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PD/A CRSP Aquanews-Summer 2003

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Graduate Student Profile: Narayan P. Pandit

by Roger Harris

epal is a name that conjures up images of snow-covered peaks and tough mountaineers. But Nepal native Narayan P. Pandit has a different vision. He would like to see Nepal’s aquaculture realize its potential to become a major contributor to the country’s food production.

Narayan P. Pandit.

Photo by: Ramu Darai

With the help of the Aquaculture CRSP, he is on his way to making this a reality. For ten months from March 2002, he was supported by the Aquaculture CRSP under the tutelage of Madhav Shrestha, an Aquaculture CRSP Host Country Principal Investigator, also from Nepal.

Growing up in a farmer’s family, the seeds of Pandit’s interest were sown during his childhood. These formative years inspired his interest in agriculture, so in November 1993 he decided to attend the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) located near the town of Chitwan in south-central Nepal. He completed his bachelor’s degree in agriculture at IAAS in 2002, and was inspired by Shrestha to study for his master’s degree in aquaculture.

Pandit’s interest in aquaculture derives from his love of the natural environment and awareness of both the limitations and potential for the industry in his country.

Obstacles to establishing a strong aquaculture sector in Nepal include lack of skilled personnel and appropriate research, inefficient resource management, and an inadequate marketing infrastructure, says Pandit. On the plus side, he recognizes that the country’s “vast water resources and diversified geographical conditions” are ideal to culture a wide range of fish species. Marginal swampland and irrigated paddy fields offer particular promise to integrate aquaculture into the Nepalese economy.

Pandit wants to help his country overcome the problems. To this end, his CRSP-supported work has been on a master’s project: “Women in Aquaculture in Nepal.” This is aimed at increasing the involvement of Nepalese women in aquaculture. Specific goals include enabling women to raise fish as well as engage in normal household activities and to provide a supplemental food source and income. In all, 82 small ponds (100 to 200 m2) were built adjacent to family houses, where women took responsibility for the pond and were trained in aquaculture.

After completing his degree in summer 2003, Pandit plans to study towards a Ph.D. in aquaculture. This is a significant challenge given there is no aquaculture doctorate program in Nepal. If support were available, he would like to pursue his interests in aquatic resource management, water quality, and biometrics.

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