How to raise fish in the rice field

We earn about 5-6 million per season, so 10-12 million a year from raising fish.
Start Up Tips

We talked with Mr. Chankham, Namueng, Xamnuea District, Houaphan Province

1. How did you get the idea to start raising fish in your rice field?

A provincial official suggested it saying that raising fish in my field while continuing to grow rice would be the best use of my field. The fish would help to fertilize and maintain the soil quality while also providing my family with an additional income source as well as the nutritious, tasty ingredient for dishes like Pa Bum Jeow. 

2. What is rice field fish farming like on a day-to-day basis?

We raise pa feak and tilapia. The fish feed on damaged roots, rice leaves, and insects as well as fertilize the rice field. I do not need to spend a lot of time taking care of the fish. Between preparing the fields and harvesting them 4-5 months later, I only spend about 1-2 hours per day maintaining the field.
There are two seasons per year for harvesting the fish. The first is about two weeks after you plant the rice, and the second is about a month before the rice is ready to be harvested.

3.  What does one need to do to start a rice field fish business?

First, you need to have a suitable piece of land. The rice field should have enough water. It should be near a canal, or have another source of water throughout the year.

4. How much does it typically cost to get started?

My starting cost was about 3 million Kip. I spent most of that on fish fingerlings and the rest on hatchery equipment. You can either buy fingerlings from a shop or produce them yourself. We produce our fingerlings. It’s not difficult and it lessens the risk of them dying when they are released into the field.

5. How much income can you earn from this activity?

We sell the fish at the village and at a local market in Houaphan for about 50,000-60,000 Kip/kg. We earn about 5-6 million per season, so 10-12 million a year.

6. What are the biggest challenges of rice field fish farming?

We can’t expand our business and grow more fish, because we are limited by the size of our field. Also, our province is in the North, which means we have shorter summers and longer winters than other provinces.

7. What’s the best thing about raising fish in the rice field?

All the benefits that the fish offer! They fertilize and improve the soil in the field, and help to tackle weeds and pests. In short, the fish protect the rice field’s ecosystem. The fish are also an extra food source for us all year round, and we earn additional income from selling them.