Govt’s fish farming project floundersThe government’s plan to develop a fishery block under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project in Chitwan district has hit a snag due to lack of interest shown by farmers in digging ponds.
The government’s plan to develop a fishery block under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project in Chitwan district has hit a snag due to lack of interest shown by farmers in digging ponds.
With farmers showing lacklustre interest in digging ponds to rear fish the, budget allocated by the government to extend as grant to the farmers has remained unspent.
Out of Rs 30 million allocated for the development of a fishery, Rs 29.9 million was for the construction of the new ponds. However, Rs 23.8 million remains unspent.
The project’s plan was to prepare fish pond in 99 hectares of land, monitor the fish farms and provide training to farmers willing to start a fishery. In a bid to implement the plan District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), Chitwan had called for farmers interested in digging new ponds to apply in January.
But only 80 farmers applied. The DADO then issued the notice for a second time, attracting 35 more farmers.
Out of the total applicants, 74 farmers signed an agreement with the office. Of those who signed the agreement, 65 of them have completed construction of the ponds.
Although a significant number of farmers applied for the grant, a portion of them did not sign the agreement according to Parshu Ram Yadav, fish development officer at DADO Chitwan.
“Large portion of allocated budget remained unspent as farmers showed little interest in digging new ponds,” he said, “Instead of digging 95 hectares of land, only 22.5 hectares was dug and Rs 6.7 million was spent.”
The government introduced the project to develop a fishery block for the first time, declaring Madi and Western Chitwan as ideal areas for fishery.
Apart from monetary support to encourage farmers to undertake fish farming, the government also provides equipment required to dig ponds at a discount. Technological input is also provided free of cost. Despite the attractive offer, farmers have shown no interest in digging fish ponds, according to Yadav.
District locals involved in fishery on the other hand said the government introduced the project very late without coordination with farmers. “Therefore the project became unsuccessful,” said Jogendra Mahato, general secretary of the Nepal Fish Entrepreneurs Association. “It costs Rs 800,000 to construct a fish pond in a hectare of land.
But the government provides far less than that and therefore failed to attract the farmers to dig pond.”
Chitwan district has 2,223 fish ponds covering 575 hectares of land. There are around 1300 people involved in fish farming. Pokhara and Kathmandu are the major market for the fish produced in the district. Mainly rohu, mrigal, grass carp, silver carp, common carp, big head and catla species of the fishes are reared in the district. Last year, the district produced 2263 tonnes of fish, according to DADO Chitwan.