Twice a day Rima Mazumder tends to her carp fry, giving them the proper amount of feed, testing their water quality and watching closely to make sure they’re swimming and moving properly around her family’s aquaculture pond.
“In the past our fish fry were dying. My husband and I didn't know how to manage the nursery pond... It was very difficult for us,” says the mother of three from Shahebermeth, in southern Bangladesh.
After attending eight training workshops in 2012 on aquaculture and horticulture practices, and one on fish nursery management, Rima is now a seasoned farmer, tending to her fish fry and vegetable garden with knowledge and skill.
“I learned how to take care of everything - how to apply fertilizer, how to feed the fish, how to prepare the pond and more,” she says. Rima and her family have two ponds near their home, one for raising fingerlings and another for growing mature fish.
In 2013, just under one year after her training, Rima and her husband produced 350kgs of carp fingerlings, which earned them a profit of BDT28,000 ($USD360) - more than double from the previous year. Despite eating most of the produce at home, her family also tripled their profit from vegetable farming.
“I tell everyone, “Come see how I do things, how I prepare the pond or feed the fish! So, many people came and stood around my pond to see what I was doing. They are inspired by my success,” - Rima Mazumder, fish farmer
Rima was one of more than 69,900 women from 397 unions who participated in the aquaculture training, and 94 who received nursery training, provided by the USAID-funded Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition (AIN) project, which aims to increase the productivity of aquaculture farms and improve the lives of millions through improved nutrition and income.
The AIN project is a five-year initiative that has, in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems and supported through improved fish seed and feed technology and value chain development under the Research Program on Livestock and Fish, trained more than 69,900 women and 57,200 men on good management practices for ghers, homestead ponds and commercial ponds since it began in 2011.
“Before the training we didn't know all these new techniques… Sometimes I scattered the leftover rice in the pond and you know that is not how you do fish farming! So, as a result our fry were not healthy or growing bigger,” she explains.
Life was difficult then for Rima and her family, who like more than 50% of the population in the region lived in poverty and could seldom afford a nutritious meal.
“With the little income we had in the family, we could not afford good food. We could have fish only every five or six days. So, we mostly lived on vegetables,” Rimasays.
Now we can have better quality food everyday. We have fish, meat and eggs every second day… We can have our own vegetables as food and sell them in the market,” she adds.
Rima believes that the changes she has brought to her family and the skills she has gained through the training have had a positive impact on her relationship with her husband.
“Before, he didn't listen to me that much. After the training, it changed. Now he values what I say… I gathered courage from the training, it made me more confident at home,” she says.
Living in a close-knit, rural community, Rima is determined to share what she has learned with her friends and neighbors.
“I tell everyone, “Come see how I do things, how I prepare the pond or feed the fish!” So, many people came and stood around my pond to see what I was doing. They are inspired by my success,” she says with a smile.