Reading this Week: Still working on Arabian Nights. It might in fact take me 1001 days to finish.
This week has been pretty solidly spent on constructing fish ponds. This is exciting, because doing fish pond stuff is the whole reason I am here.
I am now up to two farmers in the active process of building fish ponds. The previous pond we staked is nearly completed, and we staked a second pond adjacent to the first:
In addition to those two ponds, we have staked another farmer’s first pond. The impetus for this work is that I am leaving for training soon, and although I will be back in a matter of weeks Farmer #1 there wanted to get the second pond staked. Farmer #2, I think, got jealous that Farmer #1 was barrelling towards fish farming that he wanted in on the action, which is a-okay as far as I am concerned.
Having multiple fish ponds per farmer is ideal, and having multiple farmers with multiple fish ponds is extremely beneficial. The fish we grow (usually, in this area, the Lake Tangynika Bream) generally have a six-month harvest cycle. Six months after fingerlings are stocked, full-sized fish are harvested and sold. If a farmer has six ponds, that means they can stagger stocking and harvesting times so that they harvest a pond every month throughout the year, providing a relatively steady stream of income.
Since most of these farmers rather tautologically farm, they receive a large chunk of income only about once a year when the fields are harvested. This leads to times with little money and potentially little food towards the end of the year before the fields are harvested again. One of the advantages of fish farming is therefore that fish can be stocked so that the farmer is making money all year, instead of just once.
Additionally, having several farmers nearby provides security when it comes to resources, and improves the overall quality of fish farming. Small rural farmers rely on restocking fingerlings produced by the fish stocked in the pond. If a pond fails to produce fingerlings, nearby farmers provide a potential source to get more fingerlings, as each pond will produce more fingerlings than can be restocked. Having multiple stocks also provides genetic diversity. Nearby farmers, when they work together, also learn from each other and share techniques so that fish farming is improved throughout a community.
So that’s been this week in fish farming. If I had been up to anything more exciting I would have talked about that, but every day this week has been spent with the farmers helping them make sure the ponds have been built correctly. We hope to fill them with water and begin fertilization soon, to develop a plankton bloom before stocking. Fish!
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