ASIA · India
Turning a village into an aquarium!
Her teaching obligations at the university did not prevent Anna Mercy (56) from developing a highly original pioneering project to improve the living conditions of the village of Kumbala in the State of Kerala. After having studied the breeding of ornamental fish, for the first time ever in India she successfully developed a technology for raising 15 different species of ornamental fish in the Ghats region. She then decided to initiate rural women in the breeding of these fish.
Anna succeded in convincing the Department of Technology of her country to give her funds enabling her to offer a five-day training to 20 women, teaching them all the different aspects of this process, from the building of aquariums to the production of food for the fish. By 2009, 300 persons had been able to follow this training. Anna encourages participants to start breeding the fish in their own ponds and on their own terraces. One fifth of those who are trained establish aquariums in their own homes. Others have started building moulded glass tanks.
Now most participants in this experiment earn an income of 4000-5000 Rupees (around USD 100) per month thanks to the sale of fish, aquariums, plants for aquariums or fish food. Shops have been opened to sell fish and accessories for aquariums, which increases local income. The project has not only had a significant financial impact, but has also had other positive side effects. For instance numerous women suffering from hypertension or asthma have acknowldeged the positive effects of this activity on their health. There has also been a drastic decrease in domestic violence and – especially important - most families now send their girls to school. To insure the continued success of the project, participants receive regular follow-up visits. Worldwide, ornamental fish breeding is worth hundreds of millions and possibly billions of US dollars and India could certainly turn this into a significant source of income both for individuals and the country.