Butwal/Bara, March 14, 2017: Bara and Rupandehi districts in the southern plains have seen a new investment wave in aquaculture due to high returns and growing demand. Farmers have been switching to raising fish and giving up growing their traditional crops.
Farmers started becoming interested in fish farms after the government launched a fish mission programme five years ago in both these districts. Now, the 10-year Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, launched this fiscal year, is expected to give a further boost to commercial aquaculture.
The project envisages adopting modern farm techniques to boost productivity and making the country self-reliant in food.
This year, new fish ponds are being constructed on more than 500 hectares in Rupandehi. Under the project, the government is investing Rs170 million. Rupandehi has been selected as a fishery zone, while Bara has been selected as a fishery super zone.
The fishery zone programme will cover eight village development committees (VDCs) of Rupandehi, with Dayanagar becoming the centre, said Makbul Ali, chief of the project. “The objective of the project is to achieve import substitution and make the country self-reliant in fish by boosting productivity.”
Dayanagar VDC has established itself as one of the model villages for fish farming. Commercial fish farming is done on 1,000 hectares here, and there are nearly 4,000 fish ponds in Rupandehi.
The district has a potential to produce 8 tonnes of fish per hectare. Last year, the district produced 4,205 tonnes of fish valued at Rs400 million, said Bhoj Raj Sapkota, chief of the District Agriculture Office. In the previous year, the district had recorded an output of 3,800 tonnes of fish.
Sapkota said that production was expected to jump 50 percent after the project is implemented. According to farmers, raising 100,000 fingerlings will yield an income of Rs2 million. Fish are normally harvested for five months to a year.
Meanwhile, the government will be spending Rs370 million in this fiscal year to promote Bara as a fishery hub under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project.
The number of farmers setting up fish farms and fisheries in the region has increased over the years due to high returns. “The objective of the project is to attract youth to take up fish farming and stop their migration abroad,” said Yugal Kishore Tiwari, chief of the project in Bara.
Under super zones, Simroungadh in Bara will be promoted for fishery. Under the super zone scheme, the project will help farmers establish fish nurseries, dig ponds and establish post-harvest centres, he said.
The project will mobilize Rs300 million to dig 9,500 new fish ponds and Rs25 million to establish fish nurseries on 50 hectares of land.
Bara has a huge fish production potential with a productivity of 6 tonnes per hectare against the country’s average of 2 tonnes. The district produces 10,000 tonnes of fish worth Rs2 billion annually.
By Amrita Anmol and Laxmi Sah