Rice-fish farming: Opportunity to increase rice productivity & income: Pinkey K. Mandal

Author: Pinkey Kumari Mandal
BSc. Ag scholar
IAAS Pakhlihawa

Introduction :

It has been found that addition of fish in rice fields increases productivity and also helps to achieve ecological, economical and social benefits for the farmers. Rice- fish farming could be one of the best options to develop ecological agriculture, which attributes to an environment friendly farming system for increased productivity by recycling the energy and matter of a given ecosystem. Fish plays an  important role to increase the productivity through natural resource mobilization of the rice field.

Here, irrigated rice fields possess high possibilities for fish cultivation. Fish can be cultivated as an intermediate crop which can help to increase the field productivity. As rice is the most favourable staple food in Nepalese society, it is cultivated in almost from terai to hilly region.

But in hill regions or in rain fed areas, rain fed farming or rice cultivation is done where fish farming is not possible. But in the terai region it is favourable and adoptable. Fish can be introduced in the rice field. In Nepalese context it is a new approach to farming but it is beneficial as it increases productivity as well as income . Double benefits can be earned from the same field.

Practices in rice-fish farming:

Site selection:

The  site selection for the rice -fish farming is a low lying area where water flows easily and available at any time in need.

Soil quality:

The soil of the paddy field should be fertile, rich in organic manure and have high water holding capacity. Usually medium textured soils like silty clay or silty clay loam are most suitable for rice-fish farming.

Bund preparation:

The plots selected for rice -fish culture are normally prepared in the month of February by raising their embankment all along the plots . The rice field are suitable for fish culture at the areas because of strong bund, which prevent leakage of water for retain water upto desired depth and also guarded the escape of cultivated fishes during the floods

Field leveling:

After the completion of bund construction the base is leveled with the help of spade and locally made wooden plates. Manual weeding is done during the month of February followed by construction of an irrigated channel for easy passage , storage and draining of water. However, the stocking of fish seed is done after 10-15days of transplantation of rice seedling from its nursery bed.

Rice – varieties:

Mansuli, Sabitri, Janaki and Radha-4 varieties of rice can be used for their suitability in rice-fish farming. Mansuli rice is one of the first popular Japonica to be introduced in mid and foothills of Nepal. The selection of rice cultivars by farmers may depend on their socioeconomics, water availability and land topography. In general, dwarf rice cultivars resistant to high water levels are considered for rice -fish farming.

Flooding and weeding of rice fields:

The rice field should be flooded after transplanting. Care should be taken to keep the water level of a minimum of 5cm to allow proper filtering therefore, the water level should be kept at 30-50cm deep, until the rice matures. The weed control measures should be adopted by manual method by uprooting the weeds and it should be carried out twice or thrice in a week. Chemical methods of weed control should be avoided as it can cause mortality of fishes.



The fish culture for the period of 3-4months in rice fields ,a production of 200-300kg/ha can be achieved and while fish grows for the period of 5-6 months ; 400-500kg/ha yield can be achieved in the same season. Methodology used for harvesting , first the water is drained through outlet pipe ,and thus allowing fishes and water to accumulate in the mid channel of the paddy field, thereby the fishes are caught with the help of tasing Puda ,hand picking ,etc. After completion of fish harvesting the paddy harvesting can be done. The production can range from 3500-4500kg/ha from the same plot of land .


Fish harvested from the paddy field can be marketed at the local market alive or fresh condition because of high market demand . Live fish can cost Rs250-350/- per kg and fresh fish can cost Rs 100-150/- per kg.

Benefits and potentials:

  • Compared to many technologies, rice-fish culture is a low risk technology. It demands little money, which is not particularly new or revolutionary for most rice farmers.
  • Fish culture in rice fields provides farmers with a continuous and convenient supply of food.
  • Rice-fish culture conserves water.
  • It saves farmers time , allowing them to undertake income generating activities.
  • The fact that this technology can modestly improve the lives of many poor rice farmers.

Problems and limitations:

  • Rice-fish culture requires land . Landless farmers can have difficulties here unless they can make arrangements with the owner which can be mutually beneficial.
  • Production cannot be guaranteed especially in rain fed situations. Good water management is essential but not always possible.
  • Pesticides and other toxic chemicals can kill fishes and should be kept away from them.
  • Predators can seriously reduce fish stocks. Snakes and frogs can also be caught manually.
  • Thieves are perhaps the most difficult predators . Living near the field helps sometimes.


Rice-fish farming offers tremendous potential for food security and poverty alleviation in rural areas. Our government should give more emphasis on this sector. The use of fish in rice fields could substantially reduce abuse of insecticides on rice field and their bio- magnification effect on human health.

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