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Fish & Rice farming

Combine the advantages of changing field format to include fish farming as an integrated nutrient and product source in traditional farming

Photo of Malcolm Green
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Traditional rice paddy style farming involves flooding a field, planting seedlings, growing , harvesting, drying the field, burning off the rice stubble and repeating the process. By changing the layout of the rice growing spaces to slightly raised banks, water is allowed to run freely in channels between rice growing spaces. Populating the water with suitable fish, particularly red talapia or Chinese carp, provides additional nutrients in the water from the fish excreta that boosts the growth rate and productivity of the rice crop. In addition, the fish provide another crop for the farmer. From traditional rice farming methods, this system changes little the farming work but results in 15% - 20% increased rice growth rate and a beneficial income increase to the farmer through fish sales. It is also much cleaner environmentally.


Productivity and financial benefits to often disadvantaged farmers through increased productivity and income.


Currently being implemented in central Vietnam and selected Mekong delta areas.


  • Yes


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


  • Yes, for more than one year.

While this is not a new idea, in Vietnam it is just starting to be accepted. By changing the rice paddy format to include defined or raised rice growing soil, the water surrounding these can grow fish. There is no real difference to the  actual water supply to the rice, but the fish provide additional nutrients to the rice through their excreta and provide another financial product crop for the farmers. Practical farming in this manner has shown that the benefit to  the rice crop creates 15%-20% more growth allowing an increase from typically 2 annual harvests to 3, plus the fish revenue can create another harvest at least twice per year. In addition there are significant side benefits in that the water  is cleaned by the fish and general environmental quality is improved. Fish consume insects and possibly reduce the need for insecticide spraying both reducing farming costs and producing a healthier, chemical reduced crop.


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Photo of Mburu Njunge

great idea on diversification  and  integration of enterprises. What warm water fish do you use? also how do you prevent entry of snakes and other predators 

Photo of Malcolm Green

Low-tech aquaponics involve the simultaneous cultivation of an aquatic species and plants in a system. There is a reduced need for fertilizer because the waste of the aquatic organisms are used by the plants as nutrients. This type of aquaponics has been historically implemented for thousand of years in China and other places that have large swampy tracts of land. The most commonly implemented one is a Tilapia-Azolla-Rice culture. Tilapia are one of the most efficient species of fish and can put on close to one pound of fish flesh per pound of fish food they eat; the Azolla is a floating aquatic macrophyte that acts as supplemental food to the fish. The rice can be harvested directly for human consumption. This solution requires investment in education; training the local farmers is the key to its successful implementation. The method holds particular promise where conventional agriculture is not viable due to the excess of swampland and lack of soil. Aquaponics eliminates the need for expensive fertilizers while reducing the environmental impact of growing fish, as the plants naturally filter the water as they take in nutrients.
In addition, growing fish using aquaponic systems requires less water and land than traditional methods of production.This solution will provide malnourished people with a source of protein, a nutrient that is crucially important for maintaining a healthy body, but is often unavailable to people in impoverished areas