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Floods sink fish farmers

Farmers engaged in pisciculture have been dealt a double blow. If the Barak and its tributaries have swamped their fisheries, loans from financial institutions have left them neck deep in debt.

According to the Cachar fisheries office at the district headquarters of Silchar, 9,000 tonnes of large and small species of fish — worth lakhs of rupees — were washed away by the floods in Cachar.

District fisheries officer Amanat Ali said never before had the fishery business been affected so much by floods. “Seventy per cent of fish being reared in about 20,500 registered fisheries were washed away.”

Farmers in Borkhola and Kalain blocks have been affected the most. Many farmers had cleaned their fisheries and tanks in recent years in accordance to the norms enunciated by the World Bank.

The World Bank had provided the expertise to ensure an increase in the produce and number of fry per hectare as part of a special package for farmers involved in pisciculture in the state. It also extended financial help to the farmers for increasing per hectare output.

Sources in the fisheries department said farmers of Kalain block in western Cachar had suffered the most. Fisheries in Kalain have earned the epithet “Andhra Pradesh in Barak Valley” as the farmers here breed fish following the practice of their Andhra counterparts.

On an average, Cachar produces about 11,000 tonnes of fish annually.

Source: The Telegraph, Calcutta