Farming of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in backyard ponds in Sri Lanka: Culture practices, fish production and profitability

K.B.C. Pushpalatha*, J. Chandrasoma†, H.S.W.A. Liyanage, W.A.J.R. Fernando and J.M. Jayabahu



Government of Sri Lanka through Ministry of Economic Development implemented an island-wide multi-sector programme during 2011-2014 involving rural households with the objective of enhancing nutrition and also to provide supplementary income and livelihoods. Fish farming in backyard/home garden ponds was one of the components under this programme. This was the second attempt by the government to introduce small- scale pond fish farming in Sri Lanka, and the first attempt made during 1980-1983 was a failure.

A total of 2,109 ponds covering an area of 105.45 ha have been established under the current programme. Information pertaining to culture practices, fish production, financial returns and costs involved in respect of these ponds were collected through administering a questionnaire. The survey covered fish ponds in the districts of Gampaha, Puttalam and Ampara. Nile Tilapia (Oreochrimis niloticus) was the only species used for farming. All-male or mixed sex tilapia are being farmed in these ponds. Considerable variations in stocking densities adapted, inputs, fish production, selling prices of fish, operational costs and profitability was observed among ponds in these districts. Average fish production per culture cycle were 9,192 kg/ha (Gampaha), 6,074 kg/ha (Puttalam) and 3,270 kg/ha (Ampara). Tilapia farming in ponds is profitable in all three districts. Profit margins are very attractive in respect of ponds in Gampaha and Puttalam.

Recommendations to ensure sustainability in tilapia farming in ponds and for further expansion of fish farming in ponds with special reference to culture practices, fish production, inputs and role of government are made.

Keywords: earthen ponds; economics of aquaculture; Nile tilapia; rural aquaculture

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