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Big change from small fish

Small farmers in Dinajpur and Rangpur, two northern districts of Bangladesh are now producing Mola fish in their ponds which was earlier considered an open water fish and can’t be produced in the ponds.  But after the implementation of ‘Small Fish and Nutrition’ project , a number of farmers in two districts are enabled to produce it commercially in their ponds, while others are using it for household consumption, which is a good source of vitamin A, iron and zinc, essential for growing children and lactating mothers.

Those farmers were provided training on small fish production technology along with crap polyculture, introduced by Worldfish for the first time in  the country, supported by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) under Small Fish and Nutrition’ project.

The project was started in November, 2010 and ended in June, 2012. During this period 1550 households of 63 communities, were involved in small fish production into homestead seasonal ponds, perennial ponds and ponds those are connected to paddy fields. In addition, they were educated about the significance of nutrition, which could be derived from small fish. The target people were small farmers who have ponds, poor men and women, especially lactating mother and women who have small children.

Before the project was launched, the small fish production was very low, 64.4 KG/Ha and the production of mole was almost nil. During the project period the small fish production rose significantly to 896 Kg/Ha, whereas and the production of mola was found 655 Kg/Ha. The small fish contribution was reached to 29% of the total fish production.

On the other hand, women of those communities were not aware of healthy diet for their children, which they could achieve from small fish, especilly from Mola fish. They also didn’t know the proper way to cook it. They used to cut the boneheads and wash it several times before cooking and lost the nutrition ingredients of Mola. The project trained the village women on how they should cook Mola fish preserving its nutrients and how they should feed their kids (6-24 months) small fish , as an additional food with rice and vegetables. Mothers now say, they observe positive changes in their children after they are taking small fish. They are now healthier, suffer from diseases less than before.

The project trained a total of 266 farmers, one man and one woman from each community, who were called lead farmers, later who performed as trainers to their communities. Among them, 130 farmers received technical training on carp-mola poly culture system and another 136 were provided nutrition education.  They conducted demonstrations in their villages to share their knowledge with others.

The Mola fish were collected from nearby beels (waterbodies), river of Ichhamoti and from other regions and reared into separate pond to become brood fish. Later the mola brood fish were supplied 150 Kg /decimal to selected pond owners for stocking with the crap species.  They were trained to nurture it. The owners found total fish production including mola increased more than two folds after they adopted the new technology. Their success has motivated other farmers and they are now adopting this technology.

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