In 1998, when her husband gave up all hope of fish farming, one of his businesses on a 10-acre Muhuri irrigation project in Mirsarai upazila, seeing repeated losses and planning to leave, Kohinoor Kamal or to take the challenge.
Her challenges were many. The first was just her gender. Being a woman and living in the port to oversee the fish farms that are about two and a half hours away, while night visits are required, she was discouraged by many in the family.
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In addition, the area was known to be troubling, as disputes and clashes between locals in the neighboring Mirsarai and Sonagazi areas of Feni over fish farming in the newly emerged huge area following the construction of a dam over the Feni River canal were frequent. .
“I persuaded my husband for many reasons to let me run the project as a test case for at least a year or two and then let it go if I did not make a profit,” said Kohinoor, president and co-founder of Chattogram. Meridian Group, talked about how KK Dairy, Poultry and Fisheries saved one of their worries.
“As I took over the project in 2000, it was not only a personal challenge for me, but also a responsibility to prove that women can do it.”
Her determination and hard work paved the way for her to see success and within just two years the project reached its beginning. And since then, her story has only been about progress.
The small fish farm gradually developed while Kohinoor expanded it into an incubator and founded the Meridian Hatchery in 2009, expanding the total project to over 100 acres.
KK Dairy, Poultry and Fisheries currently has fisheries on about 60 acres of land on the Muhuri irrigation project in Mirsarai upazila, while Meridian Hatchery has fried hatcheries on about 40 acres on the Muhuri project under Sonagazi in Feni.
Her two projects currently produce high quality single sex tilapia, catfish such as pangas, Vietnamese koi and various carp, as well as high quality potatoes of this species.
The projects also provide technical support to nearly 15,000 individual smallholder farmers, mostly women in the area, for the production of quality fish and the marketing of fish.
The fishing farms produced about 700 tons of fish in 2019 and the hatcheries produced about 10 million pieces of fries in the same year.
Such a production helped Kohinoor win the Standard Chartered, Channel I Agrow Award 2020 in the judging category.
The two companies’ net sales reached Tk 15 million that year.
The Muhuri irrigation project was created in the early 1980s with the construction of approximately 5 miles of coastal landfill and a 1.5 mile dam downstream of the confluence of three rivers, the Feni, Muhuri and Kalidash Pahalia, which led to the emergence of new land (char). on both sides creating a huge fish farm.
The area has become one of the largest fish farming areas in the country in the last three decades where over 2,000 fish farms have been developed by various large businesses and small farmers.
Kohinoor said its philosophy was slow and steady to grow.
“I never went for a bank loan and also did not get financial support from the family business after the first two years. After I reached breakake I decided not to give the profits to other concerns of our family business, I would rather invest my profits to I am expanding gradually, “he said.
It started with an investment of just 40 million Tk in 2000 and now the annual transaction of the two projects has reached 18 million Tk.
He hunted for knowledge of modern fish farming to see more success.
“We had a shortage of quality fried fish in the beginning that limited production,” Kohinoor said, adding that the craving for quality fries pushed her to start her own hatchery in 2009.
Through consultation with her husband, Syed Mostafa Kamal Pasha, CEO of Meridian Group, she went for further improvement.
It hired technical experts, gradually shifted from traditional farming to semi-intensive farming to intensive farming, collaborated with various foreign NGOs to adopt a modern farming method, started importing quality parent fish for quality fries and sent the technical team member abroad for training.
In the initial stage he cultivated only two types of carp fish rohit and katla in a traditional system giving natural food and the annual production was 1,200 to 1,500 kg per acre. Following the adoption of a semi-intensive system using natural and artificial feed, annual production increased to 2,000 to 2,500 kg per acre.
In 2005, the company started growing mono tilapia in a semi-intensive system and achieved an annual production of 4 to 5 tons per acre.
Currently, tilapia is cultivated with a semi-intensive system in an area of 40 acres and with the use of frying quality the annual production amounts to 12 tons per acre.
They also introduced a modern system of intensive cultivation of tilapia in an area of 12 acres and achieved an annual production rate of 16 tons per acre.
He developed a research center where students from different universities do internships. It plays a vital role in improving the quality of fish farming in the area.
Kohinoor has undertaken a new mission to commercially produce Australian freshwater jade perch as it has good prospects for export abroad.
“We have already imported this kind of offspring from China and organized the training of one of our senior agricultural experts in cooperation with Australia,” he said.