“I had to rely on my husband’s money and also give him explanations for every penny I spent on household and other purposes. He doesn’t go fishing nowadays. So, whenever I got an opportunity to earn, I took up the challenge. Now I don’t have to account to anyone. I can spend my income as I wish. And I can also save for our future.”
Kalpana Biswas, a woman from one of the marginalized communities from Dumuria Upazila in Khulna, talks about her new dream of ensuring security for her family. Such is the dream of 12 women of a fishing village who are going ahead with training in fish farming.
Jele Para (a fishermen’s village) is now only in name. Men here no longer go to sea or river to catch fish. They do not have fishing nets and other necessary equipment, while the debt does not decrease even when fishing with Dadan (money taken in advance from traders). Running a family is difficult now. As a result, they are now engaged in various daily wage jobs.
On the other hand, the educated women of this fishing neighbourhood are now seeing the light of hope in fish farming in a group.
Community-based fish farming has started in some areas of Dumuria under the initiative of the Department of Fisheries, targeting underprivileged women. They have also been given the necessary training. Now these women are supporting their families to overcome economic hardship.
Swapna Rani, a fish farmer, said: “There are more than a thousand shrimp enclosures in Sholgatiya area, but with the inspiration of the fisheries office, this is the first time that we, the women of the area, have built an enclosure. I feel very happy.”
Sumati Biswas said:“I can go out of the house a little for this fish farming. I am learning it with a lot of hope.”
Under the “Community-Based Climate Resilient Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in Bangladesh” project, the DumuriaUpazila Fisheries Office took the initiative to train disadvantaged women in May this year. In that training, 12 women from Sholgatiya fishing village of Rudaghra Union were trained for four days. In the light of that training, they formed“Rudaghra Bagda Farmer CBO” association with 13 other men of the area.
Each of the women opened a bank account with Tk200 as monthly fee and Tk12,500 received from the training. Then he deposited a total of Tk45,000. Later in June, they took a lease of one acre of land on the banks of the Hari River for fish farming. At that time, the association was given a grant of Tk2,07,000 from the fisheries office. After preparing the land, they released 15,500 bagda (tiger prawn) and 20,800 golda (freshwater prawn), and various white fish larvae on June 20.
Bagdas worth Tk30,000 were sold from the farm recently. The project, being run under the supervision of women, has received a great response from the local people.
Mukta Biswas, president of RudaghraBagda Farmers CBO, said their project was progressing with the overall support of upazila fisheries office. “All our transactions are going through the bank. Hopefully, through this association, women in the area will go far with new dreams.”
Senior Upazila Fisheries Officer of Dumuria Abu Bakar Siddique said they had given the association the grant with the aim of creating social security for women. “A total of Tk3,24,000 will be given there.
“We’ve facilitated a freshwater shrimp farm in Orabuniyaarea of the upazila for the women. More such farms will be established in Akra, Nalghona and other areas.”
Former fisheries and livestock minister and Khulna-5 MP Narayan Chandra Chanda lauded the initiative as timely.
“Our women have come forward in fish farming; this is a very good sign. We eat fish every day, like the slogan ‘Machhe-Bhate Bengali’. Therefore, if the production of fish can be increased, the demand of the countrymen will be met, and foreign currency will be earned,” he told Dhaka Tribune.