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The Hindu, Chennai, 05 Feb 2009
Timely application of technical skill can provide a windfall
Seeking technical expertise turned a Bihari farmer’s luck around

Wise investment: Fish farmer, Bipin Kumar (holding the fish) in his farm pond in Bihar.

The main aim of any agricultural enterprise should be income generation. "Whatever be the crops, whether grown in a small area or in a large landholding, the bottom line should be a good price for farmers," says Mr. Ramadhar, Chairman, Farmers’ Commission, Bihar.

With a number of problems such as manpower shortage, shrinking lands, high input costs and lack of proper marketing avenues plaguing agriculture today, the role of proper technical expertise assumes significance for guiding a farmer.

Focus on farmers

“Mere technical innovations divorced from the social life structure of the farmers can never succeed.

Both scientific experts and the farmers must work hand in hand. For our country to become secure in food production, our focus should be on farmers and not merely on scientists and their inventions,” he says.

Take the case of Mr. Bipin Kumar, a fish farmer in Madhuban village in Bihar. He started fish production with limited experience and after suffering heavy losses, a well wisher directed him to approach the office of Deputy Director Fisheries, Darbhanga, where he came into contact with Dr. Tun Tun Singh, Extension Officer.

Turning point

“It proved a turning point in my life,” says Mr. Bipin. “In about 5-6 years under the guidance of Dr. Tun Tun I make a profit of Rs.15 lakh a year today.”

“When Mr. Bipin first approached me for help I spent some time talking to him to get an idea about where things had gone wrong in his business.

Lacks technical skill

After the initial discussions, I paid a visit to his farm and realised that though the basic infrastructure such as cement tanks were ready, he lacked the technical skill,” says Dr. Tun Tun.

Accordingly Dr. Tun Tun prepared a detailed project. “More than my technical inputs, the dedication and strong determination in Mr. Bipin’s attitude made his enterprise a success,” says Dr. Tun Tun. With an initial capital of Rs. 30,000, Mr. Bipin started rearing fish fries in half acre ground area and got a net income of Rs.50,000 in a year.

The hefty return tempted him to go further and he decided to start his own hatchery unit. “I pumped in my savings of Rs 2 lakh and raised another Rs. 2 lakh from private money lenders at 36 per cent interest. After running from pillar to post I got a bank loan for Rs. 3.5 lakh.

The fisheries department also granted me subsidy at Rs. 73,000 for my unit. “But I could not sustain the success and failed miserably.

Floods, death of the fingerlings, and absence of proper guidance played havoc with my project. But all this changed in a matter of 3-4 years after Dr. Tun Tun took charge of my unit,” he says.

Under his guidance Mr. Kumar’s income slowly started rising from Rs. 4 lakh in 2005 to Rs.15 lakh today.

Farm capacity

Now, with three breeding, three hatching tanks, 10 cemented cisterns for nursing the spawns, and a sales counter, his fish farm capacity reached nearly 15 million fries.

According to Prof. R. K.P. Singh, advisor, Farmers Commission, fish seeds are in good demand in Bihar. Buyers from Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Rusora, Chapra, Siwan, Begusarai. Vaisali (North Bihar) areas come to Dharbanga to buy the seeds.

Growing demand

Like Mr. Bipin Kumar there are many entrepreneurs in Dharbanga who mainly produce seeds of Rohu, Catla, Muigal, Grass carp, Silver carp and Common carps.

“Keeping in view the growing demand for fish seed several entrepreneurs invest their income to expand their farm capacity,” says Dr. Tun Tun.

For more information readers can contact Mr. Bipen Kumar, mobile: 09431051129, 09430013191 and Dr. Tun Tun Singh, Fisheries extension officer, office of Deputy Director Fisheries, Darbhaga range, Darbhanga, Bihar: 846001, email: ttsingh 2002@yahoo.com, mobile: 09431086114.


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