Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, covering an area of 144,000 km2 with a population of 164 million. Rice and fish have been an essential part of the life of Bangladeshi people from time immemorial. The staple foods of the people of Bangladesh are rice and fish. Rice is the foremost agricultural crop in Bangladesh with an annual production of over 29 million tons per annum, while annual fish production is 2.70 million tons.The demand for rice and fish is constantly increasing in Bangladesh with nearly three million people being added each year to the population of the country. Some 1.3 million people directly and 15 million people indirectly (BBS, 2008). The sub-sector contributes 4.39% of the GDP (BER, 2012). Nevertheless, integrated rice-fish farming offers a solution to this problem by contributing to food, income and nutrition. Not only the adequate supply of carbohydrate, but also the supply of animal protein is significant through rice-fish farming (Ahmed and Garnett, 2011).Integrated rice-fish production can optimize resource utilization through the complementary use of land and water. Integration of fish with rice farming improves diversification, intensification, productivity, profitability, and sustainability. However, rice-fish farming remains marginal in Bangladesh because of socioeconomic, environmental, technological, and institutional constraints (Ahmed and Garnett, 2011).
Many reports suggest that transformation of rice to fish farming is ecologically sound because fish improve soil fertility by increasing the availability of nitrogen and phosphorus. The feeding behavior of fish in rice fields causes aeration of the water. Integrated rice-fish farming is also being regarded as an important element of integrated pest management (IPM) in rice crops. Interactions of fish and rice also help lower production costs because insects and pests are consumed by the fish. On the other hand, rice fields provide fish with planktonic, periphytic and benthic food. Shading by rice plants also maintains the water temperature favorable to fish during the summer(Ahmed and Garnett, 2011).
Considering economic profitability of fish farming compared to cultivating rice or any other crops, farmers are converting their rice fields into pond for fish farming. In fact, the culture fisheries are making a significant contribution to the domestic availability of fish as well as export earning of the country. Production of pond fish culture has also been doubled in last decade (BER, 2006). Rice fields as natural fisheries are more important than as places where cultured fish are raised. Native fish species are favored over species which are generally cultured like the common carp, Nile tilapia and silver barb. Rice-fish culture can actually increase rice yields (up to 10% in some cases) while providing farmers with an important source of protein and extra income (IDRC, 2013). This transformation at farming raises a question to the researchers’ whether fish farming has any impact on household income or not (Rahmanet al., 2011).
However, this beneficial cultivation system was gradually abandoned due to population pressures, decreasing stocks of wild fish and the “Green Revolution” which emphasized high-input monoculture using high-yield rice varieties, pesticides, and herbicides which are toxic to fish (IDRC, 2013). The study of Sarker et al. (2006) reported that though fish farming is a raising sector in Bangladesh but it has some strong barriers as well as conflicts those are hindering its growth among which income from fish farming is very important. Conflict emerges when the interests of two or more parties clash. Under this condition, at least oneof the parties seeks to assert its interests at the expense of another party’s interests. It involves one group asserting its interests at the expense of another group. Conflicts between groups such as single rice producers, single fish producers and combined rice-fish producers emerge for a variety of reasons. It can arise as a function of socialstructure (the sociological perspective), as a function of power relations (the political perspective),or as a result of rational decision-making by an individual seeking to maximize his personal utilitygiven a pool of scarce resources (the economic perspective). The issue that often sparks off aconflict is the ‘perception’ that the one group is gaining (or in economic terms maximizing its utility)at the expense of another. The underlying reasons why conflict emerges, however, is often morecomplex.
The factors responsible for these conflicts need to be addressed properly to make particular farming more profitable that may only encourage more farmers on that type of farming. This research would be taken to identify the contribution of rice-fish farming on household income; its impact on household income which isone of the important objectives of the study and also the conflicts arises between rice and fish farming in Bangladesh.The aim of this study is to assess transformation of fish farming in rice fields as a competitive alternative to rice monoculture.
Scientific Scope of Research
(a) Research Objectives
The broad objective of the study is to examine the process, conflicts and impact of transforming paddy field into fish farming. The specific objectives are as follows:
i. To examine the process of transforming paddy field into fish culture in the selected areas of Mymensingh region.
ii. To document the geographic information system (GIS) based database of transforming paddy field into fish culture in the selected areas.
iii. To analyze the conflicts arise due to conversion of paddy field into fish farming between rice and fish production.
iv. To determine the profitability and distribution of income among the fish based alternative farming systems in the selected areas.
v. To identify and explain the constraints and opportunities of converting paddy field into fish farming.
vi. To suggest recommendations and provide policy guidelines for enhancing paddy into fish farming.
(b) Hypothesis of the Study
The following hypothesizes may be followed in conducting the proposed research:
i. There are no major variations in the process of transforming paddy field into fish culture in selected areas of Mymensingh district.
ii. There are no major differences between the geographic information systems of transforming paddy field into fish culture in selected areas of Mymensingh district.
iii. The profitability of rice-fish farming is greater than the profitability of individual rice or fish farming in selected areas of Mymensingh district.
(c) Tentative Technical Program/Methodology of the Study
The following rapid assessment approaches will be employed for gathering in-depth understanding and learning on the study:
Initial Selection of Study Areas and Samples: The study will be conducted in Mymensingh district of Bangladeshwhich is a key freshwater rice–fish producing districts. The former district would be chosen due to the prevalence and growth of fish culturing in permanent fishponds and anecdotal reports of disadoption and disinvestment in these ponds by poorer households due to high input costs, credit constraints, and risks associated with both production and markets (Day et al., 2012). Empirical data for the study will be collected from four Upazila ofMymensinghdistrict such as Muktagaccha, Fulbaria, Fulpur and Trishal.Lists of the rice farmers, fish farmers and combined rice-fish farmers within these Upazila will be collected from the concerned extension workers of the Department of Fisheries (DOF). From the lists, a total of 360 farmers will be randomly selected and interviewed. The selection of samples will be made following a simple random sampling procedure. Firstly, the total sample size will be divided into two categories. One category will consist of a sample of 180 farmers who will be the adopter of rice-fish farming system and the other 180 samples will be the non-adopters of rice-fish farming. The number of adopter and non-adopter farmers may vary from each of the district. Table 1 summarizes the distribution of the sample across the four Upazilas. Prior to data collection, a pilot survey will be undertaken to pre-test the questionnaire, targeting 10-20 farmers from the four Upazilas, who will not be in the interview list.
Table 1: Summary of Sample Size
Number of samples
Adopter of rice-fish farming
Non-adopter of rice-fish farming
Technique of Primary Data Collection
In this study, data will be collected from primary source. For primary data collection, individual interviews, field observations and other participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) tools such as focus group discussion (FGD), seasonal calendars, trend analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, etc. will be used. The researcher himself andfew trained data collectorswill collect the primary data from the selected farmers. Before data collection, the main objectives of the study would be clearly explained to each of the selected farmers and then will be asked the questions form interview schedule for collecting the required information. In addition, cross-check interviews will also be conducted with the key informants such as District and Upazila Fisheries Officers, relevant NGO workers and extension agents etc.
Technique of Secondary Data Collection
Secondary data will be gathered from various sources. First, data on rice and fish prices, rice–fish research efforts, and agricultural and fisheries policies will be collected from various government organizations in Bangladesh. Second, data on the economics of rice–fish systems in Bangladesh—profitability, sustainability, and other measures—will be extracted from an extensive literature review exercise. Also, different reports, journals, articles on rice-fish alternative farming will be followed for gathering more information to conduct the proposed study.
Besides the common statistical measures such as mean, standard deviation and percentage, a number of statistical tests will be performed to compare which type of farming is profitable for the farmers in terms of the farmer’s resource base. Ratio to moving average method will be applied for measuring the seasonal price variation of fishes. In accordance with the Rahmanet al., 2011, stepwise multiple regressions and multiple regression analysis will be done for drawing inferences about the following research questions:
· Is there any significant contribution of alternate rice-fish farming in household income of the practitioner farmers?
· If the answer is yes, then to what extent the alternate rice-fish farming is contributing on their household income?
· If the alternate rice-fish farming raise household income then what factors can influence the fish based alternate farming systems in the study area?
A factor analysis of the past, actual or future presence of the rice–fish system with variables related to economics of the farming systems and the farmers’ arguments for up-take or for non-adoption of the rice–fish system will be made by including the Boolean (0-1) value for, either the farmers had practiced the rice–fish systems in 2012, those would practice in 2014 or those considering to practice it for the future (2016).
To determine the impact of different independent variables on total household income of the respondents multipleregression analysis willbe usedwhich can be specified as:
Y = a+ b1X1 + b2X2 + b3X3 + b4X4 + b5X5 +b6X6+b7X7+e
Where, Y = Total annual income of the household
a = Constant term
X1 =Age of the respondent
X2 =Number of members in the family
X3 =Number of working persons in the family
X4 =Education level of the respondent
X5 = Size of the total cultivable land
X6 = Distance of the district headquarter market
X7 =Lengths of Katcha road from houses to the nearest highway
e = Error term
Activity budgets will also be calculated and statistical comparisons will be made. Activity budgets (Dillon and Hardaker, 1993) of the rice-cum-fish culture will be prepared using the following algebraic equation:
?J = per hectare net return or profit of the jth product (Tk/ha);
Yj = total quantities of the jth main product per hectare (kg/ha);
Pyj = per unit price of the jth main product (Tk/kg);
Bj = total quantities of the byproduct per hectare (kg/ha);
Pbj = per unit price of the by product (Tk/kg);
Xi = total quantities of inputs used for producing per hectare product;
Pxi = per unit price of the ith inputs;
FC = amount of fixed cost per hectare involved in producing the products;
j = 1 and 2 (Rice and Fish)
i = 1, 2, 3 …n (i.e., human labour, fertilizers, seed/seedlings, irrigation water, power tiller/draught, animal, etc.)
Apart from the profitability analysis,a profitability model will be developed. Undiscounted benefit-cost ratio (BCR) will be calculated for each of the farming system to identify which culture will be more profitable than monoculture rice in terms of the farmer’s and resource base.It will be calculated by dividing perhectare gross return by gross cost.
Literature on rice-fish conflicts will be divided between those that examine site-specific conflicts and those that review the theoretical aspects of conflicts. The former will provide detailed information regarding a particular scenario. Although many studies provide useful information on a specific location or issue, the results cannot necessarily be extrapolated with any ease or certainty to a wider context. Hence, these literatures will provide limited utility to the policy makers. The theoretical approach to the study of conflict will provide new frameworks that will be used to describe and analyze natural resource conflicts. This approach will include sociological, economic, econometric, technological and anthropological aspects as part of the analysis. In addition, there is a large body of literature that will see the emergence of conflict in natural resources context as the specific function of rising population and/or a decreasing resource base.
SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats) analysis will be done to identify the major constraints and opportunities of converting paddy field into fish farming. After analyzing the possible outcomes, policy recommendations will be provided from the study for enhancing paddy into fish farming.
d) Time frame
Tentative time schedule for PhD research will be as follows:
Lectures and seminars
Finalization of research proposal
Preparation of questionnaires
Preparation for interview
Interviewing the respondents
Collecting the secondary data
Tabulation and analysis of data
Modelling and interpretation of results
Writing the dissertation