DIBRUGARH, April 16 � A young former Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) jawan is turning out to be a catalyst of change in a largely agrarian environment in the remote Nakhangia Hatibondha village, some 36 km from here. The SSB soldier-turned-farmer, Haren Chetia shows no remorse for forsaking his job as he draws contentment in taking up pisciculture activities in a huge scale.
Chetia owns altogether 18 bighas of pisciculture. He started off with three bighas of pond in 2011 and after realizing its potential, he kept expanding it to the present size. He has also provided job opportunities to some five youths.
The former SSB jawan, who is only 35 years old, said that pisciculture is cost-effective and can sustain several families. �Lands which are not fit for tea plantation or paddy cultivation can be converted into ponds. I converted three bighas of my paddy field into a pond because I was not even getting the minimum harvest due to the swampy nature of the plot. I took up on a trial basis, but since it gave me good returns, I decided to stick to the venture and kept on expanding,� Chetia told The Assam Tribune.
Haren Chetia says that he was earning about Rs 23,000 during his initial days in the SSB, but now he has been profiting much more than his earlier salaries. �I had to leave the job because I had no one to look after my ailing old mother. I regret for having failed to see the last days of my father. He passed away when I was in the job. My elder brother too is in the SSB, so I opted to sacrifice my job,� he said. Chetia served in the SSB for seven years.
With the constant advice from the project manager of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), David Ekka of Tengakhat block, Chetia is also taking steps to rear fish in an organic and natural set-up. Unlike several others, he avoids using chemicals in his ponds. Chetia has decided to start integrated fish farming very soon. Haren Chetia�s wife, Juri Chetia recently underwent training under the NRLM on pisciculture at Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat.
The varieties of fish reared in Chetia�s ponds are bahu, chital (humped feather back) grass carp, mirika (mrigal), rohu, cheni puthi, bighead and few others. The biggest fish caught in his pond was a bighead, weighing a little less than 8 kg. Other big-size fishes caught were chital and bahu.
Today, pisciculture has become one of the major income generating activities for the young and well built soldier-turned-farmer. The venture has enabled him purchase additional plots for expansion, buy a vehicle, and support his family and children, besides his ailing mother. He has also managed to give away his two sisters in marriage. Several youths from the surroundings have been motivated by Chetia and many have started in small scales.