An alien fish specie originating from the river basins of Thailand and Vietnam but holding 30 pc slice of Varanasi fish market, holds the promise of ushering a silver revolution for fish farmers in the region.
Pyasi as it's popularly known among fish lovers of Varanasi, (the Pangasiodon hypothalamus/Pangassius hypothalamus) can quench fish farmers thirst for prosperity in this region by assuring them an output of 20 tonnes from ponds which occupy one hectare or more area.
A special training programme to promote culture and farming of Pyasi/Pangus among fish farmers was organized at Varanasi by National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), which concluded on Monday.
At the workshop experts, including National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Lucknow Dr AK Singh and fisheries expert from Kolkata Pawan Tiwari interacted with 60 progressive farmers and encouraged them to start Pangus/Pyasi fish farming to make their businesses more profitable.
Presently, the Pyasi fish (originating from Mekong River Delta in Vietnam and Chao Basin in Thailand) is being sourced from Andhra Pradesh, where the central government has recommended for widespread production, as the ten amino acids which it renders to the human body, could effectively help in tackling the problem of malnourishment.
While the Indian variety of this fish of the Cat Fish family has become extinct, this alien variety from South East Asia, now being cultured in Andhra Pradesh, fetches a price of Rs 35 to Rs 40 kg, thus falling within the reach of even the most poor fish lovers.
At a time when average fish output from each of the 875 fish-ponds covering 500-plus hectare area in Varanasi is pegged at three tones, this white coloured fish from the Cat Fish family, will render an output of 20 tonnes from each pond which is one hectare or more in area and thus usher a silver revolution.
Said Dr Arvind Mishra, the Chief Executive Officer of Fisheries in Varanasi, while talking to HT on Tuesday, "the NFDB training programme which spanned for five days was aimed at promoting Pangus fish farming in the region and attended by 60 progressive fish farmers."
But to gain from a prospective silver revolution, the fish farmers will have to shun present practice of farming six fish varieties and instead go for singular culture/farming of the Pangus/Pyasi (as the Pangus coexist with the six varieties being cultured by fish farmers here), which will not be viable.
Replacing existing practice of composite fish farming of six fish varieties (three indigenous varieties - Rohu, Katla and Mrigal and three carp varieties - Silver Carp, Grass Carp and Common Carp) may benefit fish farmers economically, but will have a harmful impact on population of the six fish species presently being cultured in this region, Dr Mishra added.
Varanasi district houses 875 ponds (where fish farming is active) covering 500 hectares, with 375 ponds being of size of one hectare or more. "Pyasi fish farming could be the most viable option for farmers owning ponds whose size is one hectare or more. These farmers can partition their big ponds to ensure that while the six popular varieties being cultured by them continue to flourish, the Pangus/Pyasi farming can be started in the other portioned pool which must be of the size of one hectare or more."
Farmers owning smaller ponds can also benefit from a prospective silver revolution by having new ponds with an area of one hectare or more and starting Pangus farming in the new ponds singularly, Mishra maintained.