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Fish Farming

Fish Farming In Pakistan

Aquaculture is a recent development in Pakistan. Fish farmers stock ponds with Indian carp species such as Catla, Rohu and Common carp and two Chinese carp species, Grass carp and Silver carp. Two species of trout, namely brown trout and rainbow trout are cultured in Khyber Pakhton Khuwah (KPK) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) located in northern Pakistan.

In major parts of the country, fish farming is mainly practiced at an extensive level characterized by low per unit yield due to poor management, lack of access to quality seeds and unavailability of proper fish feed. Carp farming was first introduced as another “agriculture” activity to make use of land not suitable for agriculture and to provide people with an income. Ponds were filled with water and incoming seeds as well as additional available artificially bred seeds. Little input was and is still used except for manure. Fish are harvested after one to two years depending on the size or the owner’s need for cash. The sector gained pace in the mid-eighties with two Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects which assisted in strengthening the institutional structure, with the development of hatcheries and juvenile production, model farms, transfer of technology and human resource development. The sector also received a substantial amount of government investment over the past decades for the development of aquaculture and training facilities. In spite of these efforts and of pro-active large farm owners’ initiatives, fish farming has not reached an industrial outlook. The main reasons are lack of access to quality seeds as a result of genetic degradation largely influenced by practices at hatchery level, lack of fish species options, unavailability of proper fish feed and lack of backup health services. Farm owners’ perceptions and lack of motivation to further invest is also an important factor. In some cases, fish farming is considered as a side activity that doesn’t require much investment; while in other cases, lack of awareness and high financial cost doesn’t enable farmers to foresee fish farming as a profitable opportunity. Demonstration and persuasion are required to operate a change in mentalities and practices as it will in turn condition the development of an allied industry.

An example is the fish feed mills, which so far have not represented a profitable market for investors due to little use of input. With both marine and fresh water capture fisheries almost exceeding maximum sustainable yields, the fishery national policy of Pakistan focuses on issues relating to sustainability, better exploitation strategies, reduction in post-harvest losses, value addition and conflict resolution. Fish farming is seen as a way to enhance fish supply for food security. However, implementing a viable aquaculture industry to feed its population and to stimulate economic activity remains a challenge.

Production Processes Flow

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.

Sitter Selection

Special consideration should be given to the location of proposed facility. It should be located in an area that is neither subject to flooding nor near to rivers. The selected location should have enough elevation so that it can easily be dried in off season. In addition, many other factors must be considered while selecting site. These factors may include availability of china clay in soil, round the year adequate water supply, road access even during the rainy season and location away from agricultural activities to avoid pesticides application and noise pollution.

Structural Design off the Land

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

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.

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