For Shahnaz Dewan, who lives in the Bangladeshi Adabari Village in Tangail District, an introduction to fish farming was life changing.

Fish farmers and entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have been farming multiple fish species, in order to maximize their production and profits. Tilapia is a prime candidate and extensive tilapia farming in Bangladesh has developed with the introduction by WorldFish of the improved Oreochromis niloticus, know as the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain, over two decades ago.

While Shanaz was engaged in household activities and social work, her husband used traditional methods of raising Indian carp in their pond. She had very little involvement in the household fish farming.

But that changed when the Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia (CSISA) Program was launched in her area. Shanaz developed an interest in fish farming and joined the group discussions organized by WorldFish.

"I hope that these activities will continue to increase the income of people in rural Bangladesh.”- Shahnaz Dewan, fish farmer

After participating in these discussions, Shanaz developed an interest in short-duration tilapia aquaculture, which she thought would provide her with an opportunity for improving her family’s income. Since most of the ponds in her area tend to dry up or retain very little water in the dry season, short-duration improved fish culture technology promised to be the most suited to the local environment.

After discussions with stakeholders, WorldFish arranged for two days of training on improved pond farming of tilapia and dyke horticulture. At this training course, Shanaz and 28 other participants (including four other women) learned how to cultivate monosex tilapia. Shanaz was enthusiastic about what she learned stating, “I want to grow good quality, large fingerlings.”

She was eventually able to source and stock 5500 large fingerlings in a 24 decimal (a decimal is 1/100 acre) pond and, using more efficient management practices as defined by WorldFish guidelines, served as a demonstration farmer, educating and influencing her neighbors.

In early September, after three and a half months of hard work, she harvested a total of 1020 kg of tilapia and 40 kg of white fish (carp), which sold for BDT 140,180 ($USD1,805). She then stocked up on carp for the next few months and harvested again in early February, this time selling 350 kg of fish for a total of BDT 42,000 ($USD540).

Her overall total production for the 2012/2013 growing season came to 1,410 kg, yielding her a gross profit of BDT 97,930 ($USD1,224).

Shanaz’s success and her entrepreneurial spirit have not gone unnoticed: her neighbors are showing an interest in this technology. She says, “Women can easily carry out fish culture without hampering their other household activities. I hope that these activities will continue to increase the income of people in rural Bangladesh.”