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Fisheries hook trouble-hit north Karnataka farmers

The allure of fishery, according to one farmer, lies in the fact that it has 'zero maintenance'
Last Updated : 16 February 2023, 22:00 IST
Last Updated : 16 February 2023, 22:00 IST
Last Updated : 16 February 2023, 22:00 IST
Last Updated : 16 February 2023, 22:00 IST

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Fishery seems to have caught the fascination of farmers in north Karnataka, where floods and droughts have brought people to their knees for the past few years.

Inland fish production has almost doubled over the last two years, from 2,51,880 tonnes in 2019-20 to 4,84,621 tonnes in 2021-22. And this startling rise has been partly enabled by the torrential downpours that have filled up rivers, dams and ponds to the brim.

The allure of fishery, according to one farmer, lies in the fact that it has "zero maintenance".

Take the case of 32-year-old Veeresh Kavatagi, who left his job in Bengaluru and returned to his native Kaulagi village in Vijayapura taluk.

Kavatagi built an improvised tarpaulin pond on a small piece of land out of the total 3 acres of dry farmland he owns. It has, Kavatagi said, revived his fortunes, with an investment of Rs 1.5 lakh now fetching him around Rs 8 lakh annually. He now sells his produce at a market in Hyderabad.

The revenue has spared him the anxiety of dealing with losses due to crop failure.

Vijayapura district is the current leader in fish production, producing 24,681 tonnes from January to December 2022, as the Almatti and Narayanpur reservoirs are in the district. Last year, Davangere was on top.

Setting up the business does not entail much of a labour cost on the lines of horticulture and agriculture. Farms, places near irrigation canals, tanks, rivers and water wells - all have become sites for fisheries. Some others have constructed farm ponds by digging borewells on their dry land.

Officials are doing their bit, deploying modern technology to promote fishing, along with stocking fish seeds and providing various subsidies.

The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana launched by the Union government in 2020 prompted as many as 800 farmers in Vijayapura to take up fisheries.

"There are 160 tanks under the maintenance of the minor irrigation department. Fishing activities are being undertaken in the backwaters of two major reservoirs. As many as 16 barrages have also been built across Krishna, Bhima and other rivers in the district,” said Siddappa Suragihalli, Vijayapura In-charge Deputy Director of Fisheries Department.

There are more than 3,000 farm ponds where farmers have started fisheries alongside their agricultural activities in Vijayapura district, he added.

In the little hamlet of Devagiri in Davangere taluk, as many as 10 enterprising farmers have dug more than 15 'farm ponds' in their paddy fields.

“I have a total of three and a half acres and growing paddy in only two acres. I have undertaken fishery in the remaining one-and-half acre," Devagiri farmer Sultan Bhasha told DH. "I am earning an annual net income of Rs 50,000 by growing paddy. Whereas, the net revenue from fisheries is Rs 1.50 lakh per annum."

Farmer Krishna Dolleshwar from Yalavatti village of Hangal taluk in Haveri district said fisheries have "zero maintenance unlike dairy and sheep rearing".

"I earn Rs 6 lakh revenue by investing Rs 1 lakh every year in fisheries”, said Dolleshwar, who has undertaken fisheries in a six-acre lake belonging to Zilla Panchayat.

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Published 16 February 2023, 18:42 IST

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