According to The Hindu, a farmer from Ezhikkara in Kerala, who was trained on pond construction, nursery rearing, fish transportation, feeding, cage maintenance, etc., has readily agreed to try out this new system of farming in his field, which has been funded by the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA).
Pearlspot fishes, stocked in iron cages, were fed using floating formulated pellet feeds during morning and evening. Cages were cleaned fortnightly and nets were changed once every two months.
Within a period of eight months, the fishes were harvested and the farmer was able to get a good profit of Rs. 80,000 from the fishes alone. In addition he also earned an income of Rs. 50,000 from the paddy and shrimp.
"If implemented in a hectare a farmer can get anything from Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 85,000 from this cage culture of growing fishes in addition to paddy and shrimp that can fetch Rs. 50,000," said Dr Shinoj Subramannian, Programme Coordinator and Senior Scientist, KVK (Ernakulam) of CMFRI.
Pokkali fields are strewn across 5,000 hectares area in Ernakulam, Alappuzha, parts of Kottayam and Thrissur districts of Kerala.
Paddy is grown during June to October, requiring a 120-day maturity period, followed by shrimp farming during November to April.
Residue from the paddy crop forms the feed for the shrimps while the residue of the shrimp culture forms the fertiliser for the paddy.
According to Dr Subramannian: "It is a purely organic system and the paddy and prawn possess good taste since there are no chemical inputs used."
The size of a typical pokkali field ranges from two to 30 acres and each field is confined within bunds. There is a sluice gate for water movement to and from the field. The area inside the field adjacent to the sluice gate is called sluice pit or Thoombukuzhi in Malayalam.
In 2009, the Pokkali system of farming received a Geographical Indication (GI) certificate and an approved logo for its products. The Pokkali farming community also received the Plant Genome Community Saviour Award during 2010-2011.