Livelihood improvement through Ecosystem-based Wetland Management
To support the livelihoods of the wetland-dependent community of Beledanga Beel, the ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, Kolkata initiated an “Ecosystem-based Wetland Management Programme” under the ICAR W3 Project and the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan.
The Beledanga Beel is an Oxbow Lake managed by the Beledanga Barrackpore Fishermen’ Cooperative Society Ltd. since 1958. Being Horseshoe-Shaped with an area of 62 ha in monsoon, the Beel is Eutrophic in nature and highly infested with macrophytes. Keeping the scenario in mind, the ICAR-CIFRI commenced a participatory demonstration of Pen Culture Technology. The main objective was production enhancement in the Beel for supporting the livelihood of the fishermen of Beledanga Beel.
For enhancing the fish production and supporting the socio-economic conditions of the adjoining villages, the Institute adopted the Beledanga Beel in 2019. After collecting the baseline data and chalking-out the initial interventions, the Institute installed around 5 ICAR-CIFRI Pen HDPE® of 0.1 Ha and stocked with Advanced Fry of Indian Major Carps while the Grass Carp Fry was stocked in one Pen. These Pens were scientifically managed with all prophylaxis measures including feeding.
The Institute also organized the capacity building programmes for the fishers. After three months, the Fingerlings were released in Beel. The Institute also extended technical support and inputs like fish seed, ICAR-CIFRI Cagegrow® fish feed, Coracles to the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS).
In 2020, by harvesting around 28,307 Kg fish with productivity of 629 Kg / ha, the FCS achieved around 32% increase in production. Gaining a good weight within a year, the Grass Carp was also very effective for controlling the macrophytes in a natural way. Experiencing better harvest, the Beledanga fishers installed two more Pens in the same Beel for In-Situ Seed Rearing. With the active participation of the Beledanga Society people, 7 Pens were stocked with Advanced Fry.
In the first quarter of 2021, the Society harvested 6,190 Kg which is 27.6% more than the last year’s quarterly production. Though the fishing days were reduced due to COVID-19, still the production status showed a rise in the curve.
An increase in production proportionately contributed to an increase in the fishers’ income that will ultimately help to uplift the socio-economic status of the Beel dependent fishers. On conducting a study about the consumption pattern of the Beel dependent community, it was found that on an average the per capita fish consumption in Beledanga adjoining villages was 53 gm / day / person, which is more than the national average. Thus, if the Beledanga Beel is managed scientifically, the livelihood and nutritional needs of the adjoining community will be secured.
The need-based scientific interventions and community mobilization by the ICAR-CIFRI has brought a ray of hope to the vulnerable fishermen community. The better production from the Beel will lead to more secure livelihood which will lead to the fisher’s less migration and subsequently, also reduce the social tension.
The ICAR-CIFRI team is also trying to mobilize the fishers and their women counterparts for establishing good governance for sustainable Wetland Management which will ultimately provide livelihood and nutritional security to the wetland-dependent community.
The “ICAR-CIFRI Pen HDPE®” and “ICAR-CIFRI Cagegrow®” fish feed are the registered trademarks of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The two technologies have been commercialized by the ICAR-CIFRI in March, 2018.
(Source: ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, Kolkata)