proper extension support, technical assistance and credit for pond improvement and inputs.
The program was implemented by the joint participation of respective State Governments State Fish Seed Development Corporation and Government of India. National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development provided credit for pond improvement and inputs as well as for setting up of fish seed hatcheries.
The project had the following main components:
Establishment of commercial carp seed hatcheries
The fish seed hatcheries in selected areas in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh were set up. Selection of the sites normally involved proper soil and water conditions for fish growth, assured water supply of good quality, convenient accessibility to the market and also good potentiality for fish culture activities in those areas.
State Fish Seed Development Corporation at the state level supervised and administered construction of the hatchery, nursery and rearing ponds along with brood stock ponds. It also administered the linkage of the project with the Fish Farmers Development Agency.
Establishment of fish farmers development agencies under the project
A total of 97 FFDAs was established in the project area by 1985 and they developed a total area of 159,693 hectares. However, by that time a total of 200 FFDAs was already got established in all over India developing 192,439 hectares. The rate of average fish production achieved in the project area was @ 1,728 kg/ha/yr as against 1,560kg/ha/yr. in the country.
Establishment of extension training centre
The centers were established to cater the demand of the project area. In eight years, 1170 extension workers and 117 extension officers were trained under the project.
· FAO/WFP Project for Rural Development in Mahendragarh, Haryana, India
The project was initiated in 1984 to supplement the state efforts for rural development in the district of Mahendragarh. Although the project had a small component of rural aquaculture, it had a crucial role to play not only for fish production but also for supplying water for the cattle, particularly for water buffaloes.
The WFP assistance criteria for selection was on the basis of the project being labor intensive and creating employment opportunity besides assisting agricultural diversification and increased productivity and also strengthening the infrastructure for sustained rural development.
The fish culture component involved rehabilitation of rural ponds, establishment of infrastructure for fish seed production, establishment of Fish Culture Demonstration Centre and institutional support for technical matters pertaining to pond construction, fish culture and seed production ctc.
Since rural aquaculture had no tradition in the states the ponds were used primarily for cattle washing. In fact, over the years cattle population has increased many folds, but ponds were not dug in that proportion and whatsoever were existing were full of silt and organic matters reducing alarmingly the volume of the pond and the water. In fact all the perennial village ponds were highly eutrophic and invariably had Microcystis bloom creating adverse effect on water quality.
All the ponds needed extensive renovation in terms of enlarging of the total area, deepening, desilting, turfing of the embankment and then proper aquatic productivity management through fish culture to keep the water in good condition and prevent Microcystis bloom.
The project was very effective to bring rural prosperity. It is highly essential to have an in depth socio-economic study to assess the role of aquaculture on the overall performance of the project and its real contribution in relative term in rural development. This becomes most relevant and important particularly now when Haryana State has emerged as one of the most progressive states of India in fresh water aquaculture.