Women in Rajasthan are scripting a new story of self-reliance by setting up fisheries in Dholpur district.
Over 3,200 members of Basedi-based Saheli Kiran Mahila Sarvagin Vikas Sehkari Samiti — which works in nine gram panchayats and 53 villages in Dholpur — are all set to manage fisheries, a male-dominated trade so far.
The brain behind the idea is samiti secretary Guddan Devi. “There are many terrains in the districts where rain water accumulates and is available throughout the year. I shared the idea of setting up fisheries with other members of the group. It led to a flurry of questions on the type of fish, training, and marketing etc,” said the 35-year-old.
“We approached former district collector Abhay Kumar (who is at present working with the cooperative department). He was initially unsure of the plan. Looking at our confidence, he put us in touch with an NGO, who gave us the basic knowledge of the trade,” she said.
Samiti president Kamlesh kumari said that after understanding the basics, they planned to visit a place where women were already running fisheries. “We selected Ernakulam district in Kerala. There we interacted with technical experts and agencies related to market and marketing. The cost of rearing fish is anything between Re 1 and Rs 1.25, including the cost of seeds, which is 0.20 paisa. A fish is sold between Rs 5 and Rs 6. The information was encouraging and we decided to rent a pond,” she said.
Around 4km away from Sarmathura town, a pond was taken on lease for Rs 25,000 a year. “We divided the pond into two parts – nursery and main pond. The nursery area was slushy and the PH level was unsuitable for rearing fish. The members cleaned and treated the pond to maintain the required PH level,” Kamlesh said.
Guddan said that on the suggestion of experts and market demand, we seeded fishes such as rohu, katla, grass and naini. “The seeding process is progressing well in the nursery and soon we will be shifted them to the main pond. Come September, our fish will be sold at Janakpuri area in Delhi, Hyper City (Noida) and stores in Bhopal,” Kamlesh said.
District in-charge and principal secretary cooperative department Abhay Kumar said that this step shows the confidence these women have as this is the first time that women in Rajasthan have ventured into such a trade.
A month ago, the samiti started farming fish and was given a loan through Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikas Parishad.
He said that 50 more ponds have been selected, where water is available throughout the year. “Our main objectives are women’s empowerment and self-reliance. The women can carry out business worth Rs 1 crore annually,” said Kumar.
He said that the fisheries department has been directed to provide training and the women are being sent to West Bengal to gain more insight into the trade.