SCOPE FOR INTEGRATING AQUACHEST NUT CULTIVATION WITH FISH CULTURE IN BIHAR

Pradeep Kumar Raju Baitha M.Venkatasamy Fisheries College and Research Institute Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Thoothukudi – 628 008 Tamil Nadu

Bihar has a number of ponds and tanks of various dimensions scattered throughout the State, covering a widespread area of more than 95,000 hectares. Besides, roadside water stagnant areas of about one lakh hectares, that are water logged for 6-8 months in a year, are also found suitable for carrying out aquaculture activities in this State. . AQUACHESTNUT CULTURE

Plant

Fruit

The aquatic plant, Trapa bispinosa in commonly known as aquachestnut or singhara. It is a rooted plant with floating leaves characterized with luxuriant growth and in yesteryears it was considered as a weed and invasive species. Nowadays, it is very much relished as food, since the fruits are edible with high nutritive value (Table), by the people of Bihar and neighboring States in our country. The cultivation of aquachestnut in Bihar is an age-old practice and it is being cultivated as a cash crop. Large scale commercial cultivation of this species is being done in the districts of Aurangabad, Gaya, Darbhanga and Samstipur in ponds, tanks, bheels and water ways. Table : Nutritive value of Trapa bispinosa Contents Fresh Dry Moisture (g) 70 13.8 Protein (g) 4.7 13.4 Fat (g) 0.3 0.8 Carbohydrate (g) 23.3 68.9 Calcium (mg) 20 70 Phosphorus (mg) 150 440 Iron (mg) 0.8 2.4 Carotene (mg) 12 --Thiamine(mg) 0.05 -Riboflavin (mg) 0.07 -Niacin (mg) 0.06 -Vitamin C (mg) 9 -Energy (kcal) 115 336 (Source : Jha, 1999) It is best grown in shallow water perennial ponds which hold abundant water

throughout the year. The plant requires full sunlight and the water level should be at full by August every year. When there is lowering of water level for any reason, supply of extra water from other sources become necessary and so precaution should be taken to ensure that the water level of that area does not go dry during cultivation period of a crop. The water must have high organic content and should be as clear as possible and free from any high concentration of salts. High water fertility and neutral or slightly alkaline pH are required to induce proper growth of Trapa bispinosa A small area under culture may be used as nursery. Generally farmers use urea for fertilization of ponds at the rate of 40 – 45 kg / hectare of water spread area, in two instalments, at fortnightly intervals, with the first dose given in about 20 days after transplanting. The application of N P K fertilizers @ 40 kg, 40 kg and 50 kg per hectare is also found to give better results while taking first three or four picking of the fruit. 30 days after fruit setting, harvesting is done manually. These harvesting and the picking of fruits are completed by the end of November or in the beginning of December. About 25 to 30 persons are sufficient to harvest the seed nuts

of one hectare area in a day. The entire crop is harvested in four or five instalments with an interval of 8 to 10 days. At the time of harvesting, the size, softness of pulp, greenness of fruit and outer hard jacket amenable for every separation are to be considered. Previously, before 10 – 15 years back, farmers harvest nearly 15 to 22 quintals / hectare but now some farmers harvested 100 quintals from a hectare having adequate fertilization and intercropping practice. The cultivation cost per hectare normally range around Rs.15,000. With a production rate of 100 quintals of fruits per hectare, the net profit per hectare is estimated to be around Rs.30,000 per season of 6 months. FISH CULTURE Aquachestnut ponds are usually deep, having a water depth more than one meter. Because of dense leaf cover in the water surface, the phytoplankton population is usually very less. The bottom of the pond is normally found enriched with organic load. Catfishes and Indian Major Carps, particularly the column and bottom feeders, are more suitable for this type of culture. In these ponds it was found that the habits of the carnivorous bottom feeder Cat fish, omnivorous bottom feeder Mrigal and periphyton feeder Rohu had least adverse effects on the flowering and fruit setting of aquachestnut. Care should be taken for selecting species of fish to be cultured along the aquachestnut. Main important criteria in this line are,-

a. Adaptability to environmental conditions of aquachestnut pond waters. b. Fast growing ability to attain marketable size in a very short time. c. Having feeding habits so that, as they grow, there would not be any internal trophic level
competition for food. It is always advisable to select less active but fast growing fish species that could tap the natural productivity of the water, comprising plankton, benthos, periphyton and detritus. Manuring to stimulate the growth of plankton, as natural food and supplemental feeding with locally available feed ingredients are beneficial to both the culture components involved. Combination of two Indian Major Carps e.g. Rohu (Labeo rohita), Mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala) and the exotic carp, Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) in the ratio of 20 : 25 : 40 is recommended for stocking. The stocking density may range between 3000 and 5000 per hectare. Two to three months old carp seeds should be used to integrate with aquachestnut and if they are stocked at fry stage they may be preyed upon by the predatory fishes. Air breathing fishes, Clarias batrachus (Magur) and Anabas testudineus (Climbing perch),due to the presence of accessory respiratory organs, can survive anoxic conditions and more suitable for integration. Supplementary feeds comprising mixture of rice bean, ground nut oil cake, soya

bean meal, fish meal and mineral mixture in the ratio of 140 : 35 : 15 : 5: 0.4 with a crude protein level of 30-35% should be provided to the fish under intercropped culture @ 2-3% of biomass per day. The feeds should be provided in split doses 2- 3 times a day for eliminating wastages and achieving full utilization. The total fish yield expected will be around 0.75 to 1 ton / ha. The stocking of Magur and Climbing perch in 1:1 ratio was found to give a production 1000 kg/ha in 7 months without fertilization and supplementary feed. MERITS OF INTEGRATION

i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii.

Most economical utilization of water bodies since the same area is used for the production of both aquachestnut and fish. Reduction of labour because both are cultured simultaneously and some fishes tend to control aquatic weeds. Generally no need of supplementary feeds and if used unconsumed feeds serve as manure which will increase productivity. Fish act as insectivore by eating the pests and hence there will be increase in aquachestnut yields and reduced insect pest pressure. Fishes devour aquatic intermediate hosts such as mosquito larvae and freshwater molluscs connected with water diseases in near by locality and control them. Movements of fishes provide better aeration in aquachestnut ponds and hence increase in oxygenation leading to more crop yield. Excreta of fish will act as additional organic fertilizer for aquachestnut plants. DEMERITS OF INTEGRATION In the case of introduction of fish too early, they may damage the aquachestnut young plants. ii. Occasionally, there may be chances for reduction in dissolved oxygen due to the covering of water surface by luxuriant leaves of aquachestnut that make the environment unfavorable for the stocked carps. SUGGESTIONS

i.

Integration of aquachestnut cultivation with fish culture augments overall profitability and sustainability as compared to monoculture of aquachestnut. Among the total area under aquachestnut cultivation in Bihar, nearly 10% area is being used for integrating aquachestnut with fish culture. This potential for such integrated farming system is one of the best and most rational means of using the swamp or derelict wafer bodies of Bihar. If such integration is adopted on a large scale it will definitely play an important role in the rural economy of this State. Hence the technology of integrating fish production with aquachestnut cultivation can be propagated to other States having similar resource potential, as well, for the benefit of the aquafarmers.

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