Multi-farming provides sustainable livelihood to farmer in Puri

Pragati Prava

Not everyone is blessed with green fingers. But farming is in the blood of Biswanath Choudhury of Gadatorihan village under Badasiribila panchayat of Nimapara block in Puri district. After getting success in cultivation, he is now planning to build a fish pond on one acre of land that he owns close to his house. He has applied for a loan of Rs 14 lakh to develop the fish farm and it is in the last leg of approval.

The 55-year-old ardent farmer, who rears fish in his two small ponds, came to know from the Reliance Foundation Information Service (RFIS) that he is eligible for the bank loan and entitled to get 50% subsidy on it if he goes for fish farming. “I regularly called RFIS toll-free number to seek advice from experts on disease control and proper growth of fish in my small ponds. Seeing my interest in fish farming, the experts suggested me to develop a fish pond on a bigger land in size and avail the government assistance.”

Biswanath at his fish pond

The fish harvested from his two small ponds was enough for domestic consumption. Though he is yet to start fish farming on a commercial basis, he manages to earn nearly Rs 10,000 a year by selling the surplus fish. Instead of taking sweets, Biswanath carries a few kilograms of fish with him when he visits his friends and relatives. They also like the farm fresh fish. He has also planted betel nut, coconut trees, and grown vegetables on the bund.

“Fish farming can become a money-making proposition with the correct use of technology and experts’ guidance. It requires less manpower which is an advantage for a fish farmer. The fish farm only requires night watching to prevent theft,” says Biswanath.

Being a graduate, Biswanath could have managed to land a job in any agency but he opted for farming as he was keen to experiment with farming related activities. It is the RFIS that offered him all necessary information to carry his passion. He came across the executives of RFIS five-six year ago when he visited a fair at the Exhibition Ground in Bhubaneswar. Since then he has been in touch with the experts to get advice on agriculture regularly. “Two years ago, I lost 30 of my goats due to the outbreak of an unknown disease. Checking the deaths was a daunting task despite all precautions. Left with no option, I called RFIS toll-free number. Following the advice of the experts, I administered de-worming medicine and injections to improve the liver functioning of the goats. It worked and the rest of my goats survived the disease.  Now, I have 70 healthy goats.” The proud farmer, who has also 40 chickens, said I owe the good health of these birds to the RFIS. I follow experts’ advice on vaccination, food, and medicines to ensure that they remain disease-free and grow properly.

Biswanath also makes a good profit from the cultivation of paddy and local varieties of fruits and vegetables.

This apart, he is now into beekeeping thanks to the expert advice from RFIS. He has applied for a loan of Rs 4 lakh to maintain beehives and expand his apiculture business. He has adopted multi-farming.

Biswanath is also keen on mushroom cultivation. Apart from RFIS advice, the training he received from the horticulture department helped him a lot to adopt improved cultivation practices. It is from his farming activities, Biswanath meets all his family expenses, education expenditure of his daughter and has managed to construct a beautiful house for himself. In nutshell, he is earning well thanks to multi-farming.

The author is a climate and human interest storyteller.

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