ICAR-CIFRI has adopted this wetland for production enhancement demonstration and started pen culture demonstration in February 2021 with a target of increasing the fish production up to 1000kg/ha/year within three years period under the leadership of Dr. B. K. Das, Director. For a demonstration of pen culture, six numbers of CIFRI Pen HDPE® of 0.1 ha were installed in the wetland and fingerlings of Indian major carp (1,20,000 nos about 710 kg) and grass carp (12,000 nos about 70 kg) were stocked in 5 pens. One pen has been stocked with fish seeds of small indigenous fish (SIF) Systomus sarana (19,250 nos about 55 kg). S. sarana, locally known as Sar Punti is an auto breeder and climate-smart fish rich in micronutrients. Thus, ICAR-CIFRI is promoting the Sarana Model in the wetland fisheries to enhance the SIFs production and to provide additional nutritional security to the rural households. Besides technical support and guidance, ICAR-CIFRI is providing inputs like fish feed (about 9.0 tons) and fish seed to the society. With all this support from ICAR-CIFRI, the co-operative society has raised the fishes in the pens and after attaining the size of 35 - 40 g, the fishes have been released into the wetland..
In July 2021 they have done their first harvesting where they harvested about 64 ton of fish which was valued at around Rs. 52 lakhs. Due to excessive rainfall post monsoon harvesting was not done in November 2021. This year, the co-operative society is harvesting the fish from last February 2022. On 18th April 2022, the 63rd day of harvesting a Fish Harvest Mela has been organized by ICAR-CIFRI with the active support of the Co-operative society. On this, harvest mela occasion, they have harvested about 250 kg fishes including the IMCs and other indigenous fishes. During these 2 months' long harvesting period, they have harvested about 15 ton of commercial fish of value around 30 lakhs. The harvested fish are marketed to the local market and the fish dealers. The market value of IMCs varies from Rs. 200-250/ kg. this wetland also gives some high valued indigenous fishes viz. snakeheads (Rs. 350-400/kg), Notopterus spp. (Rs. 250-300/kg) Anabas testudineus (Rs. 250-300/kg) and catfishes (Rs. 450-500/kg). Though the society faced a huge loss during the water flooding and they can’t harvest in a season, still the fishermen got a total of 79 ton fish which give a benefit of Rs. 82 Lakhs whereas in the year 2020-21 and 2019-20 they harvested about 73 ton and 87 ton of fish.
Besides, more than 500 active fishermen are regularly involved in fishing the small indigenous fishes such as Gudusia chapra, Amblypharyngodon mola, Systomus sarana, Puntius spp., Glossogobius giuris, Macrognathus spp., Catfishes, small-sized murrels etc. On average, they are catching the SIFs 3- 4 kg/day/person from that wetland for around 300 days in a year. Around 20% of the total SIF catch is used for their own consumption and the rest are marketed at the local market at a price of Rs. 100-250/kg. Thus, SIFs fishing is additionally generating around INR 10.0 crore per annum, which support the livelihood of the local fishers. The wetland was macrophyte infested with the Eichornia spp. ICAR-CIFRI has advised them to remove the macrophytes. During this harvesting process, the fishers generally cover an area of a small aquatic congregation. After covering the area, they clear the aquatic vegetation and catch the fish.
During the Fish harvest mela on 18-04-2022 at Duma, Dr. B. K. Das, Director, ICAR-CIFRI advised the fishermen to adopt the auto-stocked high-value minor carps in the wetland to improve their income and to conserve the Small Indigenous species. He also advised to stock grass carp to control the submerged macrophytes in the wetland as a biological control mechanism. A team of scientists and technicals were present in the Mela and advised the fishermen to adopt CIFRI technology and to save some amount from their profit to use as the seed money for fish stocking in the pen/wetland. The fishers of this wetland are happy and thankful to ICAR-CIFRI for its intervention toward sustainable wetland development. Dr. A. K. Das, Ms. Prajna R. Swain, Dr. Shreya Bhattacharya, and Ms. Supriti Bayan were part of the technical team of ICAR-CIFRI. Dr. P. K. Parida coordinated the programme.