Thursday, August 19, 2010

Aquaculture in salt affected waterlogged areas: A ray of hope for destitute Malwa farmers

Thursday, 13 May 2010

LUDHIANA: Inland salinization is increasing at alarming rates due to both natural and anthropogenic activities. About 1.25 lakh hectare of land in south-west districts of Punjab (Mukatsar, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Bathinda and Mansa) are affected by salinity and water logging. 

Prolonged water logging has resulted in heavy accumulation of salts which has made the land permanently unfit for crop production and hence forcing the farmers to commit suicide or migrate to cities for labour work. Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana took up the challenge of developing these salt affected waterlogged areas through aquaculture, said Dr. A.S. Nanda, Director of Research, GADVASU. 

Through financial support from the Punjab State Farmer's Commission, on-farm carp culture trials were conducted (2008-2010) in salt affected water logged areas of village Shajrana, Block Fazilka- District Ferozepur (underground water salinity 15-20 ppt (part per thousand). 

Punjab State Farmer Commision team inspecting fish stock. The studies have revealed encouraging results indicating carp productivity of 2.50 tonne /ha/yr, if the salinity is maintained below 10 ppt. This was achieved by constructing raised ponds in waterlogged areas and utilizing canal water for lowering the salinity and compensating water loss due to evaporation and seepage during the culture period. 

By adopting carp culture in these salt affected waterlogged areas the farmers are expected to earn Rs. 75,000- 90,000 per hectare from their zero earning land.

After successful on-farm carp culture trials in inland saline waters, another breakthrough has been achieved by GDAVASU by succeeding in rearing of brood stock and breeding of common carp in these waters. 

Encouraging results in terms of fertilization, hatching, survival and growth of seed in salinity up to 8 ppt have produced a strong ray of hope for aquaculture development in salt affected waterlogged waste lands as carp seed produced in saline water is expected to grow faster than the seed procured from freshwater. 

Positive results in this direction will not only lead to higher fish survival but also higher productivity which is further expected to improve with every successive generation. 

The success of on-farm trials have been appreciated by the Punjab State Farmer's Commission. On recommendation of the honourable Chief Minister of the State S. Prakash Singh Badal, a team of experts from Punjab farmers commission, Mohali comprising Dr. G.S. Kolar and Dr. Karam Singh (Consultants) had a meeting on 11.5.10 with Dr. A. S. Nanda, Director of Research, GADVASU, Dr. O. S. Parmar, Director Extension, GADVASU, Dr. Kamaldeep Kaur, Dean, College of Fisheries and Dr. Asha Dhawan, Senior scientist and Head, Department of Aquaculture, the principle investigator of the project. 

Envisaging the immense potential of the findings of the concluded project on utilization of salt affected waterlogged waste lands for economic gains through aquaculture, the university has been asked by the Commission to submit a 3-year Pilot project for testing and demonstrating saline water aquaculture technology in other salt affected districts. 

Dr. O.S. Parmar, Director Extension, GADVASU stated that under this project, one hectare fish cum poultry and fish cum piggery demonstration units will also be established for recycling of wastes and enhancement of profitability of the farmers.

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