A mega fish farm, measuring 60 acres in Samrang under Samdrupjonkhar, is the latest in efforts to increase the output of livestock products in the country.
This goes in line with the targets of the 11th Five Year Plan, to increase domestic livestock products and reduce the import. As per the records maintained by the Department of Livestock (DoL), as of 2012, more than 2000 metric tonnes (MT) of wet and dry fish was imported into the country.
The National Centre for Aquaculture’s (NCA), DoL, with support from Regional Centre for Aquaculture, aims to produce fish domestically and reduce the import of livestock products and curtail the outflow of foreign currencies, especially the Indian Rupee (INR).
According to an official with NCA, Neten, the multi-million ngultrum mega fish farm project will commence from November this year, after the detailed project report and mobilization of the estimated required funds are complete.
He said that the farm would have about 80 ponds and the project is expected to be complete by October 2015 with the fish production activities to be operational by January 2016.
“The farm is expected to produce its first harvest of 175 Metric Tonnes of fish by January 2017,” Neten added.
Samdrupjongkhar is, so far, the only dzongkhag that has invested in a mega fish farm and has the potential to produce additional tonnes of fish as compared to Gelephug, Sarpang, Tsirang and Samtse. It is expected that other dzongkhags will also reach to such a scale if government reserved forest lands, community water bodies and peripheral wetland that are underutilized or left fallow are allowed to be converted into fish farms.
Besides the operation of the mega fish farm, NCA has other plans and activities such as encouraging adoption and scaling up of fish farming ventures in addition to providing technological interventions which is expected to enhance the fish productivity. The mega farm will be owned and operated by the government for the foreseeable future.
NCA is also set to pursue fish production through farmers’ institution building, breed enhancement and diversification, public-private-partnerships to produce live inputs, especially stunted fingerlings. Further, NCA will work on skills dissemination and enhanced capacity building. Therefore, with such plans in place, the department sees no reason why they cannot achieve their targets.
Meanwhile, NCA is working with farmers in potential fish farming areas to establish fish farms. The centre has set up 10 commercial fish farms in Sarpang, 17 in Samdrupjongkhar, 20 in Samtse, and 8 in Dagana.
The department will pursue fish production through culture based capture fisheries in community water bodies or common access water bodies.
With such plans and projects ongoing, DoL has seen a drastic increase in the production, from the initial 100 MT to 500 MT boost in fish production.