Himachal trout farmers face market, transport contraints

Shimla: Trout farming has high potential in the state but has not developed fast enough due to various constraints, which includes difficulties in constructing circular ponds, availability of fingerlings, fish fee, marketing and lack of market access, a study conducted by Himachal Pradesh University has established.

The study carried out by Ranveer Singh, Meenakshi Sharma and Pratap Singh revealed that trout farmers depended upon water from traditional irrigation streams (Kuhls ) and about 65 % had constructed raceway with their own resources.

Whereas the construction cost of an average trout fish farm was Rs 2.65 lakhs, the annual net income per farm of those surveyed was about Rs 1.80 Lakhs.

The farmer depended up fingerlings and fish feed from the government hatcheries and fish farms. Providing fish feed was a constraint as the government owned Patlikuhl fish farm in Kullu had an annual production of 64.3 tons in 2006-07, which was not enough to meet the demand from farmers.

Average annual production of a small farm was 900 Kgs and that of large farm was 3400 Kgs, the study recorded. About 95 % of the fish produce was marketed and the rest was consumed by the family.

While outside the government sector, Himachal is the first state in the country to introduce trout farming in the private sector, the production which was 0.54 tonnes in 1996-97, increased to 25 tonnes in 2005-06 but dropped drastically to 11.44 tons in 2007-08 fetching a revenue of Rs 55.29 Lakhs.

The exotic cold water fish, considered a delicacy, was much in demand with high end hotels as 57 of the produce was sold to hotels in Delhi, the study reports.

Commanding a price of between Rs 221 to Rs 250 per Kg, the profit earned by the famer was over 35 % as worked out by the researchers.

A trout fish farm generated 213 days of employment in a year and provided as much as 41 % of average household income to those families who among other activities had taken to trout farming.

A small trout farm in Kullu

The study carried out by Agro- Economic Research Centre (AERC) Shimla on fish farms in Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Kinnaur districts revealed that lack of proper market for fish in the area, transportation and market intelligence were some of the problems faced by the farmers.

Of the 3000 Km of estimated network of state fisheries water resources about 600 Kms of cold water streams are conducive for trout farming. In the state, Rainbow and Brown trout, first introduced by the British, are being farmed.

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