Scientists of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA), a research wing of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), have shown that lands used for aquaculture can also be used to raise agriculture and horticulture crops.
RGCA officials, who were raising Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), a fish variety with Omega-3 fatty acid, at Manikonda village in Krishna district, were cultivating many horticulture and agriculture crops as inter-crops on the bunds in between the ponds.
MPEDA chairman K.S. Srinivas, who visited the Tilapia project at Manikonda, the only research wing of RGCA in the country, praised RGCA national project director S. Kandan and project officer in-charge B. Appala Naidu for using the pond water and fish excreta for raising agriculture and horticulture crops, which increase greenery and prevent pollution.
“There is a misconception that lands being used for aquaculture are unfit for agriculture and the water will pollute the neighbouring lands. But MPEDA and RGCA officials proved that aquaculture land is fit for horticulture, sericulture and agriculture,” Mr. Srinivas said.
Dr. Kandan said that the Assistant Project Managers of the RGCA project, P. Srinivas and Mathews, were raising tomatoes, chilli, brinjals, bottle gourd, black gram, beetroot, spinach and other leafy vegetables and flowers without using any pesticides.
“We supply water used in the fish ponds to the horticulture and agriculture crops being raised on the bunds, and are getting bumper yield,” said MPEDA Vijayawada Regional Centre Joint Director Y. Vijay Kumar.
Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Giriraj Singh, along with aqua farmers of different States, visited the RGCA project at Manikonda village and praised MPEDA officials for cultivating internal crops between the aqua ponds.
“We are utilising the vacant lands on the bunds and raising horticulture crops, pulses and leafy vegetables. Aqua farmers can use the similar practice at their ponds and avoid wastage of land and prevent pollution,” the MPEDA chairman told The Hindu.
Mr. Appala Naidu said that on knowing about cultivation of internal crops in aqua ponds, students from different universities across the country are visiting the project.