Rice-fish farming is done for a variety of reasons throughout Indonesia. It’s said that some fish will eat the pests found in paddy fields like the brown planthopper (BPH) – one of the rice farmers’ most dreaded enemies. Also, fish excrement can be a valuable source of nutrients, which can achieve a double harvest of fish and rice if done correctly.
One netizen said that he started eating rice flounder when he was very young because his family was poor. His mother bought rice flounder because it was cheaper than the carp found in rivers and streams. Despite the rice flounder usually, a lot smaller having less meat and smelling fishier than most due to living in muddy waters, it still provided food on the table.
Rice-fish is an integrated farming system dating back to some 2000 plus years which providing farm families with another source of animal protein along with rice and vegetables. Originally, wild fish bred naturally in the rice fields and were harvested by fishermen.
Over time, a variety of husbandry techniques evolved in many countries within Asia. But with increased population pressure, the advent of “high-yielding” rice varieties, and the consequent emphasis of governments and researchers on high input rice monoculture, these traditional technologies have often been left behind because they often lead to plant pathogens and diseases. This happens when farmers reuse the exact same soil, instead of rotating three or four different crops following a pre-determined cycle.
In particular, the heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, most of which are toxic to fish, has made fish culture impractical in many rice farming situations. Many farm families have been deprived of this important source of nutrition – one not recognized by research planners in the past.
In the past decade, considerable interest in rice-fish has arisen among researchers and, more important, farmers, as the pressure on farm ESOUK~S has increased. The need for more efficient and more sustainable farming systems has led to a variety of rice-fish farming systems in almost all countries of the Asian region.
Many research institutions and donor agencies are recognizing the importance of this development, and a number of important research activities are underway, in farmers’ fields and on research stations.
For example, the Sukamandi Research Institute for Food Crops and the Indonesian Research Institute for Freshwater Fisheries are collaborating in an IDRC-sponsored project begun in 1987. The aim of the project is to raise the visibility of rice-fish farming to Indonesian farmers and government policymakers alike.
The research has on-station components, attempting to understand ecological and other interactions of rice-fish systems, and experiments in actual producing farms to understand and adapt to the real constraints and opportunities faced by farmers.
To begin a rice-fish operation, the farmer digs a small pond or trench about 0.5-l meter deep in a low-lying area of the rice field, to act as a deeper water “refuge” for the fish. The excavated soil is used to raise the “bunds” or banks of the field to ensure good water control (and in the process creating a raised area above flood level, often suitable for planting other crops like vegetables and fruit trees).
When the field is flooded by irrigation water (or by rains, as in Northeast Thailand) rice is planted as usual. Soon after, however, small fish fingerlings are introduced.
In Indonesia, the most frequently used fish is the common carp and other local carps, but tilapia, catfish, and several other species are commonly found in rice-fish farms.
After a short period of up to 3 weeks, during which the rice plants become well established, the fish are let out of the refuge and allowed to forage through the rice fields. At harvest time, or if the fish must be temporarily removed while some potentially toxic chemical is applied to the field, the water is drained down and the fish are collected from the refuge.
This simultaneous culture of fish in rice fields is called mina padi (dari mina = “ikan” dan padi) in Indonesia and is the most interesting from a potential productivity point of view.
Rotational (“palawidja ikan”) and sequential (“ikan penyalang”) systems of rice-fish intercropping are also found. The synergistic effects of rice and fish in the same field exemplify the advantages of an integrated approach to farming. One of the key benefits, in this case, is that fish recycle nutrients through feeding and depositing their fees in the submerged soil.
Initial research results indicate that uptake of important nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen by the rice plants is significantly improved, in comparison with rice monoculture. Dr. Achmad Fagi, the leader of the Indonesian project, found that “rice-fish culture with common carp actually increased the yields of commonly used rice varieties.” Farmers can in many cases get better rice yields plus additional food and cash income in the form of fish.
From seedlings to maturity, rice needs different amounts of water. But At the same time, the depth of the water can’t raise big fish. After grouting, the paddy field needs to be drained to wait for a long period of maturity. Otherwise, the bottom of the rice stalk will rot and fall down, resulting in a reduction in production or even a halt. Therefore, unless people dig deep trenches, growing rice would be meaningless. Not to mention pesticides and fertilizers.
Rice-fish farming has a long history in Indonesia. In general, farmers have developed systems that are now used. The widely practiced rice-fish systems in irrigated areas of West Java are minapadi, penyelang and fish palawija. A special system called sawah tambak also exists in the coastal areas of East Java.
Fish produced from ricefields are mostly seed-fish for restocking in grow-out systems, such as floating net and bamboo cages, running water (concrete tanks), and irrigation canal systems.
In this system, rice and fish are concurrently raised in the same area. A trench refuge (0.5 m wide and 0.3-0.4 m deep) is used. The payaman method is another kind of Minna Padi system. The difference is that the rice-fish field is connected to a pond refuge instead of a trench.
Rice varieties that are proven to give high yields with fish during the wet season such as IR 64 and during dry season such as Ciliwung are planted. Planting distance in a thoroughly prepared plot is 20 x 20 cm, 22 x 22 cm or 25 x 25 cm. In West Java, fertilizers used (and their rates of application in kg/ha) are: urea, 200; triplesuperphosphate,100; potassium chloride, 100; and ammonium sulphate, 50. Water level is kept low during the tillering stage of rice. It is gradually raised to 10-15 cm throughout the rice growth period.
Common carp weighing 15-25 g are stocked in the ricefield at 2 500-3 000/ha 7-10 days after rice transplanting. A center or cross-trench occupies about 2 percent of the total ricefield area. Harvesting is done by draining the field slowly after a culture period of 40-60 days. Within this period, the fish attain 50-100 g, the size desired for stocking cages and running water culture systems.
This is the culture of fish in between the first and second rice crops. The fish culture period is shorter than in palawija system. A portion of the ricefield with rice stubbles is immediately stocked with common carp, while preparing the remaining portion to the dry season rice crop.
Stocking size varies: 5-8 or 8-12 cm or 15-25 g, depending on availability. Stocking rate is 2 000-4 000/ha. Water depth is 10-20 cm. Fish are harvested after 30-40 days. This short period may not produce the desired size for growout in cages and running water systems, especially if stocked small. However, growout operators also buy small fish seeds if supply is scarce. The unsold small fish are restocked in the following dry season rice crop cycle.
|Penyelang system||Raising dikes after dry season rice|
crop for palawija ikan system
Palawija ikan system
Immediately after the harvest of the dry season rice crop, dikes are raised by using a hoe, to contain water depth of 30-40 cm. The stocking size and rate vary. In West Java, common fish carp of size 3-5 or 5-8 cm are stocked at 5 000/ha without feeding. In North Sumatra, consumption size is produced in the palawija system. The usual common carp sizes stocked are 30-50 g or 50-100 g at the rate of 1 000- 1 500 (no feeding); and 1 500-3 000 (with supplemental feeding). Supplemental feeds are rice bran, chopped cassava, corn kernel soaked in water, poultry feed, kitchen refuse and others. Harvesting the fish is done by draining the field.
Fish stocking and production data
The above systems are combined into sequential cropping patterns in a year such as:
In the last pattern, ducks are allowed to roam in the ricefield 25-30 days after transplanting the rice. Ducks have potential for controlling golden snail (Pomacea spp.) infestation on rice at a density of 25 ducks/ha. The ducks have a small refuge pond where they are kept when necessary.
The addition of ducks in the last pattern made it the most profitable pattern. The year-round supply of eggs provides monthly income to a farmer. In the absence of ducks, the minapadi-penyelang-minapadi-palawija pattern is the most profitable.
|(rice+fish)||(fish only)||(rice+fish)||(fish only)|
|Issues for further consideration For the system described, potential users may need to obtain local information about the relative importance of different markets for fish seed, and the quantity and schedules these are needed. The practice is concentrated in West Java. Wealth ranking of the types of farmers involved (previously and present-day), as well as the inputs provided by and the access to benefits by different household members, would provide useful information for further applications. Also of interest are the local variations in the relative value of fish and rice, in comparison to the situation in West Java by the main system type. Economics of the systems should be evaluated based on local trials, considering local species needs, costs, and returns. Generally, the system may find a successful application where there is adequate demand for fingerlings. Additionally, the system can bring with it employment opportunities for women, particularly in fish seed rearing, as it ensures a quick return on their labor, cash, and material investment.|
Sawah tambak rice-fish system in Indonesia
Literally, sawah tambak means ricefield pond (brackishwater). However, this term refers here to the 12 152 ha rice-fish farm area in East Java that involves 15 000 households. Depending on the depth of floodwater in each area, and fish or rice culture intensity, the sawah tambak rice-fish systems can be classified as follows:
1. Concurrent rice-fish system during wet season: appropriate in areas where inundation and the risk against submergence of rice is low. On the other hand, water is not sufficient to support a dry season rice crop.
2. Concurrent rice-fish (wet season) followed by dry season rice: done in areas where standing water is not so deep and water is sufficient to support dry season rice crop.
3. Fish culture (no rice) in wet season followed by dry season rice: appropriate in areas where flooding is deep.
4. Fish culture throughout: done in areas where farmers prefer to raise fish instead of rice in the entire flood season.
Fish species grown are a combination of milkfish (Chanos chanos) and tawes or silver barb. Common carp is also added if available.
Operation of the sawah tambak system
1. Peripheral dike. This is built by excavating the inner peripheral canal of the field. Base width: 4-5 m; top width: 2-2.2 m; height: 1.4-1.8 m.
2. Peripheral canal/trench. This serves as a fish refuge, nursery, holding/transition place, catching canal and source of water for dry season rice. Bottom width: 2-4 m; top width: 2.8-3.2 m; depth: 0.3-0.7 m.
3. Ricefleld area. The area used for planting rice is surrounded by a temporary bund 0.5 m high. This retains the water required by rice for its growth. The bund is also needed especially in concurrent rice-fish system.
Water comes from rainfall or seepage. Thus, there is no need to provide water inlet or outlet gates. When it is necessary to reduce or add water, pumping or bailing it out by traditional method is used.
Prevention of fish escape during floods
Farmers have ready grasses, plant leaves, and similar materials to spread on top of dikes when floods overtop dikes.
Preparation of ricefield area
The ricefield enclosed by the dikes is prepared just like an ordinary one. Land preparation begins in September just before the onset of the rainy season, either by the dry or wet methods.
Nursery/holding and transition areas
These are constructed in the peripheral canal. The nursery is 10 m long, 5 m wide and 0.75 m deep. Water filling from outside is done through pumping or by traditional bailing method. Fry stocking is done 2-3 days after water filling.
Oftentimes, prior to stocking fish in the entire sawah tambak, the milkfish and tawes fry are cultured separately in a nursery/holding corner in the peripheral canal. The milkfish (stocking rate: 500 m²) are raised here up to 45-60 days. The tawes (220 m²) are kept at the holding place (with about 50 m² water depth) for one month before releasing them into the field.
Organic (compost, animal manure, green aquatic plants, etc.) and inorganic (urea and triple superphosphate) fertilizers are applied. The application rates (int/ha/year) are:
|Green aquatic plants||2-5|
Urea is applied at the rate of 100-150 kg/ha/year and triple superphosphate is at 300-450 kg/ha/year.
The total amount of urea and triple superphosphate is divided into three equal parts and applied thrice. As an example, the first application is a mixture of 25-50 kg/ha urea and 100-150 kg/ha triple superphosphate.
Culture management and harvesting
Stocking sizes and rates per hectare are as follows:
Culture period is 4-7 months, depending on the available standing water. In areas with deep water, the culture period extends to one year. Stocking of fish can be done more than once. Harvesting is done twice or thrice. With no feeding, the yield is about 2 000-3 500 kg/ha.
|Issues for further consideration In considering if the method is useful to adopt, other occupations of the farmers, aside from rice-fish farming, will be essential information. How important is this part of their livelihood system? This can be accessed through comparative economic resource analysis. Farmers will want to know what benefits the addition of the fish component brings, in comparison to rice culture alone. Of further interest is the access to benefits from the system within households. The risk of floods and the possible escapes of fish should be assessed. How effective and costly are simple methods against this risk? In rearing fish during the initial period of 6-8 weeks, more detailed information will be necessary to ensure success, also with respect to manuring and feeding schedules. The salinity ranges in the targeted area will have an influence on the choice of species and management decisions.|
Like rice? https://www.halobule.com/rice-fields-in-the-water/
New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.