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Rice-fish integration is profitable

March 18, 2010


February 10, 2010, 2:55pm

Rice farmers can earn extra money by doing fish-farming in their ricefields.

Instead of fishing in rivers, they may opt to convert the lower portion of their ricefields into fishponds like what a farmer in Alicia, Isabela did.

Roberto Navarro of Barangay Paddad does this so-called rice-fish technology by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). He says that profit from his 1,700 square meter tilapia fishpond that used to be a mud pit is equivalent to an income from a 7,000 sq. m. rice land.

That’s because the stocks of this rice-fish technology demonstration cooperator of the BFAR Region II have reached 4 to 3 pieces a kilo. In fact some have weighed even half a kilo. At an average harvest weight of 250 grams, potential production is 1,806.25 kilos. This is worth a net income of P74,232 at A farmgate price of P70 per kilo.

The culture period, however, was extended a bit due to supply glut. But expenses were minimal due to the application of the 45-day delayed feeding technology, or the introduction of commercial feeds 45 days after pond stocking.

Likewise, Navarro does not feed his stocks when he observes abundance of algae, the natural food, in the pond. “I do not feed my stocks for a day if I observe greenish color in the pond,” he says. And to maintain the growth of algae, he places seven bags of chicken manure in the pond.

Navarro says the total feed consumption of his 8,500 size 17 tilapia fingerlings is only 60 bags. This is much lower than the standard feed consumption rate of 10 bags per 1,000 fingerlings.
His total expenditure on one hand is only P52,205.
Marlo Pagulayan of Peñablanca town in Cagayan also practices this technology. But the ulang and tilapia fishpond of this technology demonstration cooperator is on a slightly elevated portion of his rice land. He did so because he had problems leveling the said portion. “That’s why I decided to convert the area into a fishpond,” he says.

Like Navarro, Pagulayan uses pond water to irrigate his ricefield. And they have the same observation: rice plants became more vigorous as draining pond water into the ricefield enhances soil fertility.

“Researchers have proven that fertilizer cost on rice farming can be reduced by draining fishpond water into the ricefield. This is due to its high fertility. Fish produced, on one hand, serves as additional source of income and food for the farmer,” says Alexander Castañeda, ulang project leader of BFAR Region II.

So it was no surprise that Pagulayan was able to harvest 146 cavans of fresh palay from 0.9 hectare planted to a hybrid variety.
“Whereas before I can hardly get 120 cavans from a hectare planted to inbred variety,” he said.

So even if his harvest of 30 kilos ulang and 20 kilos tilapia from his 350 sq. m. fishpond is subpar given the high mortality incurred during transport of ulang seed stocks, his income with this technology is still better compared to that with rice farming only. This is due to the high market price and low production cost of ulang.

“I had no problem selling my ulang harvest at P400 a kilo at high-end restaurants in Tuguegarao City,” Pagulayan said.
Production cost, on one hand, was lessened as he fed his stocks with surplus vegetables and fruits, grated coconuts and bananas.

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