Homestead rearing of the African catfish

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A concrete Chari for catfish rearingTherefore In 1998-1999 we implemented the Homestead Magur (catfish) Culture Programme, also known as the Chari in the Bari programme in the Compartmentalization Pilot Project in Bangladesh. With this programme we tried to reach the poorest of the poor, and wanted to show this group that it is possible to grow high-value fish with limited resources.

The main idea behind the programme is that magur (African catfish, Clarias gariepinus) is athree harvested catfish good fish to be grown, because of its high growth rate, disease resistance, ability to take up oxygen from the air, etc., but that most local people are not aware of the potential of this fish. A few households in the CPP area have already been growing magur on their homesteads. This method proved to be successful, so CPP has taken up the task to spread this local knowledge among other households with emphasis on professional fishermen, landless, and other poor people. Initially 200 households have joined the Chari in the Bari programme.

A small ditch for the rearing of catfishThe people from this target group have not benefited from the previous aquaculture extension programmes, because they do not have access to ponds. In the Chari in the Bari Programme a pond is not needed; a feeding bucket (or Chari) or a hole in the ground of approximately 1 m2 will be enough to grow 50 fish to marketable size.


Harvesting the catfishOne of the selection criteria for the households was that the house where the family lives consists of a straw, mud or jute wall. This to ensure that really the poorest of the poor join the programme. People who wanted to join the programme, but did not comply with the selection criteria were advised to buy from local fish traders, after which they could receive technical assistance from the fisheries section of CPP.

Fingerling sellers in Jessore, BangladeshCatfish fry is not available on the local market in the beginning of the year; therefore a small hatchery was built in the project office, where local staff have been producing 6000 catfish fry up to 3 grams. After production of this fry, selected homesteads were offered the possibility to buy 50 fry for a nominal fee (10 Tk), while the normal price for this number of fish would be between 25 and 50 Taka. Later local fish traders were taken along to the fish market in Jessore where it is possible to buy catfish fry.



200 households joined the programme.80% of the participants were females, 15% were males and 5% were children. Some socio economic parameters of the participants are presented below:

  • Average daily income 1.2 US$ per household per day
  • Average household size 4.7 persons
  • 2-3 meals per day
  • All participants were landless

The participants were given four rules for the rearing of the catfish:

  • the fish need to be fed every day
  • the food can be anything except grass and plastic
  • bad smelling water needs to be changed
  • no size difference of fish are allowed

The first rearing cycle lasted about 3-4 months, Fewer than 5% of the participants dropped out, and all of them during the first two weeks.

Production figures of African catfish

On the average each household sold 5 kg of catfish with an average weight of 100-200 grams. They invested 0.25 US. All feed was gathered around the house and in the surrounding fields, which took about 1 hour per day.

On the average each participant earned 8-10 US with the catfish rearing. This seems to be low for development projects. But it must be realized that this is equivalent to:

Making pebbles from bricksA woman making bidi sigarettes








Therefore we concluded that the homestead rearing of catfish is:

  • A successful method for poverty alleviation
  • Can be used to improve the situation of women

For more information contact:

Felix Marttin


Gertjan de Graaf

Harvesting Tilapia in Congo Brazzaville
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