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Scaling New Heights: Challenges and Triumphs in Himachal’s Trout Farming

In a picturesque tale from Himachal, the trout farming landscape is witnessing a commendable surge in production, yet farmers grapple with the intricate challenge of marketing their cold-water treasures to distant markets like Delhi and Chandigarh.

Despite an impressive rise in trout production, farmers in Himachal Pradesh face hurdles in reaching broader markets. The majority of these dedicated farmers resort to unconventional means, sending their fresh produce to Delhi via night buses from the scenic town of Manali. Notably, there is a robust demand for trout fish in the upscale hotels of Manali, providing a local outlet for small-scale farmers.

Vivek Chandel, Director of Fisheries, expressed the department’s commitment to supporting farmers in marketing their trout. However, as of now, the assistance is limited to providing fingerlings (fish seed) and feed. He highlighted that farmers have successfully established partnerships with hotels in Delhi and Chandigarh, fetching approximately Rs 1,000 per kg for trout in these markets. In Manali, the local demand allows them to secure about Rs 750 per kg.

Despite the potential for growth, there is a notable absence of retail sales of trout within Himachal. Local markets lack demand, possibly due to the higher cost of trout compared to other available fish varieties.

The Fisheries Department operates nine trout farms across the state, primarily serving as demonstration farms for training purposes. However, these farms contribute only eight to 10 metric tonnes annually. In contrast, the increasing interest from 650 farmers in trout farming resulted in a collective production of 1,178 metric tonnes this year.

Himachal embraced the Danish strain of trout in 2020-21, shifting from the Norwegian technology previously employed. Rainbow trout, being the predominant species cultivated, is favored for its faster growth compared to the slow-growing brown trout, which the department introduces into cold-water streams for angling.

With the government providing subsidies, including a 60% subsidy for SC/ST and women for trout farming structures, the industry is attracting attention in Kullu, Shimla, Kinnaur, Mandi, Chamba, and Sirmaur districts.

The journey of Himachal’s trout farming, marked by successes and challenges, showcases the need for continued support, market exploration, and scientific innovation to ensure sustainable growth and economic benefits for the dedicated farmers in the region.

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