The Kathmandu Post, Amrita Anmol,1st May 2017, Butwal
The government’s plan to establish a fishery zone in Rupandehi district has hit a snag as few farmers have shown interest in digging ponds.
Due to lack of progress, a significant portion of the Rs176.8 million budget allocated through the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project to develop fishery zones on 500 hectares of land has lapsed.
The project said that it was compelled to return the money as frequent attempts to enlist farmers to dig ponds ended in failure.
The project has returned Rs97.5 million out of the total allocation of Rs176.8 million. Likewise, the project has slashed the fishery area from 500 to 200 hectares.
Makbul Ali Khan, unit head of the project based in Rupandehi, stated that they had no option but to return the funding as they couldn’t find any farmers and the fiscal year was nearing its end.
Farmers acquiring subsidies through the project have to dig ponds at least 1 hectare in area.
The government provides Rs300,000 for digging a pond 1 hectare in area. Moreover, the government provides equipment required to dig ponds at a discount. Technological input is provided free.
Despite the attractive offer, farmers have shown no interest in digging fish ponds. According to Bhoj Raj Sapkota, head of the District Agriculture Office, farmlands are being developed for housing, and finding 1 hectare of land to dig ponds is difficult because that is a large plot.
“Farmers are facing a land shortage,” Sapkota said. Only 145 farmers have filed applications to dig ponds on 89 hectares of land.
Farmers had started becoming interested in fish farming after the government launched a fish mission programme five years ago in Rupandehi.
The 10-year Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, launched this fiscal year, was expected to give a further boost to commercial aquaculture.
The project had envisioned adopting modern farm techniques to boost productivity and making the country self-reliant in food.
Under the project, the government had identified Rupandehi as an area to be developed as a fishery zone, while Bara was selected as a fishery super zone.
The fishery zone programme will cover eight village development committees (VDCs) of Rupandehi, with Dayanagar becoming the centre. Dayanagar VDC has established itself as one of the model villages for fish farming.
Commercial fish farming is done on 1,000 hectares here, and there are nearly 4,000 fish ponds in Rupandehi.
The district has a potential to produce 8 tonnes of fish per hectare. Last year, the district produced 4,205 tonnes of fish valued at Rs400 million. In the previous year, the district had recorded an output of 3,800 tonnes of fish.
Sapkota said that production was expected to jump 50 percent after the project is implemented.
According to farmers, raising 100,000 fingerlings will yield an income of Rs2 million. Fish are normally harvested for five months to a year.