Empowering women groups for aquaculture

Jan 5, 2010

Directorate of Research on Women in Agriculture (DRWA), formerly known as National Research Centre for Women in Agriculture, a constituent of ICAR, is a unique institution involved in gender related research in agriculture and allied areas. Conducting action researches on participatory mode to assess implications of technologies in women perspective has been a key activity of the Directorate. One important area that the institution has focused is technological empowerment of women to spearhead aquaculture development in coastal districts of Orissa. One successful case to mention here is technological empowerment of women groups in village Jaypur in Sakhigopal block of Puri district of Orissa that has transformed the lives of women.

Among many others, water bodies are an important resources base available in the village Jaypur. But unfortunately such resources remained unutilized for years. A pond of 1.5 ha area located at the centre of the village was the point of attraction as the pond was surrounded by habitation mostly belonging to scheduled caste families primarily involved wage labour. The poor water condition of the pond favoured growth of water hyacinth and several persons were reportedly suffering from diseases like filaria, skin diseases.

A scientific team of DRWA visited the village in 2007 and examined the condition of the pond. The team suggested and encouraged the villagers to practice integrated pisciculture in the pond, to which the women readily agreed. As there were five women SHGs in the vicinity, the team with help of local sarpanch persuaded all the groups to participate in the activity. Thus the groups were organized to form a Mahasangha consisting of total strength of 70 women. The required technical support including crucial inputs and trainings was provided by DRWA. As a result integrated pisciculture could be successfully practiced in the pond with involvement of five WSHGs namely Mahalaxmi, Pragati, Mahamaya, Saraswati and Khetrapali of the village.

Importantly the activities such as deweeding, cleaning the pond, liming and manuring, stocking of fingerlings, feeding and netting were done by the women groups. As the members belonged to working class they could do the entire range of activities themselves without depending on hired labour.

In first year the mahasangha practiced fish-cum-duck integration and obtained an income of 1.25 lakh from sale of fish, duck and eggs. In the second year, the women groups tried fish-cum-poultry and fish-cum-rabbit. As the area was affected by high flood, the groups could get an income of Rs0.75 lakh.

The experiment has clearly demonstrated that available water bodies can be productively utilized by women groups for their socio-economic development provided appropriate technologies are blended with viable institutional mechanism. The DRWA model involving research, panchayatiraj institutions and women groups was an example worth replicating in similar situations.

This is not the only case where DRWA has shown the way to women groups. In fact, during last 10 years, the research institution has worked in more than 35 villages of Puri, Cuttack and Khurda districts of orissa involving more than 750 women and disseminating aquaculture technologies to about 25 hectare water area. In the process, DRWA has introduced innovations such as creating fish fry production centres involving women   and developed an extension model to augment production of fry and fingerlings in rural areas.

(Source: PRO Unit/ICAR anil [dot] cproatgmail [dot] com)