GUWAHATI- The Integrated Ornamental Fish Farming Unit at the Aquaculture and Biodiversity Centre, Department of Zoology at Gauhati University is making good strides in terms of production of indigenous and exotic ornamental fish.
Set up with support from the National Fisheries Development Board, Hyderabad and Aquaculture and Biodiversity Centre and the State Fisheries Department, the Integrated Ornamental Fish Farming Unit is making headway in the production of indigenous ornamental fish of different species.
Managing Director, FISHFED, Dr. Dhrubajyoti Sharma, who has been associated with the project since its very inception, said that it has been a story of success insofar as production of indigenous fish of different species is concerned.
A total of 70 species of ornamental value have been procured from different locations of Assam and other states of North East Region and reared in natural habitat in nine ponds covering an area of 16 acres under the National Development Fisheries Board’s Rs.1.36 crore funded project.
The brooder’s bank for ornamental fish houses 70 aquariums, 10 cisterns, carp hatchery, air breathing fish hatchery unit and a laboratory. Six units of modified ornamental fish hatcheries have been installed with facilities like ozone generator, oxygen concentrators with an overhead tank to ensure infection free water for the brooders.
“The Fish brooder bank helps to produce quality and improved fish seed in substantial quantity to fish farmers as well as hatchery owners,” said Fisheries Development Officer attached to Minister Fisheries, Pratul Deka.
A pilot project on ornamental fishes under NDFB is also underway. Three clusters have been formed comprising women fish farmers. Matsyagandha Ornamental Society at Dhing under Nagaon district, Jagaran Ornamental Fishery Development Society at Krishnai under Goalpara district and Amranga Ornamental Fishery Development Society at Mirza under Kamrup district have come up. Three government research institutes such as the College of Fisheries, Raha under the Assam Agricultural University, KVK Zoology Department of Gauhati University and Ornamental Fisheries Research Unit under Department of Fisheries have been linked to these clusters.
Dr.Sharma said that Assam with its vast water resources in the form of rivers, water bodies and ponds have immense potential for production and trading of indigenous ornamental fish to different parts of the world.
Annual trade for exotic ornamental fish for the state is estimated to be Rs.5 crore. About 90 per cent exotic fish species are coming from Kolkata. Under the pilot project, five selected native ornamental fish and 10 exotic ornamental fish having good market demand have been taken up for breeding and rearing and in which breeding technologies have been already standardised.
India stands at the number two position, behind China, in the world in fish production. However, the contribution of ornamental fish to a whopping Rs.47,000 crore revenue is a mere Rs.6 crore. Of the approximately 4,500 species identified, the global trade in ornamental fish is dominated by 2,500 odd species. “The advantage Assam possesses with abundant water resources will surely open a sea of opportunities for us to diversify our farming to include ornamental fish. It is more than a viable option, even for small scale and landless farmers, women, self-help groups and cooperatives,” said Dr.Sharma, said, adding that farming ornamental fish is equally remunerative for small as also big units.
The global trade in ornamental fish, including the ancillaries such as aquaria etc. is estimated between US$ 15 to 20 billion, fish alone being around US$ 8 to 15 billion. A study estimates the domestic demand for aquarium fish to go up to Rs. 12,000 crore by the year 2025, meaning that the country needs to register an annual growth of nearly 40%.
“Efforts are on to support our farmers through a scientific breeding programme that enhances the physical attributes of the fish, the very attributes which make it worthy of participation in a beauty pageant, the returns of which could be more than one multiple of 5,000,” said Deka.
It may be noted that sale of Platinum Arowana has been recorded at US$ 4,00,000 which translates into a whopping Rs 3,20,00,000.
The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojna (PMMSY) has a strong component of support to ornamental fish farming. “A welcome aspect of the scheme is that it strategises budgetary support to attract private investment, and also to provide backend support to the farmers by way of establishment of brood banks and hatcheries,” he quipped.
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) too has developed schemes to encourage and finance cooperatives and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) for farming ornamental fish. “The vocation gets further integrated with a host of other activities such as farming and/or harvesting aquatic plants, expanding aquarium manufacturing industry, feed units, and lo and behold even fish beauty industry,” Deka added.