Peshawar - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government is establishing about 287 trout fish farms mostly in Malakand and Hazara divisions with an estimated cost of Rs1286.914 million in order to increase production of meat, exports and provide healthy seafood to the people.
Muhammad Zubair, Deputy Director Fisheries Department, said that KP was blessed with abundance of cold water reservoirs, lakes and favourable climate conditions mostly suited for trout fish farming.
To take full advantage of this God-gifted potential, he said the Fisheries Department had accelerated work on establishing 287 trout fish farms mostly in Malakand and Hazara divisions to bolster meat production and fish exports to Afghanistan, Central Asian States (CASs), Gulf and others international markets.
He said that under the project of ‘development of water fisheries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ these farms were being established with an estimated cost of Rs1286.914 million in different districts of KP mostly in Malakand and Hazara divisions due to its favourable and cold climate besides abundance of water reservoirs suited for trout’s farming.
The federal government, he said, would contribute Rs514.766 million and KP government would inject Rs772.148 million in the mega project to be completed by 2023-24.
The five-year project was launched in 2018-19 under the Prime Minister Emergency Agriculture Programme costing about Rs309.7 billion for effective utilisation of land and water resources, promotion of trout farming, undertaking programmes for fish seed production.
“These farms are being established with the help of private sector on a 50:50 cost share basis. About 50 percent cost would be borne by beneficiaries and remaining by the government,” he added. Muhammad Zubair said that proposals for 91 feasible sites had already been submitted to Director General Water Management for construction of trout farms in different districts of the province.
Applications from interested parties for establishment of farms on 50:50 cost sharing basis had already been invited and survey for selection of feasible sites completed.
Increasing fish production was a cornerstone of PTI government Agriculture and Fisheries Policy 2018-25, he said and added that the government was focusing on building of new model hatcheries, rehabilitation of existing trout and carp hatcheries besides establishment of model trout farms in the province including merged areas.
Under the project, Rs150 million would be spent on establishment of a cold water fisheries’ training and research centre in Swat where farmers and students would be provided training on conservation, production, breeding and marketing of trout farming. Contract for setting up cold water fisheries training and research centre had already been awarded, he maintained.
The government, he said, would construct a model trout hatchery at Mansehra with an estimated cost Rs88.284 million from where fish stock would be provided to others hatcheries in Hazara division and districts of KP at affordable prices.
The site for establishment of a model trout hatchery at Siran Valley in Mansehra was selected and construction work was started after acquiring land, he said.
He said most of trout hatcheries constructed in the past required renovation and up-gradation to enhance production’s capacity. The official said that Rs144.517 million would be spent on rehabilitation and up-gradation of existing farms.
Construction work on renovation and up-gradation of Dubair Hatchery in Lower Kohistan district, which was washed away during 2020 flood, would soon be started.
The official said that high bread eye-ova (trout fish seed) would be imported and handed over to farmers and fish growers for breeding on which about Rs100 million would be spent. Besides purchase, maintenance and equipment with allocation of Rs121 million, interest-free loans would also be provided to farmers for establishment of feed mills, processing plant and cold storage with an estimated cost of Rs40 million besides utilisation of Rs29.274 million on provision of seeds and others services and Rs67.690 million for recruitment of staff.
Muhammad Zubair said that beneficiaries would take loans from commercial banks and their interest would be paid by the project. He said KP was currently producing over 350 metric tons trout per year, which would be taken to 645 metric tons by the year 2023.
Regarding fish seed production, he said that current production was 1.4 metric tonnes and by 2023 it would be taken to 2.5 metric tonnes. He said Pakistani trout was being preferred in Gulf and other international markets due to its quality meat and there was a huge potential to increase volume of trade with CARs, Afghanistan and Gulf in meat sector.
Muhammad Zubair said that merged areas of KP, especially Kurram, Tirah valley in Khyber and North Waziristan districts were suitable for trout farming and 13 trout farms would be setup in Kurram.
Fish meat consumption in KP, he said, was comparatively low than other meat products due to its relatively high prices. Construction of these new trout farms and hatcheries would help increase fish consumption in the province besides bring prices down.
Under the Prime Minister Emergency Agriculture Programme, he said that priority was being given on enhancing fish production through replenishment of fish resources in natural water bodies through quality breeds, aquatic research, conservation programme, co-operative fishing besides introduction of new and fast growing fish varieties.
He said 200 new model fish farms were established by the PTI government in the province and efforts were underway to increase it to 600 by 2023.
The KP government, he said, was facilitating the private sector by providing fish seeds besides professional training to farmers. More than Rs85 billion would be spent on development of agriculture, livestock and fisheries during the five-year tenure of the PTI government, Zubair said.