The National Research Centre for Riverine and Lake Fisheries in Haa is challenged in availing feed to supply to farmers interested in trout farming.

Programme director at the centre, Singye Tshering, said that unlike feed for fish in warm-water, it was difficult to avail feed for cold-water species, as neighbouring countries are warm-water oriented. “Trout feed is partly imported from Kashmir and other sources.”

He said that almost 3,000 to 4,000 metric tonnes (MT) of feed is consumed in the country annually, which amounts to about Nu 800 million (M). Singye Tshering said there is high demand for fish in the country and it is important to promote the culture among people.

The centre has received several proposals for trout farming.  He also said that trout is a high-value fish and the only fish that can be exported. “When private fisheries grow, the demand for feed will also grow.”

Singye Tshering said recognising the difficulty in availing the feed the agriculture ministry is in the process of procuring budget to help the centre establish a feed mill to promote fisheries in the country.

He said it was found that the centre would help set up about 15 private farms in the 12th Plan. “The centre would provide technical assistance, conduct feasibility studies, and train staff to build capacity in aquaculture.”

Introduced in 2008, rainbow trout is reared in Damthang and Tshaphel in Haa today. Singye Tshering said that the centre aims to produce fish seed to supply to farmers and is focused on stocking rivers and lakes. “It is to ensure that the fish is conserved and used in a sustainable manner.”

The fish are also reared in the centre as an interim measure. “To promote and develop a fish culture in the country, strengthening the research centre was important.”

He said that the centre would explore ways to ensure food security and substitute imports. “Trout farming is a new initiative and still evolving, and getting feed is key to developing potential trout fisheries.”

Rinchen Zangmo