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Female fish farmers land International Women’s Day honours in India

Catfish / Pangasius Tilapia / Cichlids People +5 more

Two female fish farmers are due to be recognised for their entrepreneurial spirit by India's Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) today.

Smija MB has popularised cage farming among women in the Periyar region of India

Raji George and Smija MB are set to receive awards from CMFRI at a special event to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“In an exemplary model for women empowerment, both of them showed their grit to become successful entrepreneurs in the fisheries [aquaculture] sector. While Raji George from Angamali scripted the success story in integrated farming, Smija, an engineering diploma holder, who hails from Moothakunnam, chose cage fish farming as her profession,” explained the institute in a press release.

Smija established a cage fish farming unit in the Periyar with the technical guidance of the CMFRI. Gradually she expanded her farming into more cages by ensuring the participation of other women in her locality. Now, she is the leader of a self-help organisation named Periyar Activity Group. Her leadership helped her popularise cage farming technology in her area and she made a huge impact, with many women forming self-help groups and launching their own fish farms.

“Her initiative helped many families in the locality to find a regular income through cage fish farming. Apart from her farming activities, she also focused on providing training to a large number of women in her area compelling themselves to become small-scale entrepreneurs in cage farming,” said the institute.

Raji George established an eight-cage fish farm in an old quarry

Meanwhile George established a fish farm, named Anna Aqua Farm, in a defunct quarry near Angamaly, after receiving training from the CMFRI and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra. Operating eight cages, she farms GIFT tilapia, catla, catfish, rohu, mrigal and dam gold.

Apart from fish farming, she also runs Anna Agro Farm, which focuses on organic vegetable cultivation. In addition, she undertakes fodder cultivation, an incubator for chickens, quail, ducks, cows and goats.

“She also finds time to empower the housewives of the locality in poultry farming through experience sharing and disseminating technical information based on her experience. She strategically utilises social media platforms to find market for her produce and she made home deliveries too,” the institute notes.

CMFRI director Dr A Gopalakrishnan will honour the two women at the Women’s Day celebration, which is being held by the Women Cell of the institute. Actor Subi Suresh will be chief guest at the function, while Dr Miriam Paul Sreeram and Dr Sandhya Sukumaran will speak.