Economy, Domestic Economy

Integrated Farming: A Rewarding Investment

Integrated Farming: A Rewarding InvestmentIntegrated Farming: A Rewarding Investment

Integrated systems have opened up new vistas for fish farming in regions with limited water resources such as Iran’s South Khorasan Province.

Integrated fish farming systems refer to the production, management and comprehensive use of aquaculture, agriculture and livestock. It can reduce costs on fertilizers and feeds in fish culture and maximize benefits.  

Vahid Hajizadeh, a farmer who ventured into aquaculture 10 years ago, said agriculture integrated with fish farming is more profitable than raising chicken for meat or eggs or even beekeeping, Mehr News Agency reported.

Hajizadeh viewed lack of working capital and high costs of transportation as the main problems facing fish farming.

“As we speak, we have to supply fingerlings from Arak and Mazandaran provinces, which raises the costs of production. Also, there is no cold fish feed producing factory in the province,” he said.

Referring to the high costs of pond construction, Hajizadeh said, “High interest loans will not help farmers. Officials should give money directly to the farmers or distribute fish feed and fingerlings instead of allocating budget for drought.”

Ahmad Reza Yusefi, a fish farmer who quit the business two years ago, says most producers have to grapple with economic problems.

“There is no market for our products in this province. We need to do marketing first,” he said.

According to the Fisheries Department of South Khorasan Agricultural Jihad Organization, the province produced 941 tons of fish such as trout, silver and common carp over the past Iranian year (ended March 20, 2015).

Fish farming or aquaculture involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosed pools, usually for food. They provide a source of food and income from the sale of fish for small farmers.

The farm pool is essentially a closed loop biological system. The plants feed off the nutrients supplied by fish and the fish feed off the plants and insect larvae like dragonflies, etc., and algae regulate the carbon dioxide/oxygen levels. The whole system increases the cultivation of higher quality agricultural products and decreases the use of chemical fertilizers and consequently does not cause environmental damage.

Income per weight of fish produced through this system is 15,000 rials (around 40 cents), compensating for the farmers’ extra costs.

Some farmers will recognize the benefits of integrating aquaculture into their farming system, while others may not feel that they can cope with the added workload, investment or more complex management.