4.58 acres, it’s the piece of land that Jai Singh Murmu (50) has always banked upon. But, the family inherited farmland has not always been kind to this tribal farmer of East Singhbhum’s Sungdi village. In 2007, the land did not support enough crop yields, and Murmu miserably failed to garner money for the treatment of his ailing wife, who eventually died.
It’s 2016, and Murmu still relies on the same 4.58 acres. Today, the land never disappoints him and gives much more than what he expects. Wondering about the turnaround? The answer to it lies in a pond, which Murmu got excavated at an expense of around ₹10,000.
Measuring 200×100 sq. ft., the pond is used by Murmu for raising fish, which is proving much profitable than his generations-old venture of paddy cultivation. “The pond has addressed my financial concerns quite well,” shares Murmu. A long pause follows, probably for some mental maths, and he throws up the figure to back his claim, “It was a mere investment of ₹2,000 over a year ago, and I have already made ₹50,000 from it in a year.”
It may sound nothing less than hitting a jackpot, but Murmu is just highlighting the profitable margins pisciculture is known for.
Murmu’s recent earnings out of the land get reflected in his lifestyle. A gleaming motorbike awaits him at his doorstep. Cold water from a refrigerator greets him after a tiring day. “Both (fridge and bike) are barely two months old,” giggles the class 12 dropout, whose daughter is pursuing MA and son BA.
“Spawn and some fish breeding medicines were bought in ₹2,000. Fingerlings and small-sized fish that I got from spawn were sold for ₹50,000 in phases,” explains Murmu, adding in the same breath, “There’s still at least 3 quintals of fish in the pond. It would fetch close to another ₹40,000.”
Wait, Murmu’s pond economics is yet not over. Earlier left to the mercy of rain gods for paddy cultivation, Murmu is getting more out of the pond, thanks to the creeper veggies and arhar he grows along the banks of the water body. The bottle gourds and arhar he recently sold fetched him another ₹16,000.
Some quick movements of his fingers and Murmu gets lost in thought, again for some calculations that are going in his mind. He resumes the conversation, this time smilingly, “So, all put together, it would come to over ₹1 lakh.”
Interestingly, this income has come from only 10% share of Murmu’s total land—the share given to the pond—and is much more than his annual paddy benefits. “When rains didn’t play truant, I used to have an annual income of ₹70,000 through paddy,” he adds.
Paddy still covers a majority of his land. Earlier, it was cultivated traditionally, but now he follows SRI for the same. With a pond at his disposal, he no longer has to worry about irrigating the paddy field. Nearby farmers, which Murmu put to five, too, fetch use pond for irrigating their fields.