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B.K. Sharma,
Chief Training Organizer,
Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR),


Research in agriculture or aquaculture is an input to increase and stabilize production. With this guiding principle, Indian Scientists during the last three decades have made sustained research efforts which resulted in the development of modern high yielding production technologies. These technologies have revolutionised the farm production in the country. The results of the research to be relevant for general adoption are tested for their feasibility and economic viability on the farmers field in the target area, before they converge into a modern technology, which is a combination of several practices consisting of a 'Package'. The 'package' is then transferred to the farmers or and users of the research results through various transfer of technology agencies.

An important pre-condition to a sound economy is a balanced growth of research and extension systems. In fact, the two systems are complimentary and supplementary to each other and must go hand in hand. This was not fully realised. As a result of this an imbalance in the technology development and its application created a wide gap between what could be achieved and what is being achieved on the farms. A big gap exists between the available technologies and their rapid transfer to the farmer. It is estimated that only 20– 25% of the modern technologies developed are used under actual field conditions in India.

The Govt. and other developmental agencies are greatly concerned about it. The country has been seriously attempting to narrow or bridge this gap between the tiller of the soil and the expert who possess the technical 'Know how'. We have launched various extension programmes for rural change, based on the technical 'Know how' released by the research organisations from time to time. Today in India, we have a gigantic extension machinery which is extensively and intensively busy in transfer of available technologies. The major responsibility for transfer of technology in India lies with the Union Ministry of Agriculture and the Extension Departments of the various State Govts. Besides these, there are certain voluntary organisations who are rendering yeoman service in transfer of technology.


We have adopted several approaches in the past such as “Extensive Extension” through Community Development Programme (C.D.P.), “Intensive Extension” through Intensive Agriculture District Programme (IADP), Intensive Agricultural Area Programme (IAAP) and High Yielding Variety Programme (HYVP). This was followed by “Egaletarian Distribution” through Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP), S mall Farmer Development Programme (SFDP), Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers Development Programme (MFAL), Tribal Area Development Programme (TADP), Hill Area Development Programme (HADP) and Command Area Development Programme (CADP). Besides these a few other extension programmes were added recently such as Training of Rural Youth in Self Employment (TRYSEM), Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDF) and Economic Rehabilitation of Rural Poor (ERRP). The latest of the series being the single purpose extension programme popularly known as Training and visit system (TV). This was actually added in mid seventies by one Mr. Daniel Benor, a World Bank consultant who worked in the Chambal Command Area. In this system the earlier concept of the village level worker as a multipurpose worker has been changed to a single purpose agricultural extension worker, solely responsible for transfer of technology (TOT), under the command of the Director of Agriculture with District level subject matter specialists to supervise and guide the V.L.Ws.

The experience gathered so far reveal that inspite of various approaches and programmes adopted, the technologies have not yet been transferred to the majority of the users. It may be due to several reasons. One of the reasons is the lack of basic understanding of the principles involved in the transfer of technology (TOT) on the part of Scientists, Extension workers and the change agents, as well as the lack of integrated approach by scientists and extension workers and users of technology.

The transfer of technology (TOT) basically depends upon three systems i.e. the Knowledge Generating System (KGS), the Knowledge Dessiminating System (KDS) and Knowledge Consuming System (KCS). The members of the KGS are Research Institutes, the members of KDS consists of extension personnel and other transfer of technology agencies. Besides this the KDS also includes the Input Supply Agencies (ISA) such as Lead Banks, Fertiliser Corporations and Seed Suppliers'. The main function of KDS is to transfer the technology to KCS and collect feed back and pass it on to KGS. The KCS consists of farmers and actual users of technology. The most effective transfer of technology is possible when all the three systems i.e. KGS, KDS & KCS work in close co-operation. There should be an effective interaction and desired relationship between all the three systems.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research though basically a KGS has also taken up the task of transfer of technology by launching various schemes in collaboration with State Govts. (KDS) and agriculture Universities and voluntary agencies. The various transfer of technology programmes launched by ICAR, are, All India Coordinated Research Projects, National Demonstration Programme, Operational Research Projects and Krishi Vigyan Kendra Trainers' Training Centres and Lab-to-Land Programme. The scientists of the ICAR are actively engaged in these transfer of technology programmes. This will develop the desired linkage between the KGS (ICAR & Agricultural University KDS (State Govt., Voluntary and other Extension Agencies) and the KCS (the farmers and users of the technology). This is a step in the right direction and will narrow the gap between the research and the extension systems.


During the last two decades, the sustained research efforts of the scientists of the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute have resulted in standardising of a system of synergic aquaculture, properly known as composite fish culture. This infact, is mixed culture or polyculture of a group of compatatible, mutually complementary and supplementary freshwater species of fast growing food fish, jointly in pond over a period of time. Under this system of culture, most of available ecological niches of the pond ecosystem are effectively exploited by culturing compatible fish species of different feeding habits. The technology make use of Indian and Chinese carps such as catla (Catla catla), Rohu (Labeo rohita), Mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), Grass carp (Otenopharyngodon idella) and Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), which graze from different zones of the pond. The Catla and silver carp are both surface feeders, but catla is zooplanktophagous, where as silver carp is predominantly phytoplanktophagous. The Rohu is column feeder and both mrigal and common carp are bottom feeders. Common carp is, as a matter of fact omnivorous and is also called a 'scavanger fish'. The grass carp feed on macrovegetation. The addition of grass carp in this synergic system not only increases fish production due to fast growth of this carp but also the semidigested plant matter voided by this fish in the form of excerta is eaten by other fishes. There is a Chinese saying that “if you feed one grass carp well, you are feeding three more fish”. These six species of Indian and Chinese origin are cultured together under a system of management involving pond preparation, eradication of unwanted stock, fertilization, manuring, feeding these fish through supplementary feeding and manipulation of stock through intermitent harvesting and stocking. The fish yields ranging from 3,000–6,000 kg/ha/yr have generally been achieved through the adoption of above package of practices in the field conditions against the earlier production rate of 600–1000 kg/ha/yr.

The production system has since been verified in different parts of the country through All India Coordinated Research Project on Composite Fish Culture with its centres located in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Bihar, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The production level in some of the experimental ponds of the All India Co-ordinated Research Project went upto 10,678 kg/ha/yr (Sinha, 1979).


In India both Govt. and non-Govt. organisations are presently engaged in dessimination of the technology of Composite fish culture through their various transfer of technology schemes. Some of the important schemes are given below:

4.1 All India Coordinated Research Project on Composite Fish Culture.

This project, besides testing the feasibility and economic viability of composite fish culture technology under different agroclimatic conditions was also engaged in transfer of technology work in the target area. The training programmes were arranged for the extension workers of the respective State Govts., Officers of Fish Farmers' Development Agencies (FFDA), Bank Officials, entrepreneurs and fish farmers (Tripathi, 1982).

4.2 National Demonstration.

The National Demonstration Programme (NDP) is based on the concept of “Seeing is beleiving”. It was felt that one convincing demonstration, particularly in a farmers' field is more effective than a month's preaching. The National Demonstration Programme was initiated in the year 1965 by the ICAR to demonstrate the potential of new production technologies in the farmers' field. This provided an opportunity to scientists to demonstrate the validity and relevance of their experimental findings in farmers' field and paved the way for establishing close linkage between the farmers and scientists from which both have derived immense benefits.

4.3 ICAR/State Govt./Agricultural University Demonstration.

The result and method demonstrations of composite fish culture technology are being conducted by the ICAR Institutes, Fisheries Departments of the various State Govts. as well as extension wings of the Agricultural Universities.

After the high yielding technology of composite fish culture was tested in various parts of the country through All India Coordinated Research Project, certain National Demonstration Programme were taken up in Mirhati, Khardah and Nilganj in West Bengal and at Marshaghai in Orissa. Fish productions ranging from 5,142 kg to 7,300 kg/ ha/yr were achieved. This convinced the farmers about the feasibility and economic viability of Composite Fish Culture Technology, and gave a big boost in the transfer of the technology in various states of the country.

The West Bengal State Fisheries Directorate, in pursuance of its efforts of dessiminate composite fish culture technology in the State, set up 98 demonstration centres in private farmers ponds, scattered all over the state and obtained average fish production of 4,372 kg/ ha/yr against the earlier production of 600 kg/ha/yr from the same water bodies before the adoption of technology (Murshed et al., 1977). The number of such centres has increased many fold now.

Similar demonstration centres were set up in other states also by Fisheries Departments/Agricultural Universities. These demonstrations have gone a long way in convincing the farmers that average natural productivity of fish ponds could be increased many fold by adopting the technology.

4.4 Voluntary Organisation Demonstration

Some voluntary organisations such as Rama Krishna Mission, World Lutheran Service, Don Bosco Society, Tagore Rural Development Society, Kamla Nehru Trust, etc. are also doing commendable service in the field of transfer of technology through their various schemes, as well as in collaboration with Govt. of India and ICAR.

4.5 Operational Research Project.

Based on the experience gained in the National Demonstration Programme, it was felt that there was a need to extend the concept of National Demonstration on an area or water-shed basis. Hence whole village or watershed Operational Research Projects involving an integrated approach to rural community problems through cooperation of local agencies, voluntary organisations, State Development Departments, agricultural universities etc. were initiated in the V Plan. At present 102 Operational Research Projects in specific and specialised areas are functioning and quite a few of these have fish culture as one of the components. The Operational Research Project on composite fish culture was initiated under Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute in March, 1975 at Krishnagar, District Nadia, West Bengal.

The Operational Research Project at Krishnagar has demonstrated that high fish yields can be obtained from large water bodies of over 1 to 2 ha through Composite fish culture and the technology is technically feasible and is economically viable. A large number of cooperative societies have now taken up composite fish culture in large beels in different parts of West Bengal.

The fish production through adoption of technology by the farmers in the area has increased many fold and has thus given a philip to the fish production in the area. This has convinced the fish farmers about the production potential of the technology.

As a result of this project local educated unemployed youth of the area have grouped themselves together to form cooperative societies, who arrange the sale of fish harvested from the project ponds on commission basis and also supply inputs for fish culture (Sharma et al., 1983).

Production trials conducted on integrating composite fish culture with livestock raising in the farmers' pond have proved that cost on inputs which is one of the major constraints in the adoption of this technology by rural people can be reduced considerably by recycling the excreta of livestock which are raised along with fish. The expenditure incurred on animal raising is off set through the sale proceeds of the eggs and animal meat. The three systems of fish-cum-pig, fish-cum-duck and fish-cum-poultry farming have been developed and demonstrated to the farmers of the area (Sharma et al., 1979).

Some of the Operational Research Projects such as Operational Research Projects of Jute Agricultural Research Institute, Barrackpore (West Bengal) and Operational Research Project of Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Operational Research Project of Central Plantation Research Institute, Kesaragod, Kerala, Operational Research Projects of Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Orissa, Operational Research Project on Diaraland of Bihar Agricultural University (Bihar), Operational Research Project of Soil Salinity Research Institute in Sunderbans etc. are doing commendable work on transfer of technology of composite fish culture in their respective areas (ICAR, 1977).

4.6 CIFRI/IDRC Rural Aquaculture Project.

This project was launched by the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada with a 3-year programme on technology transfer in 1975. It was operated in some of the selected villages of West Bengal and Orissa with the objective to promote aquaculture through demonstrations under actual field conditions.

In all, 73 villages, involving 111 farmers and 26 institutions were covered. The approach was to give demonstrations on various aspects of fish culture, through provision of all material and biological inputs together with complete 'knowhow' by the projects. The farmers participated in the programme throughout the period in stage-by-stage operations and received the harvest at the end, which provided them enough financial and technical expertise to take up aquaculture on their own. The project not only made a real impact during its operational phase but has created a class of neo-fish farmers who are well motivated to practice good management, who are learning from one another and providing each other continued social support and positive reinforcement even now when the project has ceased to function (CIFRI, 1979).

4.7 Fish Farmers' Development Agencies.

During the Fifth Five Year Plan, based on the recommendations of the Technical Committee on Inland Fisheries to provide intensive extension support for rapid development of fish culture and self employing the rural people, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India approved of a Central Scheme to set up Fish Farmers' Development Agencies (FFDA) on pilot basis in various states of the country. The State of Orissa has the largest number of such agencies followed by West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and other States. The FFDAs are autonomous agencies which function under the Chairmanship of the respective District Collectors. These agencies are expected to provide the much needed field mechanism to popularise the technology of composite fish culture amongst the farmers and also coordinate the activities of various institutional agencies engaged in inland fisheries development. It is mainly concerned with providing training to selected persons interested in fish culture, assisting them in securing suitable water resources for the purpose, sponsoring the purposes for grant of loans by banks, arranging necessary technical support, organising supply of fish seed and other inputs and finally enabling the farmers in marketing of their catch. Evaluations made by the National Council of Applied Economic Research reveal that the success stories of the FFDAs have created confidence among those who were hitherto reluctant to adopt the recommended practice of composite fish culture technology. At present there are 102 FFDAs in the country under the centrally sponsored scheme and some more under the State Sector and are actively engaged in transfer of technology programme (Dehadrai, 1982).

4.8 World Bank Project.

Under the envisaged work programme of the World Bank Projects, several fish hatchery complexes are coming up in some of the States to solve the problems of fish seed supply for composite fish culture operations.

The objective of the World Bank is to assist the Govt. of India in its efforts to develop fresh water fish farming to increase the table size fish production, generation of employment and developing rural economy. The project would provide assistance to 58 districts in five states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh to develop hatchery complex for increased seed production and composite fish culture. It is envisaged to bring 117,000 ha water area under fish culture and provide extension support by way of one extension worker for every 100 ha. water area and one extension officer for every 10 extension workers (Dehadrai, 1982).

4.9 Krishi Vigyan Kendra.

“Krishi Vigyan Kendra” is, in fact, a Hindi nomenclature, the English equivalent of which is “Farm Science Centre”. The concept of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) has been conceived as a vocational training institution for practicing farmers, village youth, farm women and fishermen with a view to accelarate the process of transfer of technology in more effective manner. The training design of KVK is based on the principle of “learning by doing”. The skill training and need based courses are the two important components of the KVK programmes. It does not have the system of maintaining fixed syllabi; the training programmes are tailored according to the need of the trainees. In other words, the approach is to impart right type of training to the right people at the right time and place.

The first KVK was established by the ICAR in March, 1974 towards the end of the Fourth Five Year Plan at Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu). During the Fifth Five Year Plan, 18 more KVKs were established under the patronage of ICAR Institutes, agricultural universities, voluntary organizations and state departments of agriculture. There has been further addition to this aggregate in recent years and the latest tally of such KVKs in the country is 61, operating in 24 States and Union Territories.

The KVK at Kausalyagang, functioning under the aegis of the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute of the ICAR, has been established with the primary objective to cater to the needs of aquaculture extension in this region. It was inaugurated by the then Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, late Smt. Indira Gandhi on January 3, 1977. Identification of the training needs is the first step which is taken into account while formulating appropriate training courses and organizing effective training programmes. This necessitates to have a thorough knowledge of the potential trainees and the conditions surrounding them. For this, a systematic survey of the operational villages and the farming families is conducted so as to bring out information on the specific features of the socio-economic status of the farming communities and resource potential at command that can be tapped for promoting aquacultural activities. Such survey, also helps in identifying the crucial technological gaps and the training needs which are vital for the rapid transfer of technology.

The on-campus training programmes are conducted at the demonstrational farm of the centre. Normally, short-term courses of 10 to 20 days durations are organised. Another feature of the programme is the off-campus training which is actually a follow-up measure in which KVK teachers go to the villages and induce the trainees to take up aquacultural activities by providing them the needed guidance as well as by solving their local problems. Such programmes also cater to the needs of other farmers of the village who are unable to derive benefits of the on-campus training programmes owing to their various preoccupations. So far, more than 1200 farmers have been trained under these programmes of Kausalyagang KVK and a number of them have been converted into successful pisciculturists (Sharma and Thakur, 1985).

4.10 Trainers' Training Centre.

The kind and quality of training being envisaged in the KVKs, demands practical and experienced trainers. The trainers, as a matter of fact, should be in a position to demonstrate the skills to the trainees effectively by actually doing the operations themselves on the principles of “teaching by doing”. Such trainers/ teachers, owing to our academic-oriented education and training, are not easily available. The Trainers' Training Centre (TTC) at Kausalyagang, which is only one of its kind in the field of inland fisheries in the whole country, is functioning with the objective to impart in-service training to the trainers/teachers of various non-degree level institutions dealing with fisheries, such as KVKs, Farmers' Training Centres, FFDAs, agricultural schools, extension training centres, and vocational training schools who are directly involved in developmental activities, especially in Community Development Blocks, Gram Panchayats (Village bodies), tribal belts and extension personnel in the department of fisheries of various state governments. The training programmes at TTC, Kausalyagang are aimed at providing a sound extension base through field oriented programmes together with thorough background on the theoretical aspects of the subject (Sharma and Thakur, 1985).

4.11 Lab-to-Land Programme.

The Lab-to-Land Programme was started by the ICAR in the year 1979 as a part of its Golden Jubilee Commemoration. The basic objective of this programme is to improve the economic condition of small and marginal farmers by transfer of proven and viable technologies in the field of agriculture, animal husbandry, dairy, agricultural engineering, fisheries and related fields. Under this programme, a strong feed back mechanism has been provided which enables the scientists to come in contact with farmers and understand the constraints which come in the way of rapid transfer of technology. The programme basically aims at (a) selecting and adopting required number of small and marginal farmers and landless labourers; (b) making survey of their resources; and (c) implementing suitable plans by involving agricultural scientists of all research and educational institutions, including other agencies in the country. The farmers, besides being given advisory services and training, are also provided with critical inputs for the technologies adopted by them worth Rs.500/-per family annually.

The transfer of technology of composite fish culture is being done by Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute through its Lab-to-Land programme. Two phases (I phase & II phase) of Lab-to-Land programme were concluded in May, 1984 and the III phase was started in June, 1984. A total of 600 farm families at six centres in West Bengal and Orissa are being covered under this phase. The results and method demonstrations of composite fish culture are being laid in about 150 ha. water area in the two states during the III phase.


Despite technological support, scientific fish farming has yet to be adopted widely. The reasons are varied and many. In India, village level ponds are the mainstay of aquaculture industry which are managed by the people who are from the lowest strata of the rural community. The major constraints encountered while dealing with them are listed below:

5.1 Constraint of inputs.

Fish seed, feed and fertilizers (FFF) are the critical inputs for scientific fish culture. The above category of farmers/rural poor find it very difficult to procure these inputs due to shortage and non-availability in the rural areas. Arrangements should be made for their easy availability.

5.1.1 Fiab seed:

Major input of fish culture, i.e. fish seed, is still in short supply in many parts of India. Seed of silver and grass carps are still scarce. Efforts like popularisation of induced breeding technique and bundh breeding in areas of favourable ecological conditions are steps which need be given due emphasis to overcome this constraint.

5.1.2 Feed & Fertilizers:

Timely easy availability of other critical inputs, like fertilizers and feed, in rural areas for fish culture poses problem in the development. Streamling of a system of availability of these inputs through Gram Panchayats and Cooperative Societies is very essential.

5.2 Financial constraints.

In order to meet the capital requirement of new technologies, selective liberalisation in lending procedure is essential. In case of ownership ponds, banks may accept water bodies as adequate securities, while in lease hold ponds the fish crop may be accepted for hypothecation to meet the short term requirement of funds.

5.3 Legal constraints.

Most of the fisherman do not own ponds and are pondless. Small and marginal farmers own, if at all, only small ponds. The large ponds are owned by State Govts. or Panchayats and are leased on short term basis as a result of which lessee cannot develop the water area due to tenurial insecurity. In respect of private waters, structural rigidities namely multiple ownership, public easement rights etc. impeded the development process. The leasing arrangements have generally been devoid of development bias mainly because of the short term lease period. Vast majority of water bodies particularly in eastern India are privately owned where leasing agreements are a bipartiate affair depending on market forces. There is an imperative need for framing tenancy legislation similar to agricultural lands.

5.4 Extension gap.

Lack of knowledge regarding scientific fish culture and its economic viability, on the part of the farmers is another constraint. A concerted effort, by different concerned organisations with trained man power, equipment and other facilities to gear up the fishery extension machinary is essential to overcome this constraint.

5.5 Social constraints.

Poisoning with insecticides or weedicides out of sheer vendetta and illegal removal of fish crop (poaching) are serious production disincentives in fish culture. This probably can be tackled by creating a social awareness on the matter and also by making the law of the land more stringent.


Barrackpore. 1979. Final report, CIFRI/IDRC rural aquaculture project. Rep. Cent. Inland-Fish. Res. Instt., Barrackpore.

Dehadrai, P.V., 1982. Keynote address. Presented to the First workshop on FFDAs, 15-17 April, Karnal.

New Delhi. 1977. ICAR Operational Research Project. Rep. ICAR, New Delhi.

Murshed, S.M., S.N.Roy, D. Chakraborty, M.Ranadhir and V.G.Jhingran, 1977. Potential and problems of composite fish culture technology in West Bengal. Cent. Inland Fish. Res. Inst. Barrackpore, Bull No. 25,1977.

Sinha, V.R.P., 1979. Present status of composite fish culture in India. Cent. Inland Fish. Res. Inst., Barrackpore, Souvenir, 1979.

Sharma, B.K., D.Kumar, M.K.Das and S.R.Das, 1979. Integrated aquaculture: Crop-livestock-fish farming and its cost benefits. Cent. Inland Fish. Res. Inst., Barrackpore, Souvenir, 1979.

Sharma, B.K., M.K.Das, S.R.Das and D.Kumar, 1983. Operational Research Project on composite fish culture. Paper presented to the Annual workshop ORPs, 22-24 Sept., 1983. Sukhadia University of Agriculture, Udaipur.

Sharma, B.K. and N.K.Thakur, 1985. Organizing rural poor for piscicultural programmes - the way KVK does it, Partnership in Progress (organising the rural poor) Issue No. 11, June, 1985. Lutheran World Service (I), Calcutta-700017.

Tripathi, S.D., 1982. Present status of composite fish culture in India, In lecture note on fish culture, Regional lead centre in India, FARTC, Dhauli, Bhubaneswar, India.

ICAR's Transfer of Composite Fish Culture Technology Schemes


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