| Fishy path
The state is working on a plan to be self-sufficient in fish farming by December next year.
Animal husbandry and fisheries minister Baidyanath Sahni told The Telegraph that they had taken aquaculture, with focus on pisciculture, as a challenge in the state. “Though the details are still being prepared, the state will stop import of fish from Andhra Pradesh by December next year. The state will become self-sufficient in aquaculture and fish from other states will not be required as per the plan. For this, 23 districts in north and south Bihar have been selected where aquaculture will be developed in a proper way. The ponds and wetlands, which have become dry or non-productive now, will be developed and farmers involved in aquaculture will be helped. It will take us a month to prepare the plan after which the same will be made public and explained in detail. After December next year, Bihar will also start fish exports to other states as well,” Sahni said.
Before this, Nishat Ahmad, director (fisheries), said they had spotted 9.41 lakh hectares of wetlands across the state which could be used for aquaculture. Fish in Bihar are having a difficult swim owing to a non-serious approach towards the trade, which, if nurtured, can be a game-changer for Bihar when it comes to investments. “Of the wetlands which have been identified across the state, a total area of 5 lakh hectares of wetlands has been declared as suitable for fishing. These wetlands will be developed in a proper way,” Ahmed said.
Those actively associated with aquaculture said that with the state producing 3 lakh tonnes of fish each year, it spends Rs 2,000 crore each year to buy fish from others.
“Aquaculture in the state has got a lot of potential but it is not being tapped properly. At present, there are around 40 lakh farmers who are directly or indirectly involved in the trade. In terms of land use, a meagre 500 acres (approx.) of wetlands is being used out of the identified 5 lakh hectares,” Rishikesh Kashyap Nishad, chairman, Cooperative Fisheries Federation, said.
In Bihar, 2 lakh tonnes of fish, mainly of the katla, rohu and mrigal varieties, come from Andhra Pradesh. “With industries in the state hard to come by, it is only agriculture and aquaculture which, if properly developed, can bring some big-time investments,” Nishad added.
The state mainly produces two kinds of fish — Indian Major Carp, which has varieties like katla, rohu and mrigal and Exotic Carp, which has common carp, grass carp and silver carp varieties. From Bengal, it gets hilsa and pomfret varieties.