Farmers in Maharashtra have found a winning combination to not only raise their income but also scale it up to double. In a state where paddy cultivation takes the mainstage and options are extremely confined for second crop, farmers have realized that cultivating fishes in their flooded fields and nearby ponds can better their incomes with a comparatively small investment, The Indian Express reported. "It was the local agriculture officer (at that time) who suggested that I try farming fish in the paddy field," Dulichand Patle, a farmer from the Bihiriya village of Gondia, told the newspaper. Originally a paddy grower, Dulichand Patle has managed to get a profit of Rs 3 lakh in just nine months from Rs 1 lakh investment on fingerlings (12-15 cm long fishes which are released as seeds for rearing).
Paddy is an important crop in the six districts of Maharashtra's Nagpur and crops grown in these districts amount to about 50% of the state's paddy production. As water is integral to paddy cultivation, fields remain flooded for eight to nine months and the same limits the opportunity for growing a second crop. Doubling farmers income by 2023 is also on Maharashtra government’s agenda and the government has hence been promoting the cultivation of fishes on paddy fields to augment farm incomes. To attract more farmers to build ponds for paddy cultivation and also raise fishes, state government provides an upfront monetary benefit of Rs 50,000. Maharashtra had seen the construction of 1.2 lakh such ponds by the end of last fiscal.
Farmers make investments chiefly in fingerlings, fish feed and labour to harvest. However, the returns are tremendous. For an investment of around Rs 1 lakh, net profit of Rs 3 lakh has been reported by farmers. "The best part of the deal is that traders come to our fields to weigh the fish and take it ... we don't even have to spend on transport," The Indian Express quoted Dhulichand Patle as saying.