Padma Shri Awardee Farmer Pioneers Profitable and Self-Sufficient Aquaculture Model; Read the story
Batakrushna Sahoo, 71, meticulously ironed his blue vest and white shirt before heading to the nation’s capital with a small suitcase and a few family members on their way to Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Ram Nath Kovind and receive the fourth highest civil distinction. Padma Shri.
Sahoo is now a well-known figure in the fish seed business in his state, producing around 40-50 million spawning of improved varieties each year. Sahoo’s family can now earn over Rs.12 lakh per year. He says that compared to agriculture, fish farming has very few associated risks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior levels of the Indian state, as well as several other outstanding and inspiring individuals, were scheduled to attend the event. After receiving the award last month, Sahoo told Mongabay-India about his “dream come true” moment, which elevated his small village of Sarkana in Odisha to a national spotlight.
Journey to fame
Sahoo first got into fish farming in 1986. He used to cultivate rice but did not find it very profitable. He used to cultivate rice and other crops on his 15 acres of land. Agriculture provided him with an annual income of about Rs. 10,000.
Based on his personal experience, he discovered that farming was not for profit. This convinced Sahoo to take training at the company based in Bhubaneswar. Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, which is about 10 kms from his village.
Sahoo acquired a panchayat pond in his village and started fish farming. âI applied and got a three-year lease for 12,300 rupees. I visited the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, interacted with the scientists there and I learned how to make fish farming profitable. “
âThe scientists explained to me that if I listened to their suggestions, I could get back all the money I invested,â he told Mongabay-India.
In one year, Sahoo earned around 24,000 rupees from fish farming, which recovered initial rental and overhead costs.
He diligently followed the instructions and suggestions of scientists to provide adequate food for fish, remove predatory species from the pond, and protect the pond to prevent stealth.
The septuagenarian, meanwhile, was raising fish at a time when improved transportation and other complementary support systems were not available. âAt the time, we were transporting the fish to the market in aluminum boats, which resulted in the death of many fish,â he explained. âThere were lousy roads, no oxygen cylinder supplies or better conservation methods, which could have reduced our losses. So under these circumstances, I myself jumped on the spawning growth train, instead of relying on the market.
âScientists from the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture and Krishi Vigyan Kendra introduced me to spawning production with hapa technology (using fixed nets in ponds),â Sahoo said. “With the help of growth promoters, we can produce egg seeds early and make it a more profitable business than fish farming in ponds.”
The fish farmer experimented with this in the late 1980s, releasing four lakhs into the pond from the fish eggs and earning Rs. 7000 in two months, which piqued his interest and encouraged him to experiment more.
Transform barren lands
Sahoo started fish farming in five ponds with loans from the Odisha State Government in the late 1980s. “Later, I replaced my irrigated land with barren land from some members of the local community. paying the same price to make sure I could use these areas to establish ponds for spawning production, âSahoo explained.
“With this I was able to produce almost four acres of land for spawning production. I received four more acres of property through the same exchange offer in 1994 and built a total of eight ponds. . “
He continued to use ponds to produce spawns with the hapa technique until 1997 and then turned to circular artificial hatcheries (Chinese hatcheries) to provide better control of the body of water where fish and eggs are supported.
His village in Khurda district, about 60 km from the Bay of Bengal in Puri, was prone to natural disasters such as cyclones and had previously encountered cyclones. During Cyclone Fani in 2019, Sahoo also lost around four quintals of fish due to the devastation of the cyclone.
âI started building circular hatcheries in 1998,â he said. Because of the rain, strong winds, and predators, you don’t have much control over business in the ponds. So since then I have been using circular hatcheries to protect fish and minimize losses. “
Several years later, thanks to the persistent efforts of Sahoo and his family, he now has 22 ponds in his block, where spawning production works on 10 different fish species such as rohu, catla, mrigal and some fish. ornamental. However, the spawning of edible varieties of fish is in great demand.
After proving his virtues as a rural entrepreneur, Sahoo has also offered training programs for future fish farmers and rural entrepreneurs in recent years.
Each year, it trains around 1,000 fish farmers with live demonstrations on how to provide growth-stimulating injections to fish, taking care of hatcheries and other techniques. He was declared a resource person at the Central Institute for Freshwater Aquaculture, where he mentors other fish farmers, rural entrepreneurs and fisheries scientists.