Fish Farming In West Bengal, How To Start, Schemes

Introduction on how to start fish farming in West Bengal: Fish farming is also called pisciculture. Fishing and aquaculture sectors account for 1% of annual GDP in India, with the largest fish industries are West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. In India, rivers are the main source of irrigation, drinking water, and food. Fish farming is part of the fastest-growing food production in the world. Fish is a rich, tasty and healthy food that is low in cholesterol. Therefore, fish and fish-related products are in great demand all over the world.

Fish farming is a low-investment business that requires low maintenance costs and huge profits. Fish is in great demand all over the world. Fish is the source of more than 60% protein. There are usually two types of fish. They are;

(1) Freshwater [pond, river]

(2) From the sea.

The sea is the largest source of fish in every country, but this source is gradually decreasing. As a result, fish farming is needed. Now a day’s fish farming can meet more than 50% of the demand for fish in the market. With a large body of inland water for fishing, West Bengal is best known for its inland water fish production. According to tradition, fish is an important part of the diet in West Bengal and the fishing sector has been a major supplier of food. A strong consumer preference is freshwater fish; marine fish is mainly preferred in coastal and tribal mountainous areas. But the gap between supply and demand for freshwater fish, with rising prices, has led to a steady increase in demand for marine fish in other parts of the state. Calcutta plays an important role in the marketing of fish in West Bengal.

West Bengal is rich in all kinds of fishing resources, an abundance of rivers, reservoirs, water estuaries, lakes, ponds, beels, and baors, etc. This is a gift of nature to the people of Bengal. The people of this state also have a habit of consuming more fish. 80% of the state’s population eats fish – non-rural people eat more than rural people. With the constant demand of the global market, there is also a universal taste of fish. In addition, there are vast and diverse resources that remain untouched by a lack of infrastructure and technical facilities. There is unlimited potential for development in this sector.

A guide on how to start fish farming in West Bengal, government fish farming schemes, fish species in West Bengal

How to start fish farming in West Bengal
How to start fish farming in West Bengal (Image source: pixabay)

Fish production in West Bengal has been increasing over the years but the productivity of the fisheries sector has been slowing down over the years due to lack of high-quality fish seeds in adequate proportions, lack of marketing infrastructure, social And due to economic and environmental constraints and again, most farmers resorted to traditional technology due to the lack of fishing extension services. Due to legal issues between the owners, animosity, theft, lack of renovation of existing ponds, etc., have kept a large number of potential water reservoirs unproductive, which has contributed to closing the gap between supply and demand. About fish farm size, bird rearing, storage density, purchase of fish seed, nursery management, feed and feeding management, pond preparation, harvesting frequency, fish marketing method, aquaculture Sources of information, fish seeds and treatment of diseases, etc.

The role of fish farming in West Bengal

The need for nutrition is very important in a developing country like India where millions of rural people face malnutrition and hunger. Low protein intake indicates a lack of high-quality protein in the diet of Indians. Despite the rise of major sources of animal protein such as livestock and the poultry industry, the problem of protein deficiency continues unabated. Dietary protein deficiency is equally associated with the failure of the fish farming industry to supply the required amount of fish. This situation leads to poor health, low efficiency, low productivity, and poor quality of life, and a decline in the contribution of the fishing industry to gross domestic product (GDP). This problem can be overcome in West Bengal by producing fish through aquaculture. A large number of rural jobs are created in aquaculture. Small-scale fish farming requires less capital and more effort. Women workers can easily engage in fish farming. Fishermen not only work directly in fish farming but also in some other alternative occupations such as net making, fish seed, and fishing products, and transportation, etc.

The demand for fish in the rural areas of West Bengal has been increasing with time with increasing purchasing power and quality of life. Although the state has registered a significant increase in fish production, the supply in rural areas is declining due to the traditional fish production in situations such as rural rivalry, litigation, theft, breaking up of joint families. The system has failed. To meet the growing demand, there is a greater reliance on the supply of commercially organized, organized fish production units, locally called bheries’, and other fish-producing states. West Bengal has the highest fish production and demand in the country. Domestic demand for fish is high in West Bengal as almost all people in West Bengal eat fish. But there is more demand for fish than for fish production, meaning the state has a deficit in fish supply.

West Bengal is the leading producer of domestic fish and fish seeds in the country, adding 11.7 lakh tonnes of fish to the national food basket. In West Bengal, the fishing resources are ponds and tanks (2.76 lakh hectares), coastal aquaculture area about 400,000 hectares of land, and floodplain wetlands (42,000 hectares). The average fish production from ponds under FFDA is 2.7 tons/ha/year. West Bengal also has a 158 km long coastline with an annual fish production of 1.82 lakh tonnes.

Fish species in West Bengal

The largest fish-producing state in India is West Bengal. Catla is one of the freshwater fish in West Bengal and has high growth and market demand.

The fish is usually sold fresh, and it commands a good market price and consumer demand. Today, Catla fish are commercially farmed in many countries where it is available. The Catla is a fish surface and medium water feeder. The young are feed on both zooplankton and phytoplankton, but mature fish usually feed on zooplankton. For commercial fish farming, they can be fed on both natural and supplementary feeds. Commercial carp fish feeds are generally good for them to produce better.

Rohu and Katla are the main types of imports from other states. Because, due to a severe shortage of fish supply in West Bengal, fish prices are rising at a higher rate.

Best freshwater fish species in West Bengal

West Bengal freshwater fish showed 109 ornamental fishes, 92 edible fish, and 66 ornamental or edible fishes. Rohu, Katla, Mahseer, Magur, and Vaam being some of the more prominent names for freshwater fish found in Indian rivers.

Some other fish species are;        

Ritha – Ritha is a bagrid catfish species found in West Bengal. It is one of the giants of the genus, which is 150 cm long. It is caught commercially for human consumption. Due to its availability and low price, Ritha fish is a popular fish in the Indian market. Fish is available all year round.

Hilsa or Ilish Shad – Hilsa is a popular freshwater and brackish fish in India, especially in West Bengal. Fish is a popular dish in West Bengal.

Fishing methods in West Bengal

Fishing Gear and Methods –The drift gillnetting for Hilsa and other species and Behundi nets are the important fishing methods in West Bengal. They are used during the winter months, both in the summer as well as on the open seas. Bottom line fishing and gillnets are also used, but to a lesser extent, in both marine districts.

Set Bagnet – Locally known as Bahundi, Set Bagnet is widely used in West Bengal as well as in the open sea well as in estuary.

Fishing sectors in West Bengal – There are some fishing centers in West Bengal. The term ‘fishing center’ is used instead of ‘landing center’ as many important centers do not even have jetties. Several creeks and river inlets permit mooring of the craft near the village. The size and importance of a fishing center often depend on the season.

Cage fish culture in West Bengal

Cage aquaculture system involves fish farming in existing aquatic resources. Growing fish in cages, along with existing ponds, can be a source of income for landowners to grow fish and gain experience in aquaculture.

Cage culture requires relatively small financial investment. Feeding, sampling, observing and harvesting are all relatively simple. Ponds or water resources can still be used for other activities such as stock water or recreational fishing. Cage culture is a system of aquaculture production where fish are kept floating in net pens. Fish cage culture uses existing aquatic resources but locks the fish in cages or baskets, allowing water to flow freely between the fish and the pond, allowing water to be exchanged and waste to be disposed of in the surroundings. Cages are used to breed a variety of shellfish and finfish species in fresh, brackish, and marine waters. Freshwater cages are used to feed the fish culture and for fry to fingerling rearing.

The West Bengal Fisheries Department has decided to start fish farming across the state to meet the growing local demand and reduce dependence on neighboring states for supply. The fish cage culture system or cage aquaculture has throughout West Bengal. The brackish water bodies owned by the Fisheries Cooperatives and private owners along with the State Fisheries Development Corporation (SFDC) will be used for this purpose. Similar fish cage cultures have been developed by private organizations but on a much smaller scale. Make sure planning to come up with a very large, cage aquaculture floating frame fish farming method. They can be installed in reservoirs, rivers, lakes, or the sea. A catwalk and handrail have also been built around the floating cages.

Circular cages of different diameters (2 to 15 meters) are designed for cage culture, where varieties like milkfish, mullet, pearl spot, and shellfishes.

Cage Culture is gaining attention from both researchers and commercial producers. Cage culture could play an important role in fish production in West Bengal. Because of the low investment, this method of farming is ideal as an alternative source of income for small-scale fishermen and farmers. According to the initial plans of the Fisheries Department, 80 cages will be set up for cultivation. Initially, 80 cages will be used for fish farming. Of these, 18 cages will be used by SFDC and the rest will be distributed in the districts of 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, North and south, which will work for the culture of fish cages. Depending on the success of the venture in commercial terms, the Fisheries Department plans to launch similar activities in freshwater bodies and marine areas. West Bengal is considered to be the largest impounded brackish water in the country with an area of ​​2.10 lakh hectares after Odisha, Gujarat, and Kerala.

Step by step process to start fish farming in West Bengal

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Pond Fish Culture in West Bengal
Pond Fish Culture (Pic source: pixabay)

Step 1) Choose the right place for fish farming – There are several factors we need to consider when choosing land. This includes soil quality, size, and water source. Choose a place that is big enough. Also, consider your plans so that size does not limit you as you grow your business. Soil quality directly affects the quantity and quality of fish. You should test the soil to make sure it is at least 20% more soil. Also, check the relevant level of space. It is important to make sure that the area is not easily flooded. This will help prevent dirty water from entering the bond. There should be fewer rocks in the ground. The constant flow of water is the most important factor in fish farming. If you want to start in a rural area, it is important to find a place near a river, lake, or stream.

Step 2) Choose the type of fish farm – There are two types of fish farming, one of which is found for the production of baby fish and the other produces carp larger than baby fish. Most people prefer the second option because it is more profitable.

There are three types of fish farming based on profit.

Extensive fish farming – In this type of fish farming, you only need a pond and fish. Your fish does not need any special care. Fish is farmed on a small scale and requires very little investment.

Semi-intensive fish farming – In this type, you need a medium-sized pond. Your fish needs some care. The fish is medium-sized and requires some investment.

Intensive fish farming – This is the real fish farming. For this, you need a large pond. In this type of fish farming, you need hard work, money, and special care of the fish.

Step 3) Select appropriate Land Area – The next step in the process of how to start fish farming in West Bengal is to choose a good land area. This is in terms of size, soil quality, and water resources. To get this land, you can buy it or use your land.

Size – Choose land that is large enough. Consider your plans so that when you talk about growing your business, it will not limit you. Make sure the ground is large enough for your pond. Size is important because it will help you grow and expand your business in the future.

Soil – Choose a place with high-quality soil. This is because the quality of the soil directly affects the quality and quantity of fish you get. We recommend that you take soil for testing to make sure it is at least 20% more soil. Also, check the relatively equal place. It is important to make sure that the area is not easily flooded. This will help prevent wastewater from entering the bond.

Water – A constant supply of water is essential for the rearing of fish. Find a place where fresh and clean water is a barrier. Find a place near a river, lake, streams, or even boreholes.

Step 4) Preparing a pond for fish farming – A good pond is very important for fish farming. A clean pond with fresh oxygen water is best used for fish farming. A sample pond blueprint is shown in the image above. The depth of the pond should be a maximum of 2 meters. The depth of the pond is very important in mixed fish culture because different fish live at different depths of water. When you start farming your fish, you need to clean your pond properly because you want to get out the other fish that will eat your baby’s carp. To do this you first need to use Mohua oil cake then after 15 days use lime water (alkaline solution) to reduce the acidity in the water. Check water pH level after 10 days. For freshwater fish culture, the pH level of your pond water should be between 7 and 8.

Step 5) Know the skills required for fish farming – Some skills are important for starting a fishing business. Some governments run farms that run training programs. Also, we can learn skills by working on a successful fish farm. It will teach you how to control diseases, manage water quality, feed, and market. They are given below;

  • Firstly, you have consistent water quality.
  • Check if the water temperature level is suitable for fish farming.
  • Test the water in which you are farming both bacteriological and chemical fish.
  • Understand the latest technical methods of risk management and risk assessment.
  • Know about the permissions and legal requirements to start a fishing business in your area.

Step 6) Calculate the cost – There are two types of capital investment in the fishing business. These are fixed capital expenditures and operating expenses. Fixed capital costs include ponds, land, vehicles for transportation, oxygen meters, and several tanks, etc. Operating costs include taxes, telephone, transportation, and other maintenance costs. Before entering the business, you should prepare a detailed cost calculation for your fish farming project. The calculation will vary according to the type of fish, the cultivation of the fish, the total land area, and the desired yield.

Feeding management for fish farming

Like humans, fish should be well fed to grow healthy and fast. However, fish populations should be limited to ensure that they do not compete for food. Fish, especially tilapia, mostly eat algae, processed fish food, or aquatic insects. You can buy pellets made from soy, corn, vegetable products, and rice. With proper care and feeding of their fish, they will gain weight faster and grow faster. You can also increase the growth of algae in the pond just by adding a chicken dropping or fertilizer. They will grow faster, so they will provide additional sources of food. Feeding is best in the morning and the afternoon. Make sure you do not allow any unclean food in the fish pond for several hours. This is because it can be toxic. When buying supplements, make sure you insist on the species you breed because there are different supplementary foods for different species.

Diseases management for fish farming

Control diseases, parasites, and predators – Always keep fishpond clean to prevent the entry of parasites and diseases. You can get help and guidance from the aquaculture professional on the right medicines that you can use when treating sick fish.

Healthy fish are important for a fish farm, but sometimes you may have some problems with fish diseases. Diseases of fish are mainly due to poor water quality in the pond. Fresh water and low pH levels can cause disease in fish. Low oxygen in the water is another major cause of fish disease and can lead to fish death in ponds. Some fish diseases such as dropsy, fin rotten, and fish bladder problems are well seen. Use the right medicine to get rid of this disease.

Water resources for fish farming in West Bengal

West Bengal has vast potential for water resources. There is a lot of potential for aquaculture of fish using these water resources. These resources can be mainly divided into 2 categories;

  1. Inland and
  2. Marine

Inland resources are both capture and culture areas such as ponds, rivers, marshy lands, canals, reservoirs, etc. It should be noted that tanks/ponds occupy a large share of about 33.3% of the total inland water resources. But out of 2.88 lakh hectares under ponds and tanks, only 2.2 lakh hectares or 76.4% are currently being used for aquaculture, which means 23.6% is unused. Out of 6.55 lakh hectares, out of the total inland freshwater resources, only 1.48 lakh hectares of water area is brought under the aquaculture sector. And out of 2.1 lakh hectares, only 0.58 lakh hectares of total inland brackish water resources (24%) are brought under prawn culture i.e., 27.60% are currently used and 72.40% remain unused. These unused water resources can be brought under proper use through both freshwater pisciculture and saline water prawn culture.

Government support for fish farming in West Bengal

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Fish Cultivation In West Bengal
Fish Farming (Pic credit: pixabay)

The total demand for fish is higher than the production of fish in West Bengal. It has to import fish from other states to meet the demand for fish. 77.40% in inland freshwater resources and 72.40% in inland freshwater resources are still unused. West Bengal government is providing some attractive incentives for fisheries development. But a planned and long-term vision is essential for the overall development of aquaculture and the rural economy.

Fish production through aquaculture can be a better option to meet the demand for fish as well as earn money by exporting to other states and even other countries. This process can create huge employment for small and marginal fishermen and family members of fisher farmers. A polyculture or composite fish culture system should be followed. The overall survival rate of fish farming is 80%. Different species should be stored in a certain proportion as different types of fish live in different layers and eat the whole food organism which is called composite fish culture. In this situation, the ecosystem of the ponds should be maintained.

Aquaculture must be used scientifically. Some training at the grassroots level is required to use scientific methods of aquaculture. Aquaculture is a short-term crop that ensures an immediate return on investment. Fish harvesting can be tailored to market requirements to get better prices, such as during the festive or wedding season when fish demand is high and prices are high.

The Government of West Bengal encourages private entrepreneurs to invest in the following sub-sectors of the fisheries sector.

1. Fish Seed Mill (no single mill in West Bengal)

2. Aquaculture in large water bodies.

3. Installation of cold storage and ice plant.

4. Creating a modern fish market.

5. Establishment of the packaging unit.

6. Supply of medicines and other supplies.

The Government of West Bengal is providing some attractive incentives for fisheries development. These allied sectors also employ many people.

Harvesting and marketing in fish farming

Fish harvesting is done by using a net or draining away the entire volume of water. It should be noted that different species of food are obtained at different stages and weights. To get the most out of your food and provide your customers with quality fish, you need to make sure they are farmed properly and at the right time.

Fish marketing – Since doing business is actually looking at market trends and then making a profit, it is important to understand the business trend of agribusiness. Fish is considered a good source of vitamin D, omega-3, vitamin B2, and many more. Many people are giving up red meat for fish. This is an important reason why the raising of different aquatic species is a fast-growing sector. Most people eat fish. Research shows that about 500,000 people conclude that eating fish regularly increases a person’s lifespan. This shows that you have a ready market. However, the goal is not to take the fish too far, as this will reduce your profit margins and the quality of the fish. Good quality fish will enable you to perform better than the competition. Like any other business, this is a business you should be marketing.

Schemes for fish farming business in West Bengal

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Schemes for fish farming
Schemes for fish farming (Image source: pixabay)

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY)

RKVY is a special additional central assistance state scheme. Fish fingerlings of the above-mentioned fish seeds are procured through e-procurement along with the purchase of fish fingers in the RKVY scheme. In the case of the RKVY fish seed storage program, the Fish Seed Stocking Committee already formed applies to this program (NSP).

Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF)

The RIDF was established by the RIDF government in 1995-96 to finance ongoing rural infrastructure projects. The main purpose of the fund is to reduce the priority sector loans given to agriculture. Under FIDF, NABARD provides subsidized finance to fisheries infrastructure facilities through state governments. The Department of Fisheries is the nodal lending agency. It also supports fishing under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

NABARD also provides RIDF assistance to state governments to strengthen seed production infrastructure. Nursery rearing facilities for the production of marine and brackish water art fish and mud crab seeds need to be developed under the private sector.

National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)

Fish production and exports of marine products have multiplied over the past few years. In addition to contributing to foreign exchange earnings, the increase in fish production has also contributed to increasing the availability of protein-rich food, increasing employment opportunities, and increasing the income of fishermen belonging to the backward sections of society.

Activities Assisted;

  • Purchase of operational input such as fishing boats, nets, and engines.
  • Establishment of infrastructure facilities like marketing, transport vehicles, cold storage, retail outlets, and processing units, etc.
  • Preparation of feasibility reports.
  • Development of inland fishing, seed farms, hatcheries, etc.
  • Integrated Fisheries Projects like Marine, Inland, and Brackish Water.


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