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close this bookWorkshop to Produce an Information Kit on Farmer-proven. Integrated Agriculture-aquaculture Technologies (IIRR, 1992, 119 p.)
close this folderManagement for rice-fish
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSite selection: where to culture fish with rice'
View the documentPreparation of field for Rich - fish culture
View the documentStocking for rice-fish culture
View the documentFeeding and maintenance in rice-fish system
View the documentRice management in rice-fish culture
View the documentRice-fish benefits and problems
View the documentThe rice-fish ecosystem
View the documentFish as a component of integrated pest management (ipm) in rice production

Rice-fish benefits and problems

In discussing a technology with potential new entrants, it is important to acquire them with potential benefits and risks so that they can make as balanced a decision as possible as to whether or not to try out the technology. If they are not aware of the potential benefits, they may miss a chance to improve their standard of living. Ignorance of the risks can also lead to serious problems and reduce their self-reliance.


1. Rice-fish culture requires land. Landless farmers will have difficulties here unless they can make arrangements with the owner and seed arrangements must be mutually beneficial. Acquainting the owner with the benefits and problems associated with the technology will be important. The agreement should spell what part of production goes to the farmer and what goes to the owner. Will rent be increased? Will it be rearranged? Will all additional benefits from fish catches go to the farmer?

Can rice-fish culture on communal land be arranged for landless farmers?

2. Production cannot be guaranteed, especially in rainfed situations. Details follows:

· Good water management is essential but not always possible. Rain is not predictable nor controllable. Too much h water can IA lead to controllable Too much water can lead to flooding and escapes. Too little water inhibits growth and, in extreme cases, can kill fish. Fish cannot be cultured without water. (See other sheets on preparation of Field/Feeding and Maintenance.)

Good water management is essential

· Poor water quality can impede growth and cause death. This is rarely a problem in rice fields, but can be an issue in nurseries. (See sheet on Fry Nursing In Rice-Fish Systems.)

3. Pesticides and other toxic chemicals can kill fish and should be kept away from them. (See other sheets: Site Selection/Rice In Rice Fish Culture.)

Poor water quality can impede growth and cause death

4. Transport of seed fish and stocking should be carried out correctly. Seed fish are very vulnerable at these stages; carelessness can kill. (See other sheet on Stocking for Rice-Fish Culture.)

5. Predators can seriously reduce fish stocks. Food nursing can solve this problem to a large extent. Submerged snake traps of wire mesh can be used to drown snakes. Snakes and frogs can also be caught manually. Frog eggs should be removed when discovered and dried. Birds can sometimes be scared away.

6. Thieves are perhaps the most difficult predator to deter. Living near the field helps sometimes. Partly filling the pond with bamboo or other branches makes netting the fish difficult and submerged barbed wire will probably ruin any net it snags. Obstacles (rock or logs) placed on the dikes leading to the field makes access difficult at night. Watchdogs can also help.

7. Field preparation will demand a large investment of time and labor or money from the family. For poor farmers, labor availability often affects their ability to carry out the practice, limits the area they can prepare and affects the Intensity with which the system can be managed. Old and young couples with small children will be particularly challenged here. As a rule of thumb, a 1000-square-meter field will merely take more than ten eight-hour days to construct, it one person is doing the digging. A family with no time to feed the fish should stock lightly.

8. The farmer's managerial skills will increase in time. Many farmers succeed their first year, but many fail, as well. Failure among experienced farmers, however, is few.

9. Rice yields are occasionally reduced by rice-fish culture. This occurs most often when large fingerlings are stocked before the rice is well-established. The water in some fields as well may be deeper than desirable for some rice varieties. Sometimes, rice will lodge and fish will graze on the rice seeds.

10. Some farmers complain that wild fish catches are reduced in fields with cultured fish. Tilapia is most often indicated as the suspect. These farmers feel that cultured fish in large numbers can scare away wild species

11. Marketing problems can occur. A farmer can plan to keep his fish to sell when prices are high, but water shortages can force him to sell before this. Transporting fish to the market can also take time, especially when transport arrangements cannot be made beforehand. If a family plans to sell an important proportion of their catch: where, when and how will they sell it? Will this be easy?

12. Seed fish supply is a very common problem. A family may not always be able to get what it wants. Seed fish purchase usually occurs during transplanting season when demands for fish are high and farmers have little time and money.

Seed fish supply

In village where fish culture becomes widespread, the establishment of small hatcheries and nurseries deserves serious consideration. It is often advisable to encourage two or more interested villagers' who feel that they are in a position to manage such operations, if the local market is sufficient. This will keep one producer from monopolizing the market.


1. Compared to many technologies, rice-fish culture is low risk. It demands little money, is not particularly "new" or revolutionary for most rice farmers and involves few-conflicts with other farm activities.

2. Fish cultured in rice fields provide farmer with a continuous, predictable, convenient supply of food. Farmers accustomed to depending on uncertain, declining stocks of wild fish appreciate this.

3. Rice-fish culture saves farmers time and conserves water. This allows many farmers to begin other Income-earning activities or to improve on existing ones.

4. The small amounts of money needed mean that farmers need not take out loans. They, therefore, have many options as to how to use their fish: They can eat them, sell them, keep them alive (nature permitting), preserve them or give them away. They do not have to make quick sales to reduce debts.

5. Income from sales can provide useful money at various times. Some farmers can sell brood fish or seed fish, as well as table fish.

Pest control mechanisms

Fish feeding on newly hatched snails.

Fish feeding on dispersing stemborer larvae.

Fish feeding on hoppers that fall on the water surface. Fish may actively shake rice hills when nibbling on the stems.

Fish feeding on case worm larvae while floating on the water.

Fish feeding on floating sclerotia.

Weeds are controlled by direct feeding. Increased water turbidity and constant flooding.

Disturbed moths fly up and are preyed upon by birds or other predators.