Promoting sustainable inland aquaculture among small farmers in Puducherry
Author : Dr.Velvizhi.S, Ms Girija DS & Ms Kavitha VP
A situation analysis of the current challenges faced by inland fishers was held on February 11 at Puducherry. According to inland fishermen: cost of fish feed, availability of quality seeds and fingerlings, as well as marketing are the biggest challenges. It was reported that Puducherry has 77 fish-farm ponds available throughout its three communes. The inland fish-marketing opportunities are less remunerative compared to the marine fish-marketing opportunities by virtue of being an already well-established sector. Therefore, farmers expressed the need to explore new business opportunities for marketing inland fish in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, access government schemes, and raise issues with authorities. In light of the dialogue with 40 fishermen from the three communes of Puducherry, it became clear that there is a need to promote individual farmers as inland fisher collectives.
Dr Velvizhi, Head of MSSRF’s Fish for All Centre, and D S Girija, Development Coordinator, MSSRF Puducherry, explained the significance of the Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO), services it can offer to the members, the governance structure, and how MSSRF would extend support to establish a FPO and offer further hand-holding.
As the first step, a base unit of Farmer’s Interest Groups (FIGs) with 15 to 20 members each was formed. The first group was formed in Kuruvinatham village on February 21 and preliminary work has been initiated to form seven additional FIGs.
As a follow-up to the face-to-face meeting on February 15 and 16, a cross-learning session was facilitated through video conferencing with mature FPOs working in other centres of MSSRF. They briefed the participants about organisational procedures – including roles and responsibilities of the directors, auditing procedure, the formation of FIGs and Farmer Producer Companies (FPC) – statutory compliances, framing the vision and objectives of FPOs, and shared their experiences on the different challenges faced, and how they handled it. Furthermore, plans about an in-person exposure visit to the FPOs were also made in order to learn from others, gain hands-on experiences and design the bylaws and services to be delivered to the members.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.