Out-of-job youths script a success story
Harinandhan Manoj had come to his home at Thamarakulam in Alappuzha from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a short holiday on March 9, 2020. He was scheduled to return to the Gulf nation two weeks later, where he was working in a hotel. Mr. Manoj could not fly back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and he became unemployed.
Around the same time, his relative Akhil Prakash, a safety engineer, was all set to fly to Singapore seeking a new pasture. His plans too were scuppered by the COVID-19-induced lockdown and restrictions. “I had resigned my job in a textile shop in Haripad ahead of my planned trip overseas by March-end. But things turned topsy turvy after the pandemic-triggered lockdown and travel restrictions. It was a difficult time as all of a sudden the income dried up. Then came the idea of fish farming,” says Mr. Prakash.
When the government relaxed lockdown restrictions last year, the duo was joined by four others—Sarath Raj (a gulf returnee), Anoop A. (a service manager in a private firm), Jaleel Khan, (a Judo player), and Visanth V. (an electrician)—to set up a fish farm using the biofloc method in the land of Prakash at Thamarakulam. “The youths started work on the pond and biofloc system in June 2020. By October, they brought 2,000 seeds of Tilapia (GIFT) and 1,200 seeds of Anabas from Chennai and Vijayawada. Six months later in April 2021, they scripted a success story in aquaculture by reaping a “good harvest” in the first season.
The group has harvested around 300 kg of Tilapia and 200 kg of Anabas, which they sold for a good price. They made a total investment of around ₹3 lakh. “The initial harvest was highly promising. We hope to make a profit from the second season onwards,” says Mr. Manoj.
As the State is currently under lockdown to tackle the spread of the second wave of COVID-19, they have already ordered fish seeds for the second season. “Seeds will arrive in 10 days. We plan to expand and involve more vigorously in aquaculture,” they say.
Apart from fish farming, members of the group also helped Manoj set up a poultry farm in the latter’s land.