Aquaculture-based production systems for the livelihood security of coastal farm families in the risk-prone agro-ecosystem of India: an appraisal

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Sundarban area of West Bengal State in India is a complex-diverse-risk prone agro-ecosystem grappled with degraded soil, water logging, brackish ground water, and marginal farm holdings. South west monsoon rain-fed paddy crop is the major production system, and the farm families have to migrate to other areas for employment during the post-monsoon season. Farm pond-based rainwater harvesting and optimally utilizing it to cultivate vegetables and rearing fish in the pond would provide them employment, income, and self-reliance on a sustainable basis which is the solution. Rainwater harvesting-based production system models, namely, land shaping for aqua-agri integration, brackishwater pond-based polyculture, and paddy-cum-fish farming, were implemented to 370 beneficiary families to enhance the livelihood security at Kakdwip and Namkhana blocks of South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. A set of 15 indicators were identified by the subject matter scientists to assess the outcome of the interventions in enhancing the livelihood security of farm families. Impact analysis was done using “before vs after” and "control vs treatment" research design. Primary data were collected from 120 proportionate random sample beneficiary farm families using a structured questionnaire and focus group meetings. The findings substantially indicated that all the three farming models have contributed for enhancing the livelihood security levels of the farm families in terms of creation of livelihood asset mainly the farm pond, conservation of natural water for multiple cropping and aquaculture, enhanced capabilities, employment generation, improved production from the land/pond, enhanced income from farming, access to better market price, access to development institutions, minimization of migration during off-season, enhanced self-reliant, and social status of the farm families. The analyses have confirmed that all the three farming models have significantly contributed for the livelihood security of the coastal farm families (p < 0.01). Therefore, the study suggested that the government may evolve a scheme with inbuilt subsidy in up-scaling these models in the entire Sundarban region for enhancing the livelihood security of farm families.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the cooperation rendered by the farm families, institutional partners, and colleagues in conducting this research.

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The funding support was provided as part of the National Agricultural Innovations Project (NAIP) by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi is greatly acknowledged.

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Correspondence to M. Kumaran.

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Kumaran, M., Ghoshal, T.K., De, D. et al. Aquaculture-based production systems for the livelihood security of coastal farm families in the risk-prone agro-ecosystem of India: an appraisal. Aquacult Int (2020) doi:10.1007/s10499-019-00495-y

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  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Aquaculture
  • Marginal families
  • Livelihood security
  • Agri-aqua integration
  • Farming systems research and extension