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E-Pao! Opinions - Ornamental Fish Culture A Million US $ For Living Of North Eastern States Of India

Ornamental Fish Culture A Million US $ For Living Of North Eastern States Of India

By: Ingochouba (Chou) Lukram *



In India the North Eastern states is taking a main role in the ornamental fish market; The North Eastern states contribute around 85% of the total market and the rest comes from the southern states of India. The North Eastern states includes Manipur, one should keep that in mind and we, Manipuri people, should try to join in this type of business and should think of growing our poor but highly educated people in sharing this million US dollars business for our living.

Though keeping ornamental fishes as pets has long been fancied as hobby, but it could be commercially exploited to earn a living. The government of India is also giving financial assistance to the interested people. Apart from financial assistance form the rural, co-operative and national banks, Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) provides support to the fishermen and unemployed youths for setting up ornamental fish breeding units.

MPEDA - headquartered at Kochi, Kerala has several offices throughout India. MPEDA has recently opened an office in Guwahati , Assam to encourage more local youths and fishermen of North Eastern states to develop this sector. They provide upto 10% assistance to FOB value of the ornamental fishes exported to overseas. There is a 50% subsidy up to Rs. 40,000/- loan amount to set up a unit.

Besides providing 10-15% of freight subsidy, MPEDA also helps the culturists to participate in International trade fairs like INTERZOO and AQUARAM.

The diversified Indian aquatic environment harbors about 2118 species of fishes. The country has about 600 fish species that have promising market as ornamental fish. The North Eastern region homes around 300 native ornamental fish out of the 806 freshwater fishes found in India.

The Global Ornamental fish trade is estimated at around US $ 9 BILLION (FAO 2000). The US leads the import market followed by EU and Japan. The Asian countries export more then 50% of the aquarium fishes globally. Singapore is the epicenter of all the Asian trade and is the largest exporter of ornamental fishes in the world.

What Singapore do is they locally imports ornamental fishes form the Asian countries and then exports them to the US, EU and Japan. Fresh water fish are so valuable and it represents 90% of the trade as against 10% marine fishes. Because keeping a marine aquarium is not a easy job for the hobby person.

North Eastern states totally depend in the Indian system so India is the natural abode of the entire gamut of ornamental fishes available in the subcontinent. Due to ignorance about this lucrativeness of the trade and lack of technical competence of this million-dollar sector, India only managed to export ornamental fishes worth around 30 million rupees.

POOR IN ?
Inability to recognize our natural resources, unavailability of easy funding, absence of local exporting agencies, lack of suitable low-cost breeding technologies and transportation facilities are the major hurdles in the speedy growth of this potential industry in India.

Inaccessibility of oxygen packaging and improper knowledge about conditioning before transportation cause substantial death to the fishes, especially in rural areas. Unlike other Asian countries, the native ornamental fishes are mostly collected from wild as against captive breeding in India.

There is a huge demand for exotic ornamental fishes in India. The domestic ornamental fish market is worth around Rs 500 million and the demand is increasing at 20% annually. The total global export market for ornamental fish is estimated at US $ 427 million.

Fishes from the North Eastern states can be exported to lucrative international markets such as the US, JAPAN, UK, GERMANY, SPAIN, HOLLAND VIA SINGAPORE through the international airports at Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Trivandrum and Kochi.

TO MY FELLOW MANIPURIS
As a Meitei ( KANGLEICHA, Manipuri) I would like to suggest some thing to my loving brother and sisters to start this good business:
Development of ornamental fish industry would benefit the rural youths to earn a living from the surrounding natural resources. A bonafide strategy should be framed out in order to export the ornamental fishes:
either collected from nature or breed the native species in captivity to the overseas market.

Breeding of exotic fishes for the domestic market also fetches an appreciable price and breeders should initially venture in the exotic fishes to avoid loss.

It is convenient to breed the native fishes in captivity only after gaining experience in exotic fishes. The breeder should have practical knowledge about the breeding behavior of the native species before breeding them.

As the breeding units do not require much investment and special infrastructure facilities, it can be easily adopted by poor farmers and unemployed youths. If this fishery sector were nurtured as a potential industry, it would generate employment and flourish the economy of the Manipur, then North Eastern states and then finally India through export to earn huge foreign exchange.


* Ingochouba (Chou) Lukram, a research scholar at Aquaculture Lab, Department of Zoology, University of Delhi, writes regularly to e-pao.net
He can be contacted at [email protected]
This article was webcasted on March 26, 2005.





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