KALAIGAON, March 7 - People of Udalguri have hailed the work and effort of Bishop Basumatari, a well-known fish farmer of the district for receiving national-level felicitation for the promotion of fish farming and fish breeding in the district with special reference to catfish breeding.
The felicitation programme was organised by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at Patna on February 22 last. Giriraj Singh, Minister of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Government of India attended the ceremony as the chief guest while Dr Prem Kumar, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries of Bihar government attended as the distinguished guest.
A total of ten successful farmers from Assam were felicitated of whom Bishop Basumatari was the lone fish farmer. A resident of Bagariguri village in Udalguri district, Bishop Basumatari had long years of sweet and sour experiences in fish farming and breeding since 1993. He purchased a plot of three bigha land for fish farming that year. But his financial status didn�t support him. Not disappointed, he contacted a private construction company engaged in the construction of the SDO (Civil) building at Udalguri in 1993. The contractor offered an amount of Rs 10 only per truck of soil required for earth work. That way, Basumatari earned Rs 5,000 as his base capital, which he paid for earthen boundary of the 350 feet long, 120 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep pond. The following year in 1994, he completed digging with the help of nearby villagers. He released some Indian Major Carps (IMC). To his utter disappointment, he could harvest only five number of fishes the following year in 1995 weighing one kg each. He learned a big lesson that without good quality seeds, fish harming was impossible.
Basumatari also realised the importance of training for the first time. He approached S Pathak, District Fishery Officer, Darrang for advice and training. He attended a 15-day government sponsored training in 1999. Later under official supervision, he collected eight lakh four-days old �spawns�. After six/seven months he sold the �carried over� seeds at the rate of Rs 200 per kg thereby making a good profit of Rs 35,000. Inspired by his new knowledge and technique, he started a new chapter in his life.
In 2010 Basumatari started captive breeding of Assamese cat fishes (magur) after undergoing a BTC-sponsored training at Bhubaneswar in Orrisa. He was also felicitated at Agartala in Tripura at the north-eastern level programme as the only fish farmer from Assam. But his mission to make successful breeding and rearing of local Assamese cat fishes has not yet materialised. Talking to this correspondent, Bishop Basumatari said that due to non-availability of necessary infrastructure in Udalguri district, he could not continue Assamese cat fish farming. The people of Udalguri have requested government agencies to come forward to provide a better infrastructure for the promotion of Assamese cat fish farming.