With the COVID wave wiping out the livelihoods of scores of people, rendering them jobless, many youths have come forward to eke out their living by taking to fishing in a big way, thanks to the slew of government subsidy schemes.
Hit hard by the pandemic with the music industry reeling under its impact, renowned Assamese singer, Bipin Chowdang of Khoomtai Chakalia under Mahmara Development Block of Charaideo district and his wife Monoshree Chowdang took to fishing with subsidy from the State Fisheries department.
The duo approached the Fisheries department for financial support and technical know-how. With government subsidy of Rs.5.04 lakh together with their share of Rs.3.36 lakh under the PMMSY 2020-2021, Bipin and his wife Monoshree completed excavation work of the new pond in an area of one hectare.
Both now have a longing for making their pond as an integrated fish farm and an agro tourism spot. “Their enthusiasm and dedication towards fisheries sector is exemplary and they have a desire to make it as an integrated fish farm and a spot for agro tourism,” said Pratul Deka, Fisheries Development Officer attached to Minister Fisheries.
Like Bipin and his wife, many educated unemployed youths who have been rendered jobless with no means of income have resorted to fishing in a big way to eke out their livelihoods with suitable subsidy from the government.
To provide employment to youths during the pandemic period, the Fisheries department has launched a new scheme for promoting intensive aquaculture through biofloc technology.
Fisheries Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said the scheme which has many takers will provide livelihood support to entrepreneurs, unemployed youths and interested progressive fish farmers and will also increase fish production in the state. “The scheme is most suitable for youths who face unemployment during the pandemic times,” said Suklabaidya.
The biofloc-based farming system is a new technology for promotion of intensive fish/ shrimp production in a small area. A person having small landholding (as small as 150-200 square metre of land) and having either municipal piped water supply or bore well water supply can establish this business with a small investment. “The programme aims to support fish farmers and young entrepreneurs for livelihood support,” he quipped.
The system is suitable for growing freshwater fish species such as Pava, Koi, Magur, Singhi, Common Carp, Pangasius, Rupchanda and Rohu depending on local market demands.
“A fish grows to about 200 grams within 3 months and 700-800 grams within 6 months. Therefore, depending on the local market demand, fish can be partially harvested on a daily basis to generate daily income,” said Deka.
Biofloc farming system is also suitable for urban and semi-urban areas. Deka said it can be set up even on terraces of buildings and backyard. “It offers live or fresh fish to surrounding customers thus fetching higher market prices for the producer. The unit cost for installation of a biofloc unit of two tanks is Rs 1.50 lakh, while a biofloc unit of 6 tanks costs approximately Rs 4 lakh.
Minister Suklabaidya said the government provides a subsidy of 40% while a 60% subsidy is provided to SC and ST beneficiaries. “This new and emerging technology would boost fish production and encourage small landholders and entrepreneurs to take up fish farming,” the Minister said, adding that the government would provide all technical knowhow for the project.
Biofloc farming has evinced keen interest among the educated unemployed youths. And this augurs well for the fishery sector of the state.