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Integrated Fish Farming – A tri-commodity approach

Deepa Bisht and R.C.Sundriyal 

With ample water resources, the communities in hilly regions of Uttarakhand found an alternative livelihood supplementing agriculture. Village communities found it remunerative to integrate fish rearing with poultry and vegetable cultivation. Besides income, the integrated model helped to improve the nutrition levels of household members.

Uttarakhand, is a state rich in natural resources. Agriculture remains the basic livelihood for the majority of the rural population. Plain region of the state is rich in agriculture and produces enough food. However, in mountainous region, farming is constrained by small and scattered farm holdings, poor soils and lack of irrigation facility. Besides uncertainties of weather, damage by wild animals (monkeys and wild boar) has adversely affected crop production. T

Demonstrations were conducted in farmers fields to promote fish farming

he prevailing situation has been discouraging farmers to grow crops.

Considering that horizontal expansion of land based enterprises is not possible, options for vertical expansion within the existing farming system need to be explored. The region is endowed with fresh water resources, which have great potential for aquaculture and integrated fish farming (IFF). With the aim to make farming a profitable venture through optimum utilization of water resources and land resources; generate employment and income and to provide nutritional security to the rural people, G. B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development (GBPNIHESD), Kosi-Katarmal, Almora, promoted Integrated Fish Farming. Demonstrations were carried out in farmers’ fields in Basoli and Manan in Almora district, by integrating fishery with livestock, poultry and vegetable cultivation, through participatory approach, during 2004-07.

Development of technology centric model for livelihood security

Farmers of the region practice agricultural and allied activities on traditional basis.  Most of them grow three crops in two years in cereals-millet rotation.  Crops like wheat, barley, paddy, finger millet, barnyard millet, soya bean, horse gram, and a few vegetables are grown in almost fixed rotation. Dairy and vegetable production are potential livelihood options for small farmers. Fish farming has not been a common practice in hilly areas of Uttarakhand, though some of them have water bodies on their farm.

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was conducted with the villagers during 2004-05 to get to know about the prevailing situation in the villages. Elderly people, women and members of gram panchayat participated in PRA exercise. Following PRA, several farmers of these villages showed interest to experiment Integrated Fish Farming alongside their traditional cropping system. Farmers were selected on the basis of common community agreement and voluntary basis depending on available resources, farmers’ need and their interest. All the selected farmers had a water body near their farm.

Poultry integrated with fish farming

Initially, awareness and skill-oriented training programmes and demonstrations were organized at their villages and at Rural Technology Centre, GBPNIHESD. They were given training on various aspects of integrated fish farming through lectures, audio-visuals and field visits. A total of 9 models of IFF were established on farmers’ fields, involving farmers at all stages of development.

Fish pond and poultry/duck house at dyke of the pond were constructed at Basoli and Manan villages in Almora district. A combination of compatible fish species with complementary feeding habits, occupying different ecological niches were stocked to make better use of the natural food available in the pond. Fingerlings of exotic carp species (5.5-10.0 cm) viz., silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) (45%), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) (35%) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) (20%) at a density of 3/m3 were released into the pond during first week of March when water temperature was >160C. To reduce the production cost and to ensure availability of food and manure for fish production, chicken (3000 birds/ha) of hybrid layer species of chick bird (Kurioler) were stocked at Basoli. For comparison of fish growth, yield and economic viability, ducklings (300/ha) of the most potential egg laying species, Khaki Campbell (Anas platyrhchos) were introduced in 1 male: 5 female ratio at Manan during first year. Owing to less return from fish integrated with ducks, from second year onwards, ducks were replaced with chick birds at Manan.

Vegetable cultivation was also integrated with fish culture at both the sites. Earlier, farmers were engaged in agricultural and allied activities, dominated by traditional subsistence cereal-millet farming. Besides, local cultivars of a few vegetable crops such as cucurbits, french bean, okra, tomato etc., were also grown on traditional basis during kharif season. Vegetables were now promoted on 600 sq.m area with improved varieties of different vegetables suitable for the region. Farmers were also imparted technical know-how for vegetable cultivation.


Composite carp culture in fish cum duck integrated system has yielded 4621 kg/ha/yr, 900 eggs and 14 kg of duck  from 264 m2 pond at Manan. Further, the market demand of the hills is very limited for the duck eggs and meat.

The yield of fish raised with chick birds have yielded 4269 to 4825 kg of fish/ha/yr (Table 1), 120 to 130 kg of chicken (live weight) and 4200-4400 eggs at Manan.  Around 5650 to 6030 kg of fish/ha/yr, 55 to 65 kg of chicken and 2500-3000 eggs were produced at Basoli. These fish yields are comparable to the fish yields reported under fish-duck/poultry integration in India and several other Asian countries. Still higher yields could be achieved through intensive supplementary feeding at initial stages of growth and recycling of manure obtained from integration of poultry thereafter.

Table 1. Fish yield in small ponds at two sites

Year Basoli  (100 m2) Manan (264 m2)
Production (Kg) Yield (Kg/ha) Production (Kg) Yield (Kg/ha)
First Year 56.5 5650 122.0 4621
Second Year 60.3 6030 127.4 4825
Third Year 57.9 5790 112.7 4269
Average 5823 4572


Kurioler chick birds started egg laying after 18 weeks while ducks after 22 weeks. Besides, the year round vegetable cultivation on the pond dyke and associated fields was possible using the overflow of pond, for irrigation. Around 1200-1400 kg and 1900-2300 kg of different vegetables were produced annually at Basoli and Manan, respectively. Enhanced vegetable production led to higher remuneration and generated additional income and adequate employment opportunities. On an average, net gain of Rs 21,829 and Rs. 36,823 was obtained annually from IFF with investment of Rs 8,109 and Rs 11,925 by the families at Basoli and Manan, respectively. Besides substantial monetary gain, farmer’s family got fresh vegetables and good quality animal protein, which has helped to reduce malnutrition, particularly in children and women.

Fish production was higher in integrated model

It is evident from the results that the integrated fish-poultry farming is functionally and economically feasible in the hilly region. However, the rearing of ducks in integrated system was less productive when compared to poultry integrated with fish culture.   Also owing to less preference for duck eggs in local market, this integration was found uneconomical too.

Farmers have faced some challenges in adopting this method. For example, unavailability of fish seed (fingerlings) in the hills forces them to transport of fish seed from long distance Tarai region (150-200 km) to these remote areas. It is an expensive and a tough job. To overcome this problem, farmers have started approaching State Fishery Department, other government organizations and NGOs working for rural development, for fingerlings.

Rearing of ducks in integrated system was found less productive and uneconomical

The IFF model complements cropping activities of small farmers and generates employment and income, thus leading to social and economic uplift of the society. Demonstration and the requisite training to the farmers have been two crucial steps in the transfer of technology in the hills. The success of this model, demonstrated at nine different villages under various programmes, has motivated farmers in other villages to adopt this technology. The State Government is also promoting such activities. 


Authors are thankful to the Director of the G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development, Kosi-Katarmal, Almora, India for encouragement and providing necessary facilities. Financial support from DST, Govt. of India, New Delhi is highly acknowledged.  

Deepa Bisht

Scientist- DST



Scientist-G and Head

Centre for Socio-Economic Development

G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan

Environment and Sustainable Development,

Kosi-Katarmal, Almora-263 643, Uttarakhand, India.

Email: sundriyalrc@yahoo.com