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Fish for food

Aquaculture is the controlled cultivation of freshwater and marine resources, both plant and animal, for human consumption. Some plants grown through aquaculture yield substances that are used as thickeners or gelling agents in foods, drugs, and other products.

education Updated: Mar 21, 2012 13:42 IST

The lowdown
Aquaculture is the controlled cultivation of freshwater and marine resources, both plant and animal, for human consumption. Some plants grown through aquaculture yield substances that are used as thickeners or gelling agents in foods, drugs, and other products. Acquaculturists work in natural water bodies or in artificial ponds, lakes or reservoirs. By controlling the environment, nutrition, breeding and life cycle of the organism, an aquaculturist can improve the quality and productivity of his/her crops. Fish accounts for more than 50% of the annual worldwide aquaculture production. India accounts for the world’s second largest inland fish production. In 2008-09, it produced 46.4 lakh tonnes of inland fish, according to data from the department of fisheries, government of India

Clockwork
An average day of an aquaculturist:
7am: Wake up, get ready
9am: Reach farm
10am: Delegate work to staff/labourer
11am: Check water — its level, degree of contamination/pollution, if at all
11.30am: Monitor the growth of fishes
Noon: Arrange for fish feed
2pm: Quick lunch
3pm: Survey the entire farm and fix loopholes, if any
5pm: Leave the farm for the day

The payoff
Earnings vary from the scale of your organisation, and are higher than what one can earn from agricultural crop production.

A person can earn a minimum profit of Rs 60,000 to Rs 80,000 a year from one hectare of pond area. If integrated practice is followed, the profit margin can double. In commercial prawn culture, a hatchery of 10 million post-larvae capacity can yield profits of Rs 7 lakh a year

Skills/TRAITS
* A farmer-friendly mindset
* Ability to work in field conditions
* Should be intelligent so as to adopt modern techniques available to increase productivity

Getting there
Read physics, chemistry and biology in Class 12. After that, apply for BFSc, a professional degree programme in any state agricultural university. After that, work in the corporate/government sectors or go in for higher studies

Institutes and URLs
* Central Institute of Fisheries Education
www.cife.edu.in
* Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture,
www.cifa.in

Pros and cons
* Sectoral growth is high compared to other agricultural activities
* You can suffer big losses if the fish die due to contamination, etc

Only five to six species of fish are commercially cultured. Yet, the industry offers huge scope to people who can join the industry, pursue further studies or with some experience, start their own business Rina Chakrabarti, professor, department of zoology, University of Delhi