Agroecological Co-Design Knowledge Exchange in Andhra Pradesh, India

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Authors: Ayan Samaddar, Research Associate, WorldFish-India, and Alok Sikka, Country Representative, IWMI India

Key highlights:

  • 11 APCNF representatives participated in an exposure visit programme to learn breeding and cultivation technology of Mola fish, selected to be a suitable biological model for agroecological intervention.

  • Mola seeds given to 21 APCNF’s integrated farming systems (IFS) to accelerate agroecological transition process through integrated rice fish farming system (IRFS).

The Integrated Rice Fish Farming System (IRFS) is popular in South and Southeast Asian countries. Promoting integrated rice-fish farming system is not only profitable but can also help with mitigation of climate changes, undernutrition, along with optimum land utilization (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119310). Rice and Fish can be produced together for making a healthy diet instead of producing rice as a monocrop. Mola / Amblypharyngodon mola is a popular micronutrient-rich small indigenous fish that grows well along with carps in ponds and rice fields.

WorldFish has developed a low-cost technology for cultivation of carps and mola in rice field connected pond ecosystems in Bangladesh to enhance production and productivity in a sustainable manner while simultaneously addressing the nutritional security of the local communities and additional income sources (https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12348/31). Under the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology similar kind of work has been initiated in partnership with the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming (APCNF) with an aim to create an impactful agroecological intervention, by introducing Mola fish in existing rice fish-based carp polyculture system.

Exposure visit of APCNF’s representatives.

WorldFish has offered technical support to ALLs, in collaboration with International Water Management Institute (IWMI), India. As an initial step of this initiative, total 11 numbers of participants including officers and farmers of the APCNF have joined a one-day exposure visit arranged by WorldFish-India under the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology. During the visit, participants visited the Mola breeding, seed production and cultivation unit at Jagatsinghpur, Odisha, which is supported by WorldFish, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Government of Odisha. The visit addressed the following objectives:

  • It helped APCNF officials to understand Mola production and cultivation techniques which has been selected as the new candidate fish for Integrated Rice Fish Farming System (IRFS).
  • This program acts as an awareness raising initiative to promote small indigenous fish species cultivation through APCNF’s agroecology friendly farming techniques.
  • Participants of this program are expected to share information to others, which will help us to foster rice fish farming in an agroecology friendly manner in India.

Provision of Mola seeds given to the farmers of APCNF.
“It’s inspiring to witness such an initiative, and our department is committed to offering support and assistance as needed. Mola holds great potential for natural farming, and we can further explore innovative fish-based integration utilizing our department’s resources in the future.”

Mr. Murali Krishna, Joint Director, East Godavari District, Department of Fisheries, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Following the exposure visit a general guideline was provided to the APCNF for demonstration of Mola based polyculture of Carp in some selective IFSs of APCNF, where feasibility assessments were already performed on random selection basis by WorldFish under the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology.

Mola seed distribution has been extended to farmers in West Godavari and five other districts in Andhra Pradesh. Notably, some farm owners have already taken part in our exposure visit program. The Mola seed distribution initiative was organized at the East Godavari District Fisheries Office, where officials from the APCNF and the State Fisheries Department conducted a motivational program to highlight the significance of rice-fish farming in agroecology.

Mola seed inoculation in IFSs by the farmers of APCNF.

These initiatives are significantly encouraging to both farmers and officials involved in APCNF and Department of Fisheries of Government of Andhra Pradesh to promote IRFS through natural farming under the framework of Agroecology. Scaling up strategies are also underway, with the Department of Fisheries planning to replicate similar natural farming processes for pisciculture in Andhra Pradesh. In addition, this program is fostering strong and cooperative relationship with the APCNF officials, IFS farmers and fisheries department officials of Andhra Pradesh. It is expected that such partnerships will contribute to the collaborative development of a rice-fish based agroecological model within APCNF’s Integrated Farming Systems.

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