Let’s Cultivate Fish!

By Petrus Kanisius, GPOCP Environmental Education Communication Officer
The goal of our Sustainable Livelihoods program is to work with individuals who may be causing harm to the environment through illegal logging or land clearing, and help them find a different way to provide for their families. With a mutual commitment, GPOCP and these local villagers work together to educate, inform, and identify sustainable livelihood opportunities. We work one-on-one with them to build their capacity to create income that does not damage the environment.
Local participants during the lecture session of the Aquaculture course offered by GPOCP.
Last year, our Sustainable Livelihoods team held discussions with individual fish farmers within the buffer zone of Gunung Palung National Park. Aquaculture, also known as fish farming, is an activity that GPOCP started with local farmers about 3 years ago. This sustainable livelihood activity enables local people to raise fish in ponds they build on their own land. These fish provide a ready source of protein for the family as well as cash income through selling in local markets.
We have been monitoring their progress but were getting reports that they were having a tough time. We found that these villagers were interested in learning more about aquaculture, especially about breeding and the fish life cycle. They had noticed that some of their fish were breeding on their own but they didn’t know what to do with the tiny baby fish. We also learned that the farmers were having a hard time finding a viable market. From these focus group discussions, GPOCP decided to host an intensive aquaculture training course where we could answer all of their questions and connect them to a routine market or buyer.
The participants learning how to tell the difference between male and female tilapia.
In early July, we invited aquaculture expert, Samson Tarigan, from the Lake Toba region of Sumatra to guide our workshop and assist our farmers. For three days the farmers received classroom lectures, hands on experience, and learned how to build and maintain their own fish ponds. Our workshop focused on two types of fish; catfish and tilapia, both very delicious and popular food items. We had participants from local villages, the local fisheries department, and our own GPOCP staff.
Participants learning about water quality and pond maintenance to grow healthy fish.
Overall, the workshop was a great success. Each participant now has the tools necessary to implement their own fish farms. We had eight farmers commit to building their own fish ponds at home. The local fisheries department agreed to help answer any questions the farmers may have in the future. GPOCP will also help answer any questions and will also assist the farmers in obtaining seedlings, or baby fish, to continue their aquaculture success. We also connected the farmers with local restaurants and markets so they will have routine buyers during harvest time. GPOCP is looking forward to the achievements these farmers will have following this workshop!