Small fish provide a rich source of nutrition, as well as income, for Bangladesh's rural farmers

In Bangladesh, there has been decline in the areas of inland water and inundation, drastically reducing the vital habitats for wild fish stocks. This has contributed to decreased fish harvest, in particular for small fish like mola, which the rural poor depend on for food and income.

“Our ponds used to be brimming with naturally grown mola fish even two years back, but recently these small fish have become rare,” says Julekha Bugem, a farmer from Nilgonj village, in Barguna.

Mola is a nutrient-rich small fish that provides essential nutrients, in particular, vitamin A, calcium, iron and zinc. Including mola as part of the diet can help those suffering from malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, especially pregnant and lactating women and children younger than two years of age.  Micronutrient deficiencies can lead to lasting damage in young children.

Due to raised awareness of its benefits for nutrition and health, mola has become a high-priced fish in urban markets and supermarkets. To address these issues, the USAID-funded Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition project promotes mola culture by providing training and brood stock to selected farmers. The program has distributed 2,637kg of mola broodstock for culture in 3,739 ponds.

“Now I am trained in mola culture and have received broodstock. After just four and a half months I have sold 4 kg mola and consumed 2 kg from my 5 decimal pond. Recently we have observed a lot more small size fish in the pond,” Julekha says.

As the popularity of mola is continuing to spread through the rural communities of Bangladesh, farmers are able to produce the nutrient-rich mola fish and also generate much-needed income.

10 July 2013

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