Fish farming has been enhanced manifold times as a result of growing interest among the people in fish farming in Rajshahi district during the last couple of years.
In 2017, there were 7,294 hectares of ponds, including commercial farming on 3,462 hectares, in the district. The commercial farming stood at 12,309 hectares in 2018.
There were 43,196 commercial fish farming ponds on 13,150 hectares of land yielding 84,000 metric tonnes of fish in 2021. Around 85,334 tonnes of fish were produced in the following year.
District Fisheries Officer Jahangir Alam said fish production has doubled in the district during the last couple of years. In the last ten years, numbers of fish farming ponds have also escalated to a greater extent.
He said many of the jobless youths have become self-reliant as they are motivating them in many ways.
At present, Rajshahi has become a fish-surplus district and it has been earning huge money through selling fish in outside districts regularly.
Jahangir Alam also said many of the people are becoming self-reliant through fish farming commercially as Rajshahi is the suitable place for farming since immemorial time.
Rajshahi along with its surrounding districts is the pioneer in the field of supplying live fish to different parts in the country including the capital Dhaka.
There are scores of ponds on 13,050 hectares of land producing 84,000 tons of fish every year ensuring food security in terms of animal protein besides generating employment for around 288,000 people.
Sadiqul Islam, 54, a commercial fish farmer in Paba upazila, had started fish farming in a small pond in 2012. Now, he has ponds in over 180 bighas of land.
"Fish farming is a profitable business and the live fish trading is more profitable and lucrative." Ershad Ali, 47, another fish farmer of Shilmaria village under Puthiya Upazila, said many more people are entering into the fish farming business as it's very profitable.
"Many of the landowners are now being seen digging new ponds to lease out to fish farmers." Ershad told BSS that Tk 20,000 to Tk 30,000 is the present lease value for a pond on one bigha.
"Anyone can farm fish with around Tk 1.5 lakh to Tk 2 lakh easily if one cultivates fish using modern methods."
Amzad Hossain, a fish farmer of Keshorehat village in Mohanpur upazila, alone produced 30.25 tons of fish worth around Tk44.25 lakh making a net profit of Taka 15 lakh in 2019. Through ensuring quality, he collects eggs from government hatchery and rivers and breeds fish from the eggs by himself.
At the initial stage, he got training from the Upazila Fisheries Office in fish farming. He said several hundreds of new large ponds have been dug for commercial fish cultivation.
Abdul Wahed Mondal, divisional deputy director of the Department of Fisheries in Rajshahi, said they have attained significant success in the field of composite fish farming as it is a suitable place for the venture.
He said the region has also attained significant success in fish spawn and fish fingerling production which are also surplus than the existing demand.
He said the region has also attained the success of 71,443 tons of surplus fish production in comparison to the existing demands.
The farmers harvested 476,000 tons of fish from 403,000 hectares of different categories of water-bodies in the last fiscal against the demand of 404,000 tons for around 19,200,000 people in the division this year.
Wahed Mondal attributed the success to the adoption of multidimensional development and extension programs including the promotion of modern technologies.
Fish farming is making many people financially solvent along with boosting their social dignity and contributing to meeting the demand for the animal protein of the region besides different other parts of the country.
In order to boost fish production in the country's internal water-bodies, a stock of around 104,000 lakh tons of fish fingerlings has been arranged in different water-bodies at a cost of around Taka 15.62 crore benefiting 684,000 lakh fish farmers.
Besides, beel nursery on 1,370.06 hectares of water-bodies has been installed at a cost of around Tk 2.8 crore benefitting 58,984 fish-growers contributing a lot to boosting carp fish in internal water bodies.