Commercial fish farming gaining pace in MorangMorang is gradually becoming self-sufficient in fish as commercial farming has spread in the district.
Morang is gradually becoming self-sufficient in fish as commercial farming has spread in the district.
Nelson Pokharel, a fishery development officer at the District Agriculture Development Office, said that the number of fish ponds had been increasing in the past few years as more farmers were taking up fish farming.
The demand for fish has been swelling in Nepal with the people becoming more conscious about health and nutrition. However, domestic production falls short of the requirement. As a result, Nepal has been importing fish worth more than Rs1.5 billion annually from India.
Pokharel said that 3,500 farmers were currently involved in fish farming in Morang. Among them, 500 farmers are engaged in commercial farming. Morang district produces 2,340 tonnes of fish annually in its 3,500 fish ponds.
The District Agriculture Office said that fish production in the district had been increasing at the rate of 10 percent annually over the last five years.
As per the figures of the Directorate of Fisheries Development, fish imports from India have been dropping by 5,000 tonnes annually in Morang. In the last five years, fish imports from India have shrunk 60 percent due to the growth of commercial fish farming locally.
An estimate shows that entrepreneurs have invested more than Rs2.5 billion in commercial fish farming in recent years.
Nandan Thapa, general secretary of the Fish Producers Association, said that a pond spread over 1 kattha in a commercial fish farm yields fish worth Rs11,250. The district has been producing 4 tonnes of fish per hectare with the traditional fish farming system. However, a pond spread over 1 hectare can yield 7-9 tonnes of fish under the commercial farming system, Thapa said.
Malbabu Sahani, president of the Fish Sellers Association, said that locally produced fish was gradually replacing imported fish in Biratnagar. “Around 70 percent of the fish sold here used to be imported from India, but the scenario has changed now,” he said.
He added that Biratnagar used to import more than 150 tonnes of fish monthly from India. “Now, imports have dropped to 100 tonnes per month.”
Fish produced in the northern part of Morang is shipped to Itahari, Damak, Urlabari, Pathri and other markets in the Eastern Region. Fish is imported from Andhra Pradesh, Kathihar, Forbesganj and Purnia in India.
According to officials, 65 percent of the fish ponds in Morang are owned by private operators and 23 percent by public enterprises while 12 percent are located in wetland areas.