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Push for more fish literature

Jorhat, Nov. 26: Assam fisheries minister Basanta Das today called for more literature on fish production and technical knowhow for fish farmers in languages of various communities.

Delivering an inaugural address of a two-day workshop on Prioritisation of Research and Education for Fisheries Development in North East India organised at the Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat campus, Das said days when fish was harvested naturally from Assam’s vast waterbodies are over. Because of heavy siltation, fish farmers in the state have to take to digging ponds and artificial production, he added.

“Although quite a few progressive farmers are doing well, the majority are facing problems as they do not have any literature to refer to. They do not know what quantity of fish can be reared in how much area, what should be the amount of feed and the diseases affecting fish. A book providing them all such information is very much the need of the hour,” the minister said.

Das referred to one Kamal Gogoi, a fish farmer of Jorhat, who had produced so much surplus seed that he could not sell the entire amount and quality seed went to waste.

He urged the university and other stakeholders to work on finding out ways so that there is no mismatch in production and selling. He stressed on training of farmers in a proper way.

The workshop is being organised by AAU in collaboration with Central Institute of Fishery Education (CIFE), Mumbai, the only fisheries institute in India, to find means to augment fish production in the state, produce cheap feed from indigenous and locally available products and also on breeding of ornamental fish varieties.

The director of CIFE, W.S. Lakra, said the workshop would make a blueprint for development of the fisheries sector in Assam.

“The workshop will address requirement, protection and how to enhance productivity of different species of fish. It will also address constraints, prioritise networking and identify areas of research and chalk out areas in which collaborative work could be done in the 12th Plan period. The workshop will also stress on capacity building in this sector, the huge potential of ornamental fishes, technologies developed and how best to take these to the farmers and also train them on modern biology and genomics as well as marketing,” Lakra said.

The secretary of state fishery department, A.K. Roy, also pointed out factors like acidic water, diseases, proper food and other factors affecting fish growth in the state.

Vice-chancellor of the university K.M. Bujarbaruah said though India accounted for 9 million tonnes out of 180 million tonnes fish produced in the world, China, Norway and Thailand occupy the top three positions in fish production.

He pointed out that the Raha Fishery College near Nagaon under the AAU was understaffed by almost 50 per cent and said scope for expansion and research was therefore being hampered.