|A fishery in Dhemaji and (below) a training programme for members of a self-help group
Oct. 30: When innovation strikes, something as ubiquitous and ordinary as machor tenga can turn into a money churner.
Self-help groups in Dhemaji have decided to cash in on Upper Assam’s love for fish and invest the money they earned in other small-time enterprises in fisheries.
Enthused by the new idea, the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has decided to empower the self-help groups by forming a federation that will allow them better access to business information.
The first one to benefit from the DRDA scheme will be the Subansiri self-help group federation, with better marketing facilities, easier access to information, more credit linkage through banks and other financial institutions and opportunity for training.
Upgraded, the self-help group federation can choose and plan its own pisciculture schemes.
“With the new plan, it is expected that self-help groups will earn five times more by the end of the year,” a DRDA official said.
Though fish is an integral part of every meal in Upper Assam households, there has hardly been any intensive pisciculture so far.
The DRDA has designed a plan that aims to make Dhemaji not only self-sufficient in fish production but also the highest fish producer in the state.
“Till the Seventies, the district had plenty of fishes in its water bodies. The population explosion and the heavy siltation after floods brought down the number drastically in the past decade,” the official said.
As a result, the markets in the district are filled with fish imported from other states.
Statistics reveal that the annual demand for fish in the district is 9,700 metric tonnes but the annual production is 5,948 metric tonnes, creating a deficit of 3,752 metric tonnes.
“Traditional practices should be shunned to adopt scientific pisciculture in excavated water tanks or in reclaimed water bodies to meet the demand of fish in the district,” the official said.
The DRDA has already identified at least 1,100 hectares of low-lying areas in the district that will be converted into fisheries.
Nearly 140 self-help groups are undergoing training on ways to maintain fisheries.
“Scientific pisciculture can also become a great opportunity for attracting more unemployed youths,” the official said.