SUBJECT :When Matsyafed introduced eco-tourism projects in its fish farms in 2010, there were several doubts whether farm tourism has any potential in Kerala. 

While visitors enjoy a speed boat ride, a fish jumps close to the boat at the fish farm owned by Matsyafed in Njarakkal in Kochi (File Photo | Albin Mathew/EPS)

Kochi, 10 March 2019: When Matsyafed introduced eco-tourism projects in its fish farms in 2010, there were several doubts whether farm tourism has any potential in Kerala. However, now these fish farms have become a model before private and government entities on utilising the full potential of farm tourism in the state.

Matsyafed offers eco-tourism packages at its fish farms located at Njarakkal and Malipuram in Vypeen Island in Ernakulam district and Palaikari in Kottayam district. Njarakkal and Malipuram fish farms have become a popular hangout place for Kochi residents. While people from Kochi and Kottayam also visit Palaikari fish farms to enjoy the boat ride in the Vembanad lake.

“As the people do not have time to travel to Munnar and Thekkady for one-day holiday, they come to our fish farms. We have various attractions at the farm, including speed boats, pedal boats, traditional rowing boats and boats in the shape of a basket, fish jumps, kayaking, angling and cycle boats. Tourists are provided with breakfast and lunch at the bamboo hut constructed in the middle of the fish farm surrounded by water. We also have a tree house at the farm.

So the tourist coming in the morning can spend time till evening. We also provide lunch and tea here which are part of the package,” said Nisha P, manager of Njarakkal fish farm. The Njarakkal fish farm has been operational for the past 10 years, and it was turned into an eco-tourism centre three years ago. Located 14 km from Kochi city, the 45-acre area was converted into three ponds to nurture various varieties of fish, including thirutha (grey mullet), karimeen (pearl spot), poomeen (milkfish) and tilapia.

According to Nisha, in the current fiscal more than 40,000 tourists have visited Njarakkal fish farm. This has happened when Ernakulam district witnessed the worst flood during the Onam season. “In fact, we expected a low number of tourists in the current financial year. The farm is mostly visited during the season starting from Onam to January.

Due to the flood, the number of tourist during the season time was low. However, it was quite surprising that people started coming to the farm in numbers in the past three months and due to which the tourist arrival at the farm has overtaken the arrival recorded in the last financial year. We are expecting a good number of tourists during summer vacation,” she said.As these farms are becoming popular among tourists, Matsyafed has introduced new packages- Pravahini and Bhoomika - connecting three farms.