GUWAHATI, April 23 - Every week, ornamental fish worth Rs 20 lakh is imported to Assam, mostly from Kolkata, the production of which in Assam is negligible despite the fact that some of the exotic species produced in the State are of better quality.
And now a nondescript village in Nagaon�s Dhing is witnessing the dawn of a �rainbow revolution� in Assam, as a group of farmers gives shape to the State�s first �ornamental fish village�.
From a humble beginning way back in 2012, as many as 52 farmers of Aathgaon village, about 23 km from Nagaon town, are now involved in breeding ornamental fish. Backed by technical support from institutions like Fishery College (Raha), Dhing College, KVK (Nagaon), State�s fisheries department and National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), the farmers are now producing around 3.5 lakh ornamental fishes of eighteen varieties and supplying them in some six districts of the State.
Leader of the farmer�s group, 39-year-old Partha Rathi Hazarika is a science graduate (industrial fish and fisheries) from Nowgong College.
�Around 20 years back, I had visited Kerala and had worked in some ornamental fish farms there and even in Kolkata. I was attracted to the field. I came back and started an aquarium service centre at Nagaon. This was followed by some exposure visits to places like Hyderabad under the aegis of NFDB, NABARD and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA). Soon I began breeding some ornamental fish species in twelve small tanks on the premises of my residence in Nagaon town,� Hazarika told The Assam Tribune.
By then Hazarika had bigger plans. In 2012, he initiated an ornamental fish farm at a plot of three-katha land at Aathgaon village.
Five years on, the farm now has an aquarium house (400 sq ft), 40 concrete tanks in 2.5 katha land and another 50 terracotta tanks in the periphery. He roped in the curious villagers and one by one trained and involved 52 of them in the trade.
�Mostly they are women. They have built small ponds in their houses and are breeding the fish using traditional pisciculture techniques. Of the eighteen species we have, four are indigenous. The prices of the fish are in the range Rs 10 to Rs 300 per fish,� he said, adding that though their production capacity is five lakh, they are yet to reach the target.
The farmers are also making the fish feed themselves.
According to fishery officials here, locally produced ornamental fish is priced about 25 per cent less than those from Kolkata. Besides, there is no transportation costs involved. The quality of some species bred here are better than those of Kolkata.