Trout farming set to go modern
Kashmir’s famed trout, a cold water sports fish which was imported here more than a century ago from Scotland, is ready to go through a modernisation phase as the state government plans to bring foreign consultants and technology to increase its production and sale.
The state’s Fisheries Department is planning to expand the scope of trout farming with a two-pronged strategy of infusing modern farming techniques and promoting the involvement of private sector.
RK Dogra, director, Fisheries Department, said a massive modernisation and privatisation drive was being planned to boost the production and sale of trout. “Since the formation of new ministry, the department is emphasing to privatise the trout culture on a massive scale,” he said.
The idea to modernise the trout farming has been envisaged by Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Sajad Gani Lone. “The aim is to increase the production manifold so that trout is exported to other cities and also to foreign countries,” Dogra said.
The department is now discussing the issue of modernisation with foreign consultants and is seeking funding for the project from the National Fisheries Development Board. “We have initiated the process and are expecting progress soon,” the director said.
J&K has a Mother Trout Unit in south Kashmir’s Kokernag and 44 subsidiary trout rearing units which are spread across the state, including in the remote Ladakh region. The trout seed production in the state has increased to 90 lakh ova during 2013-14 and its production touched 262 tonnes during 2013-14. “We are expecting a 10-fold increase in production with the introduction of modern technology,” Dogra said.
The modernisation will include breeding, rearing, hatching and sale components. “The modernisation will also focus on marketing through freezing and refrigeration,” he said.
The trout was first introduced in the Valley in the early 20th century by FJ Mitchel, who operated a carpet factory in Srinagar. Since then, trout has become a part of Kashmir’s ecology.
The fish catch in J&K reached 20,000 tonnes in 2013-14, an increase of more than 1,000 tonnes in a decade, compared to 18,460 tonnes in 2000-01. The current population of fishermen in J&K is around 93,000.
The state has a huge potential for fish farming. According to official figures, 27,781-km-length of rivers and streams can facilitate farming of more than 40 million tonnes of fish.