Achieving self sufficiency in fish production in Tripura state of India-some policies and suggestions
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Achieving self sufficiency in fish production in Tripura state of India-some policies and suggestions

Debtanu Barman1 & *Sagar C. Mandal2

1Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center, Ghent University, Belgium

2College of Fisheries, Central Agricultural University, Lembucherra, Tripura-799210, India

*Corresponding author: scmandal02@gmail.com, +919862807933, +919402169213 (mobile), +913812865291 (fax)


Tripura is the first state in India that has developed a vision plan to achieve self-sufficiency in fish production. There is a popular belief in many Southeast Asian countries that eating a minimum of 100 g fish a day, keeps the doctors away. 'Fish for all' is a global program initiated by the Worldfish centre based in Penang, Malaysia under the chairmanship of Dr. M. S. Swaminthan. Tripura initiated the program on providing reasonable amount of fish to all, much before it was conceived by the Worldfish centre and this vision of the state was appreciated when the 'fish for all' program was formally launched in Kolkota by the Worldfish center in 2003. Based on the information released by the department of fisheries, Tripura state has now achieved the level of providing 9 kg fish person-1year-1 and it has the target of reaching 13 kg person-1year-1 by 2012.

Present status of fishery development of the state

Tripura is one of the smallest hilly and landlocked states of the North-Eastern region with an area of 10,492 km2 but is the second most populous state in the region. As fish is one of the vital food items of the diet of 99% of population, fishery plays an important role in the state not only as food item but also to improve the socio-economic condition of the 73.58% of the rural people who are living below the poverty line. There is a big difference between the demand and fish production in this state. The present scenario of fisheries of the state is as follows (up to March, 2006):

Table 1: Fisheries statistics of Tripura State, India

1.

Available water resources

  1. Capture fisheries

(ii) Culture fisheries

7878.76 ha

15,160.52 ha

2.

Total demand of fish

41,940 MT

3.

Total production of fish

23,870.58 MT

4.

Apex fishery cooperative society

1 no

5.

Fishery based SHGs formed

720 nos.

6.

Fish farmers development agency

4 nos.

7.

Fish feed manufacturing plant

5 nos.

8.

Training institute/ centre

4 nos.

9.

Fisheries awareness centre

2 nos.

10.

Fish health investigation centre

1 no

11.

Carp fish seed production hatchery

(i) Govt. sector

(ii) Private sector

4 nos.

3 nos.

12.

Prawn seed production hatchery

(i) Govt. sector

(ii) Private sector

5 nos.

1 no

13.

Ornamental fish breeding centre (Govt. sector)

1 no

14.

Pabda fish seed hatchery

1 no

15.

Soil & water testing laboratory (Govt. sector)

8 nos.

16.

Govt. fish & fish seed farms

21 nos.

17.

Model aqua village developed

10 nos.

Table 2: Recent trends in fish production, demand & deficiency (in MT) in Tripura

Year

Production

Demand

Deficiency

2004-05

19837.70

41170

21332.30

2005-06

23870.58

41940

18069.42

2006-07

28634.00

42600

13966.00

2007-08

32830.00

43280

10450.00


From total 32,830.00 MT fish production, North District contributes 6,625.41 MT, Dhalai District 4,273.40 MT, West District 10,836.48 MT and South District 11,094.37 MT.

Table 3: Carp & prawn seed production trend in Tripura

Year

Quantity in lakhs

Carp seeds

Prawn seeds

2004-05

2009.32

5.06

2005-06

2209

7.14

2006-07

2407.23

-

2007-08

2533.04

7.534

Major constraints in fishery sector in Tripura

To achieve self sufficiency in fish production there have been many problems in the field to be sorted out with solutions for proper growth in aquaculture as follows-

  1. Genetic degradation in fishes: Due to repeated use of same parental stock for inducing breeding resulting in the genetic degradation of the offspring. Now, the dept. of fisheries has taken initiative to avail the consignments of Ganga spawn for replacement of old stock.

  2. Lack of diversification of culture fisheries: Besides Indian major carp or exotic carps, there is need to introduce other compatible and commercially important fish species having good growth performance within a short possible of time.

  3. Lack of research facilities: Though there are sufficient numbers of qualified technical staff to undertake the field work, but constraint of funds has been the problem to set up a research unit in the state.

  4. Problems with Rudrasagar lake: Re-excavation of Rudrasagar lake to save it from siltation is the major tasks to be undertaken. If the siltation process continues, within a couple of years the lake will surely vanish.

  5. Lack of soil and water quality mapping: Soil and water quality mapping is essential in use of aqua resources and to secure a good yield.

  6. Lack of international exposure: To get more exposure to new aquaculture practices worldwide and to get more knowledge regarding new findings in culture practices, the technical personnel should provide financial support.

  7. There are few efforts by the govt. to reclaim water bodies or attempt for stocking them. Leaseholders exploit the water bodies as much as possible but they are least bothered about making any improvement. Most of the rivers and other water bodies are deficient of nutrients which adversely affected the growth of fish.

  8. There is always apprehension in the minds of the fish farmers on making any fresh investment that recurrent flood might wash away their efforts. Moreover, there are incidences of frequent poaching and poising in the fish ponds.

  9. Poor extension system in the fishery dept. because fishery dept. used to employed fishery officers for 14-15 gram panchayat without any proper vehicle facilities in rural areas, so they are unable to do their job properly.

  10. Socio-economic condition of the fish farmers are very poor for which they can’t effort to buy balanced diet food.

  11. Less awareness and training among the fish farmers on scientific fish culture and they can’t realize the fact that poverty can be uplifted with the help of fish culture.

  12. Tripura soil is acidic in nature, so to do fish culture here, it is required to apply sufficient amount of lime in the ponds, which a poor fish farmer can’t effort.

  13. Fish culture and related subject regard as a low profession in the society for which it creates problems to the future generations to venture into this sector.

Major policies to develop fisheries in Tripura

  1. Focus on education

Our two years survey results indicated that the average productivity of fish was about 1400 kg ha-1year-1. Tribal farmers’ productivity was less than 1000 kg ha-1year-1, while the non-tribal farmers were able to get better production. As per the latest information of the state fisheries department, the average production is about 2000 kg ha-1year-1. In the past also, under the Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) program, average productivity level was reported as above 2200 kg ha-1year-1. However, this productivity level dropped down once the material support to the farmers was withdrawn. This lesson must be considered carefully and to avert such a situation, focus on education to farmers on fish culture should be considered. To educate subsistence farmers to farming for profit, education to farmers using tools and approaches that make learning easy and practical is widely suggested and successfully used by many organizations.

  1. Use family approach in education with focus on women

Aquaculture is more women friendly and several of the activities like fertilization, feeding, marketing of fish, etc. are best done and managed by women. This is an area where major changes can be brought to farming by involving and empowering women on a massive scale.

  1. Diversification of species

Growing Indian major carps like catla, rohu and mrigal in smaller tanks has not been lucrative from the productivity point of view. Andhra farmers have shown the average productivity levels of 8 ton ha-1year-1 in large ponds with an average size of 4 ha. Research evidences indicate that it is advisable to focus on other medium size carps like bata, gonia, silver barb, etc., that can grow well in small ponds like those seen in Tripura.

  1. Seed certification

As the quality of seed being the key element, it is important to ensure that seed available in the market is regulated through a mechanism that helps the farmers to get an assured supply of quality seed. Certification of hatcheries could be an option that can be considered to ensure that quality of the seed is regulated at the production stage.

  1. Human resource development

There is a need to update the knowledge and skills of the staff through exposure and providing opportunity to gain experience in practical aspects. Department staff should be encouraged to pursue higher education in various disciplines in the best places of the world. Staff should be exposed to see some of the worthy aquaculture developments that have taken place in Asia.

  1. Improve information dissemination mechanisms to reach wider population

Media can be effectively used to communicate information, gather ideas and issues that may help research community to initiate research. Besides traditional communication mechanisms like radio, TV, newspapers, etc., schools can be used for dissemination of essential messages that can bring transformation in aquaculture practices.

  1. Provision of insurance coverage to aquaculture crop

Two major fears of farmers are poaching and poisoning which has been preventing many farmers to make investment in fish culture in Tripura. There is a need to evolve social fencing through community participation to prevent poaching and poisoning. In addition, providing crop insurance coverage would help farmers to invest in aquaculture and insurance companies are gradually entering in to this area in some parts of world.

  1. Invest and promote research

It is time to take critical look and find ways on investing resources in research by creating adequate support structures that will stimulate research environment. Fisheries department should explore ways to strengthen research division and promote farmers participatory research to solve location specific problems and evolve new technologies.

  1. Build knowledge and innovation centers at panchayat level

Suggest each panchayat to make a simple estimation on the amount of fish consumed, fish produced and the resources available within the panchayat area and develop a plan to achieve self sufficiency in fish production. This bottom up approach to build knowledge and innovation centers that could encompass wider area involving other sectors of agriculture may help to achieve better sustainability in food production front.

General strategies are to be adopted to ensure fish for all in Tripura

Major strategies to be taken to ensure fish for all in Tripura are given below-

  1. Reclamation of water bodies which are in most depleted condition and reclaimed to create effective area for fish cultivation. Creation of new water bodies within the limited scope and construction of mini-barrages in the tilla lands.

  2. Integrated fish farming should be popularized among farmers to get additional yield of fish to minimize the production cost as well as to provide nutritional security and self employment opportunity for the rural people.

  3. Fishery extension service should be strengthened so that transfer of technology from lab to land can be properly disseminated in the farmers' field.

  4. Stocking of advance fingerlings in reservoirs and rivers has to be adopted as a continuous process to avoid depletion of catch to supplement of the stocking. Freshwater prawn culture should be popularized among the fish farmers.

  5. Strengthening of domestic marketing system should be developed in proper way by developing proper infrastructure.

  6. Application of balanced diet in aquaculture is to be popularized to get maximum production. Production of low cost fish feed by utilizing local resources should be popularized among the rural poor fish farmers to minimize their level of input.

  7. Scientific aquaculture and technical guidelines regarding fish culture has to be published periodically in booklet, newspaper, leaflet, folder or by organizing workshop, radio talk, TV talk, etc. will motivate people more about fish culture.

  8. State govt. should initiate the attempt to bring progressive fish farmers from Andhra Pradesh or by sending the fish farmers of the state to Andhra Pradesh for arranging six month or one year training program.

  9. Periphyton base aquaculture has to be promoted among the fish farmer to minimize the level of input in the culture practices.

  10. Fishery co-operatives and SHG's should play an important role for systematic development of fisheries sector within the state. Adopting of local research finding in aquaculture should be implemented in the farmers' field quickly.

Conclusion

Tripura is an economically backward state in the Northeast region because mainly of low availability of infrastructure. Balanced growth of the state is possible only through the equitable distribution of resources. For this purpose, fishery department should encourage the participation of private sector and the cooperatives in all growth plans and will empower them to acquire knowledge and other skills and to have access to finance. This sector will play a key role in food security and in creation of more job opportunities to the needy and providing more fish to the populace at an affordable price. By adopting all the recommendations, then time will come when fish production may significantly increase and then we truly establish the slogan 'fish for all, all for fish'.


Figure: A good fish catch from a farmer's pond in Tripura, India


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