|Subject: NTNews: Fish for food and malaria
Northern Territory News (Australia)
April 28, 2003 Monday
Fish for food and malaria control
By RAJIV MAHARAJ
Territory troops in East Timor have developed a cheap fish farming project that will feed hungry people and get rid of malaria at the same time.
The plan is beautiful in its simplicity and has the potential to change the lives of many in the rice-growing district of Maliana in East Timor.
The prototype fish farm at the border town of Maliana consists of seven pits in the ground, lined with plastic and filled with fresh water from nearby mountain streams and rivers.
Freshwater carp hatchlings are placed into these man-made ponds to grow.
Once they are about 5cm long -- fingerlings -- the fish are caught and transported to the hundreds of rice fields in the district.
Australian Army Captain Paul Winter explained the theory behind the plan.
"The idea is that the fish will grow to full-size in the rice fields and as they grow they will eat all the mosquito larvae in the water," Capt Winter said.
"The Chinese have done this for ages.
"It's a really brilliant idea because it serves two functions -- it feeds the villagers and gets rid of malaria, which is a potential killer."
Capt Winter said village-level fish farmers could raise carp to full maturity at site themselves, then on-sell those to locals.
Affairs troops in East Timor could be used anywhere and at little cost.
"That's the real beauty of the project -- it's very cheap and affordable by local standards," Capt Winter said.
"It's less than a thousand dollars.
"One small farm with about five ponds can generate 20,000 big carp fish a year."
Major Andy Haebich, another Territorian who oversees CMA projects in the Maliana district, said the fish farming projects gave village landowners an excellent opportunity to maximise the social and economic uses of their land.
"It's a great opportunity for them, because they don't need much capital and they can get the whole village behind the project with the shared rewards that are there for everyone," he said.
Maj Haebich said the transformation in the faces of Maliana people gave a stark contrast to the fear that permeated the district when pro-Indonesian militia went on a bloody rampage in 1999, destroying much of infrastructure in area.
"People are far more relaxed," he said.
Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/