Notes to broadcasters
Some efficient management practices
Wang is an outstanding farmer in Sichuan province in the People’s Republic of China. His story is presented in three parts. On 0.8 of a hectare (less than 2 acres) of land, he began farming by establishing three fish ponds and planting both short- and long-life fruit trees near the water. He efficiently handles water and animal and poultry wastes and bases business decisions on well-kept farm records.
HOST: In just four years, Wang Wun Shi, a Chinese farmer, and his family have established a farming operation that has become a model in their community in the People’s Republic of China. Wang had grown up in the countryside near the capital of Sichuan Province. He was very poor but he knew farming, he was practical, and he was ambitious. Nearby, there was a small piece of land, 0.8 of a hectare (1.98 acres) in size that was not being used. When Wang was 45 years old, he and his wife leased the land from the local government for a period of 20 years. With careful planning and an interest-free start-up loan, they set to work.
Three fish-ponds and three hundred fruit trees
About one-third of the land at the back end of the lot was low and poorly-drained. Because of this, the first thing they did was to dig three rectangular fish ponds side by side in this area. The water in the ponds is 1 metre (3 feet) deep, and the banks around them are 1 metre (3 feet) higher than the water level. The bunds between the ponds are about 2 metres (6 to 7 feet) wide. On top of the banks and bunds, they planted a row of 100 loquat trees and between each of them, they planted two cherry trees. As loquat trees take longer to come into bearing than cherry trees, this part of the farm started producing fruit as soon as the cherry trees began to bear. Then as the loquat trees have been growing bigger and bigger, Wang has been cutting down the cherry trees to make more room for them. In China, the fruit of the loquat is much more valuable than cherries, when sold in the market.
A major advantage of planting fruit trees on the banks of the pond is that they never need to be irrigated, no matter how dry the weather, because the roots grow down in the moist soil. All the soil around and close to the ponds, of course, was dug out when they were constructed, so much of it is subsoil. That means that to help the trees get started growing well, after planting them, Wang had to do quite a bit of extra work. For example, he made a circular shallow trench around each one. In each trench, he applied some manure and covered it with straw.
Wang also used organic fertilizer to get good crops of grass and other forage growing on the banks and bunds of the ponds. He cuts it and feeds it to the grass-eating fish that live near the surface of the pond. He has made a 3-metre- (10-foot-) square bamboo frame for each pond that floats on the surface of the water. Each day he moves it along the shore of the pond to the place he will cut forage for the fish. He then throws what he cuts into the water inside the frame. This keeps it all together in one place for the fish to eat that day.
Wang’s management of water and animal wastes
After establishing the ponds and planting the fruit trees, Wang Wun Shi and his family put up buildings for raising pigs and chickens. The buildings were carefully placed close to the ponds so that all water from their roofs would either flow directly into the ponds or could be piped into them in bamboo pipes or troughs, or in ditches. The buildings have cement floors and openings in the wall nearest the ponds so that urine, manure, and droppings can flow by gravity or can be scraped into watertight pits just outside the buildings. Some of the animal wastes are then transferred by bucket into a special night soil pit for later use as fertilizer for crops. Also, with a long-handled scoop, whatever is needed for the ponds is transferred directly into them. This fertilizes the water so that plankton will grow, providing food for tilapia and other such fish in the ponds. Actually, this progressive farmer grows three different kinds of fish in those ponds.
Fish sales and business management decisions
One of Wang’s main sources of income is from fish that he sells. Because he is a busy person, he does not take time to harvest the fish from his pond and sell them in the market. Instead, he sets aside one day every month when he lets people from the surrounding towns and villages come to his farm and fish in the ponds. They then pay him by the kilogram for the fish that they catch.
Like many successful business people, Wang Wun Shi keeps accurate records of his costs of production and of the cash returns he gets from his various farming enterprises. Although he began by raising both chickens and pigs, after carefully examining his records, he found that his pig-raising enterprise was not profitable for him. Because of this, he no longer keeps pigs on his farm.
On our next visit, I’ll give you details of how it is that Wang Wun Shi and his family have made a great success of their poultry enterprise.
1. This item is part 1 in a 3-part farmer success story in this package. Each part contains information on different farming methods that may be useful to the farmers you serve.
2. References are made to topics more fully covered in other DCFRN items. Information in them could be presented in connection with this series.
Farm Credit: Guidelines for small farmers, Package 19, Item 7
Bamboo Water Pipes, Package 3, Item 8
Farming Hints – Bamboo no-cost eaves trough, Package 6, Item 9/B
Get the Most from Your Fish Pond, Package 17, Item 9
Good Farm Records: A Key to Higher Profits (Part 3 – Records help in cropping decisions), – Package 12, Item 1
Information in this item was obtained from Wang Wun Shi on his family farm in Zu Qiao County, Sichuan province in the People’s Republic of China by George Atkins, DCFRN’s Founding Director.