Small,medium and large fish farmers are ahead of their midsized peers in adopting semi-intensive farming practices, which are expected to bring higher output, according to some studies.
for example,the study by the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) finds that 63 percent farmers in small and large categories in terms of farm size grow fish following the improved farming practices.
On the other hand, 54.3 percent of medium farmers follow the same production method, which requires the use of supplementary feed to complement natural feed in order to grow fish.
Overall, 59.6 percent of aquaculture producers are engaged in growing fish based on the semi-intensive farming practices, said the study titled “Supports received by the Aquaculture Sector in Bangladesh: Existing Reality and Scope for Improvements”.
It meant 40.2 percent farmers still follow the traditional method. Only 0.2 percent of the respondents produce fish based on intensive farming, according to the study, which was carried out with support from the Department of Fisheries (DoF) and Swisscontact Bangladesh’s market development project Katalyst.
The study was conducted in January-February this year and information was collected from 450 fish farms in 16 districts, well-known for fish farming, covering all the divisions.
The study was undertaken at a time when aquaculture has become a major occupation in rural and semi-urban areas. About 11 percent of the population depends on the sector for their livelihood.
Farmers grow various types of carps, shrimps, and catfish such as pangas, koi, shinghi and tilapia.
Cultured fish made up 56.82 percent of the total 38.78 lakh tonnes of fish produced in Bangladesh in 2015-16, according to the DoF.
One of the major sub-sectors driving the growth of agriculture GDP, the fisheries sector provides 60 percent of the total protein and accounted for 3.65 percent of gross domestic product in 2015-16.
Fishing is the main occupation for more than 70 percent growers in the farming regions with crop cultivation and businesses being the secondary income-generating activities.
“Aquaculture can be economically empowering income-wise even for small farmers,” said the study. The study records daily per capita income for small farmers at $4.9.
According to the study, high cost of feed is a major problem confronting farmers with 90 percent of respondents identifying it as a key obstacle.
The cost of fish feed accounts for 61 percent of the total production expenses. Seed, such as fish fries, contributes 14.9 percent to the expenditure.
The study said the aquaculture farmers who can not meet the feed cost from their own sources need easy and hassle-free credit.
“If quality feeds are not available and their prices are unreasonably high, this impacts on the eventual profitability from production from aquaculture farmers,” it said.
However,capital to enable this venture are inadequate. Some 77.3 percent of the farmers identified inability to offer collateral as the major barrier for obtaining loans.
Other obstacles include reluctance of banks to sanction loan, long approval time taken by banks and absence of insurance to help farmers overcome difficulties incurred by production loss, high interest rates, and repayment modalities, according to the study.
Some 65 percent of the respondents are of the view that they are not getting the right price for their produce.
.“All these point towards the need for development of special credit products for aquaculture farmers especially the smaller and medium farmers,” .
The Bangladesh Shrimp and fish foundation (BSFF) study said 88 percent farmers identified availability of credit and capital on easy terms one of their foremost requirements. Some 87 percent of the respondents said they would benefit if quality feed is produced and made available at low price.
The study called for steps aimed at cutting production cost by way of reducing import duty and fixing concessional land rent as well as electricity and diesel prices to facilitate faster growth of the sector.
It also recommended developing an aquaculture insurance scheme, enhancement of capacity of fisheries extension officials and promotion of investment-friendly water-body leasing system.