Rivers of fish
The waterways in Madaripur's Shibchar upazila are proving to be an unexpected blessing for local fish farmers. Tilapia cultivation in rivers and waterholes is increasingly popular, with over 450 floating cages already taking advantage of this innovative and low-cost farming method.
“I saw a television programme about fish farming in cages, back in 2011,” says Tanjil Ahmad, 48, from Sheikhpur village. “It made me decide to farm fish. I went to Chandpur for two weeks to observe it being done. When I returned, I started with thirty cages that same year.”
Tanjil has since invested Tk 2.5 crore in his fish farm and earns up to Tk 30 lakh per annum from his 250 enclosures.
“Each cage is about 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and six feet deep,” explains fellow fish farmer Khokon Talukder.
“It costs around Tk 15,000 to set one up. In it, I can raise about 1,000 fish, with little cage maintenance required for five years. Anyone can do it. The best part is there's no need to have your own ponds or water bodies.”
Fish farmer Kamrul Dewan of Sheraulia village said most of the tilapia fish in the local market were farmed in cages in open water bodies these days.
“The fish are large in size and tasty; the fish sells for around Tk 130 a kilogram. Many local people are taking up this style of farming, inspired by our success.”
Indeed many locals are surprised at the bounty being created in the nearby Arial Kha River and Padma Beel wetland. “We never realised that fish could be cultivated in such a way,” says one Sheraulia resident, Apubo Chowdhury.
Ronojit Kumar, the upazila fisheries officer, notes the activity's rising popularity. Day by day more people are taking up fish farming in public waterways, he says.
“The fish from those farms can be raised to a good size without it taking too long.”