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Culture of short-cycle species in seasonal ponds and ditches in Bangladesh

by Modadugu V. Gupta

Homestead seasonal ponds, ditches and road-side canals, which are formed either due to burrowing of soil for house or road construction or ponds dug for household uses (bathing, washing) or irrigation, can be used for aquaculture of short-cycle species, such as silver barb (Puntius gonionotus) or Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Even 80-100 m ditches as shallow as 70-80 cm can be used for culture of these species, using on-farm agricultural wastes and by-products, as inputs. Even ponds, which retain water for only 3-4 months, can be used for culture of these species. The culture practice is simple, requiring very low labour input and, hence, can be undertaken by women and children, producing fish for household consumption and for market. Landless farmers can also benefit from this technology by culturing fish in common property roadside ditches.

Agroecosystem transect of Mymensingh-Sylhet floodplain area in Bangladesh

Technology for culture of short-cycle species

1. Pond preparation

- Clear away weeds.
- Trim branches to allow sunlight.

2. Fertilization

3. Stocking

4. Feeding

5. Pond management

6. Harvesting

7. Disease

Budget (in taka) for Puntius gonionotus and Nile tilapia culture in a seasonal pond of 500 m2 for 6 months




300 kg cattle dung at TK.35/kg



300 kg rice bran at TK1.50/kg



Labour for pond cleaning and harvesting



12.5 kg lime at TK3/kg



750 fingerlings at TK.30 each



Transportation cost of fingerlings



Total costs


1 008


75 kg fish at TK40/kg

3 000

2 250


2 017

1 242

1992: US$1 = TK38
Note: If on-farm sources of cattle dung and rice bran are used along with family labour, then TK690 can be saved which will raise the balance to TK2 707 for Puntius and TK1 932 for Tilapia.

Issues for further consideration

This culture is widely practiced in the area described and is an important system for poorer people. However, it remains to be clarified if landless people take control of their local common property and intensify it in the way described, using disinfection and fertilization. Social aspects are a critical issue. Multiple ownership of ponds is a common constraint to increased levels of management, and often leads to erratic or infrequent management.

This practice is perceived to have high potential, but in order to formulate recommendations and estimate potential areas and characteristics and numbers of likely adopters, critical information needs to be documented: e.g. the mode in which small communities or extended family groups have organized themselves; the extent to which the procedure has already been adopted; the range of benefits it has actually brought to households, etc.

In respect to «table-size» fish, recent research in northwest Bangladesh indicates that small tilapia are acceptable to resource-poor households and are even desired by women as they have little cash value and are therefore more likely to be consumed by all family members.

The importance of these systems to marginal people in the community (e.g. the landless) and in the household (e.g. women) is noteworthy. Recent results show that access by women and the system's productivity can be enhanced with the right extension approach.

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