Kochi: The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute’s (CMFRI) efforts to popularise its cage fish farming technology has won recognition with a cage fish farmer associated with the institute bagging the prestigious ‘Thozhil Shreshta’ award instituted by the State Labour Department.

P M Dinil Prasad, 28, from Kannur, who won the award for his excellent performance in the fisheries sector, has been undertaking cage fish farming under the guidance of the CMFRI. Lured by the prospects of cage fish farming, he quit the job in the Indian Army and turned to cage aquaculture. While the CMFRI introduced a 15-cr project funded by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) to set up 500 cage farming units in Kerala in 2018, Dinil Prasad was the first to receive a unit under the project and upon CMFRI’s guidance he launched the farming in Anjarakandi river in Kannur.

Mr Prasad was bestowed with the award that carried a purse of Rs. 1 lakh and a certificate for his tremendous achievement in cage fish farming with good harvest of pearl spot within a short span of three and half years. This was made possible with regular training and guidance imparted by the Mariculture Division of CMFRI headed by Dr Imelda Joseph. Presently, he undertakes farming of 7000 pearl spots in seven cages of 4-metre and at least 150 kg of yield is expected from each cage.

Along with cage fish farming, Dinil Prasad also runs a seed production unit of pearl spot and mussel farming. In addition, he provides consultancy service, including cage fabrication, site selection, species identification, etc. to those desiring to start cage fish farming. Around 75 cage culture units were launched in many parts of the Malabar region under Dinil’s consultancy.

The young fish farmer said that his strong passion toward cage fish farming and determination were the secrets of his success. “At the initial stage, many people accused me of quitting a good job and starting an aquaculture enterprise. But, with the success of the venture, they lauded my efforts and willpower and more youngsters started approaching me to emulate this model”, he said adding that he is indebted to CMFRI’s support that was crucial to adopt this technology at its best and to secure his livelihood.

COVID restrictions never dampened his spirit as he took to social media to market his harvested crops. “Social media helped me a lot during the lockdown to reach the targeted consumers and sell the fish at a good price”, Dinil said.

CMFRI Director Dr A Gopalakrishan expressed his happiness over popularisation of its technology in a way that is highly beneficial to the society. “Cage fish farming is helping to increase domestic fish production in Kerala which is rich in water resources. It is hopeful that youngsters are increasingly taking up cage fish farming as their entrepreneurial initiative”, he said.