Fish farming is now playing a vital role to the total national income of Bangladesh. A major part of its total population is directly or indirectly involved with fish or fish related business. Fish cultivation in a pond can meet a farm family's health needs and earn some extra money at the same time.
Bangladesh is now ranked third in producing fish from inland water-bodies, behind China and India, according to a report of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The country is now also the fifth biggest aquaculture producer in the world, say the report titled “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018”.
As scientists also introduced new varieties of fish, the country has earned self-sufficiency in fish cultivation. In 2017, 41.34 lakh tonnes of fish were produced countrywide.
Even after such success, fish farmers are facing some problems including increase of ammonia in water, decrease of oxygen, high price of fish feed and lack of nutrition in feed.
A farmer's son has made a solution to these problems. He name is Shafiul Alam, a software engineer by profession, invented a smart device in this regard.
Shafuil Alam demonstrated the device in the Asia's biggest yearly innovation fair in COEX Hall at Gangnam city of South Korea in last December.
Among 606 innovations from 33 countries, only 40 innovations were selected through various selection processes. Ministry of Law and Justice is mainly supervising this arrangement.
Shafiul Alam’s one was the only agriculture based innovation. It is great news for Bangladesh considering the global success of Bangladesh in fish cultivation.
According to Shafiul Alam, the smart device works automatically as an aerator (a device which adds oxygen to the water in a fish pond with two propellers). Simultaneously, it has an auto-feeding system that distributes feed. The device can also read the amount of ammonia and fish movements. It is very convenient to use due to auto-charging facility.
All functions can be controlled by internet, either through desktop or through mobile Wi-Fi. The market price has not been fixed yet but it will be a little costly, Shafiul said. But fish production will be much higher using the technology, he however said.
Shafiul has won the third prize (Bronze) in A Big Think competition and also won a silver medal for the same in the fair. He got the scholarship as international participant of Korea Invention Promotion Association (KIPA) and Korea Productivity Center (KPC).
Korea's Fisheries Information and Content Technology Association's Director, Park In-Jong, saw this project as a huge scientific success. He said this innovation of Shafiul is very important for fish farmers all over the world, including South Korea and Bangladesh.
The patent of the device will be completed by the middle of this year. The commercial production will then start. According to Park, it is important for not only about Korea's fisheries but also about the extension of smart technology in overall agriculture. Specially, they are progressing with a goal of adding smart technology in agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors by 2022. For this, their focus is on the world's young scientists, researchers and their startup initiatives.
Developed countries are now involved in collecting talent, scientific excellence, innovation and ideas in a planned manner worldwide. South Korea is also investing huge amount of money for technological advancement. Thus, they are getting technological innovation and commercial prospects.
Shafiul said: “I wanted to keep the research and development part of the product in the same place, so that I can send it to the market quickly. For making this product convenient for Bangladesh, we intend to establish a factory in Bangladesh later if we get support from government or private organizations.”
“So with the help of government institutions and NGOs that work in this field, we will be able to take the device to the farmers’ level, Shafiul added.
His wife Tania Chowdhury, also software engineer, is his close associate in researching and developing the device.
Bangladesh is now a proud claimant of this essential technology for the fisheries sector. South Korea, however, has gained the hardware rights of this device and the software rights stay with the inventor.
Shafiul Alam hoped that Bangladesh government will evaluate such inventions so that the farmers can get the product affordably to increase fish production.