In March, FWI held two farmer training workshops for aquaculture farmers on fish health and welfare in the Nellore and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. We organized these workshops in collaboration with the state’s Department of Fisheries, National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Bhavi Aqua and Fish FPO. This article explores why we believe this is an essential part of our work on the ground.
Karthik Pulugurtha, FWI India Managing Director, addressing farmers attending an FWI workshop on Water Quality Management and Feed Management Practices.
The Training Workshops
FWI has been conducting monthly workshops to train farmers on Aquaculture Best Practices topics like disease prevention, feed and water quality management, and traceability. These workshops are also open to farmers who aren’t members of the Alliance of Responsible Aquaculture, and we hold them on-site as well as off-site. They have been instrumental in garnering farmer support for aquaculture practices that promote fish health and welfare.
Last month, our training sessions were conducted in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries in both districts, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Bhavi Aqua and Fish FPO.
We are excited to share that we found this type of collaboration to be beneficial to the farmers, who got the opportunity to interact with local authorities, voice their concerns, and have queries answered. In turn, the farmers in these regions are growingly receptive to our work safeguarding the welfare of farmed fish.
Farmer Balram Chowdary asking a question to the Assistant Director of Fisheries in Eluru.
What Do We Aim to Achieve Through Farmer Engagement?
While the primary purpose of our conducting events to engage and train farmers is to increase the efficiency of prioritizing fish welfare, there is more than one upside.
Uniting farmers can ensure their access to shared resources and knowledge; participation in Farmer Producer Organizations increases a farmer’s access to resources such as aquaculture equipment and processing units. We expect such unity amongst farmers to also promote traceability and welfare along the supply chain—from the producer to the procurer.
More upshots include the empowerment of farmers with knowledge of fish health, stable incomes for farmers, and the opportunity to network with critical stakeholders in the sector.
What does this mean for the Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture?
The FWI-led Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture also benefits from these training workshops. As more farmers learn about our work on the ARA, they are willing to make the required commitment to join our growing collective of 50 farmers, 1 corporation, and 1 NGO.
The promise of regular water quality tests for farmers operating under the guidelines of the ARA has its own appeal to these farmers—who otherwise relied on laboratory results that would take from hours to even days.
Our producer partners in the ARA have been able to better avoid low dissolved oxygen and toxicity cases and the disastrous losses following these issues. For more information on this, see our impact.
With these workshops, we were pleased to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and information. They have strengthened our belief that prioritizing fish welfare has the immense potential to improve farmer well-being and satisfaction.