Fish is a nutritious product, widely consumed around the world in verities of food items. They are used in various traditional dishes such as Amritsari Fish, Tandoori Fish, Fish Tikka and Fish Pakora etc. and also consumed in modern dishes like burgers, pizzas and canned products. In addition, fish are also used in medicine and animal feed industry. Such factors contribute to making fish farming a viable project for investment.
Though fish farm can be planned and started with one acre of land area but the minimum economical unit is of 8 acre. As pond fish culture is preferred and most convenient way of fish culture under prevailing conditions, land with at least 40% clay content and less than 20% sand is appropriate to start a fish farm due to its acceptable water retention capability. Grass carp, silver carp, rohu, morkahi, bighead carp and Catla are cultured in warm areas of the country, whereas mahseer in hilly areas, and trout in cold regions.
How to do Successful Fish Farming in Pakistan
The commercial viability & success of a fish farm in Pakistan depends on the following factors;
- Selection of proper location with water, equipment and trained staff would facilitate the project to run successfully.
- Farm should have enough elevation so it can easily be dried out during off season.
- It should be positioned away from agricultural activities to avoid spray application of pesticides.
- Healthy certified seed must be purchased from certified dealers for the assurance of desired fish species.
- To attract larger number of customers, the product must be processed on basic quality standards.
- Each farm should maintain a written health and welfare program for elimination of diseases and quality production.
- Whole sale distribution and marketing of final product.
The marketing of fish follows the traditional channels of distribution. Generally fish are distributed in the market through middlemen and wholesalers. The role of middlemen and wholesalers is to identify buyers and negotiate the price. Fish are transported to the urban market and are sold to retailers. The time spent in getting fish from the farm to the retail shop varies from area to area. Although collection and handling of fish has improved with the use of loader vehicles, but it is an established fact that greater the distance between the farm and consumer, more complicated will be marketing system including their collection, handling and transportation to the middlemen or consumer as per perishable nature of the product. The trick in marketing is availability of current market information of fish supply and demand, which will determine the selling price.
The target customers for fish are households, hotels, restaurants, traders, retailers, wholesalers, processors and exporters. Fish production, trade and utilization in the world has been increasing dramatically fast due to the prevalence of huge demand. In addition to major cities e.g. Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Islamabad, there is an enormous export market to Middle East countries.
Fish Farming Procedure in Pakistan
A fish farm should start operations with a project capacity 10,117 fish of different species and different age for first 9 months cycle. The proposed fish species for the said project are Thaila, Moraka and Rohu. These species provide an ideal environment for fish farm management due to their specific feeding patterns. Rohu feeds near the water surface, Thaila in the middle and Moraka takes feeds from the bottom. This pattern will provide an efficient utilization of feeds and prevent feed losses. It is the choice of entrepreneur; however it is recommended that these species may be used in ratio of Rohu (40%), Thaila (30%) and Moraka (30%) respectively.
The overall production cycle for the inland fish farming comprises of 8-9 months which is mainly subjected to the life/age of the seed (specie). If fresh seed is used (with an age of less than 20 days) the production cycle will take 9 months for the production of desire output. It varies respectively with the selection of fish (seed) age. Keeping in view the economical prospective, it is suggested that fish with different age may be used for different ponds. Use of different ponds also help in fighting the diseases & predictors of fish.
Fish Farm Site Selection
The proposed location for the establishment of the fish farms will primarily be warm areas that provide suitable environment and particularly water temperature range of 5- 35 degree centigrade. It is suggested that the farms may be established in Mandi Bahauddin, Sialkot, Bahawalnagar, Vehari, Jhang, Muzaffargah, Gujranwala, Thatta, Badin, Dadu, Sibi, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Lasbela, D I Khan, Kohat, Mardan, Abbotabad etc.
The site for proposed fish farm will require proper surveying to determine the slope, bed of pond should be kept slight in slope to take advantage by allowing the water to flow as much as possible by gravity. This slope will provide water to move easily hence increase the natural oxygenation process and reduce the soil excavation due to water strike which ultimately results in the lowering of operational costs.
Water distribution channels should be placed on top of the pond dikes and the drainage channels from the ponds should be kept at the lowest point of the land. Effort should be made to utilize the natural attributes of the land to minimize capital costs and to facilitate the operational efficiency.
Soil Sampling & Fish Pond
Soil samples should be taken in account of the proposed site for analysis. These samples should be collected from the surface, middle and depth. The required lab tests are pH, soil composition (the ratio of sand to silt to clay), total dissolved salts, calcium and magnesium etc. Clay is most desirable for water retention in the fish ponds. If the soil is sandy at the surface but contains sufficient clay at an accessible depth, the sandy soil should be excavated completely, and the clay will be used for the final layers of the pond bottom and pond banks to minimize water losses.
The most appropriate pond type is the combination of both excavated/elevated ponds. If the soil has sufficient clay content, the dikes can be built from the soil that is removed during pond excavation, thus excavation costs are minimized. Elevated ponds are recommended for natural oxygenation and could be partially drained by gravity. The proposed project will be established on 8 acres of land, consisting of 7 ponds with an area of 1 acre per pond. Appropriate walkways must be designed between ponds for ease of management. Preferably a rectangular shaped pond is desirable. It should be constructed by excavation 2 to 3 feet soil and elevating for 4 to 5 feet from ground level. The crest of the embankment should be 4 to 5 feet and depth should not be more then 8 to 10 feet, having a minimum slope of 1 to 2 feet.
Water Requirements for Fish Farming in Pakistan
Water is the most essential component of inland fish farming. Normally two sources of water are preferred i.e. tube well and Irrigation canal water. Irrigation water comes from the entire catchments area of the drainage, thus it carries high loads of silt, and is subject to change in environmental conditions and water quality ( temperature changes, rainfall silt loading, alkali salt runoff, etc.) it may also carry a large number of trash/ carnivorous fish. In case of selecting irrigation water, proper filtration method must be used for obtaining the desire quality.
The water quality of the tube well should be analyzed, oxygenation is main problem with the tube well water, and arrangement must be made for oxygenation of water that can be accomplished by installing air blowers. Thus temperature and dissolved oxygen should be tested at the site. A sample should be taken in one liter bottle capable of being sealed and transported immediately to a lab for further examination analysis, tests of the total alkalinity, pH, nitrogen, salinity and total dissolved solids are required. The key water quality parameters for pond production are temperature, oxygen, pH, alkalinity, hardness and nitrogenous wastes.
Fish Species for Farming in Pakistan
In semi-intensive culture, practiced under controlled conditions of aeration and water exchange, following fish species with stocking density of 1250 to 2500 fish per acre are used in inland fish farm;
- Rohu is the major stocking species in this poly culture system and is 40% of the total stock. It is column feeder.
- Catla or Thaila fish stays on water surface and is phytoplankton feeder and is 30% of the total stock.
- Moraka is bottom feeder and is 30% the maximum of the total stock
Investment Required for Fish Farming in Pakistan
Total cost estimates is Rs. 2.08 Million with fixed investment of Rs. 1.72 Million and working capital of Rs. 0.36 Million. Given the cost assumptions, Project Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and payback are 34% and 3.6 years respectively. Details of financial analysis & requirements can be studied in the business plan of fish farming in Pakistan by SMEDA.