THE PRACTICE OF PISCICULTURE IN APATANI PLATEAU


The Apatani practice aquaculture alongwith rice farming on their plots. Rice - fish culture in the valley is an unique practices in the state where two crops of rice [ Mipya and Emoh] and one crop of fish [ Ngihi] are raised together.

Fish Rearing

Fish Rearing

Integrating aquaculture with agriculture assures higher pruductivity and year round employment opportunities for farmers.The plots utilised for rice cum fish culture is mainly based on organic fertilisation with a varieties of animals excreta such as poultry dropping [ Paro pai], pig excreta [ Alyi ekha ],cow dung [ Sii ekha] and wastes of plants such as rice husks [ Piina], waste product of local beer [ Poi] and ashes from household burnt [ Mubu ] and remains of burnt straws [ Muyu] after the harvest is over. And compost fertiliser like decomposed straws [ Liisi], weeds [ Tamih] and stalks [ ankho].
The Apatanis utilise varieties of domestic waste products to their paddy field to enhance crops productivity which in turn enhance soil fertility as well as feed to fishes. They left a heaps of rice bran, poultry dropping , pig excreta and many other household wastes during the month of December and January where transplantation for the next season begins.

Tarin High Altitude Fish Farm

Tarin Fish Farm

The rice field (Aji) can be utilized for fish culture in the following two ways.Fishes can be reared from the month of April to September when the paddy crops grow in the field. At present it is being practised at Ziro .The fish culture can also be taken up from the month of November to February after harvesting of paddy crops is completed and transplantation for the next season begins.The culture of fishes in paddy fields, which remain flooded even after the paddy is harvested, may also serves as an occupation for the unemployed youths.

In recent year, however, the use of insecticides, pesticides, weedicides, and fungicides, many of which even in minute quantities, are highly toxic to aquatic life. There are other possibilities that too is the time when paddy fields retain water,but for off season for paddy crops; here,fishes alone can be grown. However,the present trend leaning heavily towards multiple cropping of culture practices.In other words,wheat can be substituted in place of rice during the month of October to February at Ziro.Moreover,fishes can be reared not only along with the common carp-species but also with other species such as Catla-catla (catla),Labeo rohita (Rohu),Cirrihnus mrigalo (Mrigal) when the paddy crops grow in the fields. In this, stocking density maintain at the rate of 5000 fingerling/ha. species ratio of surface feeder 25%,colunm 30% and bottom feeder 45%.

Paddy field is suitable for fish culture at Ziro bacause of having strong bund (Agher)in order to prevent leakage of water, to retain upto disired depth and also to prevent the escape of cultivated fishes during floods.The bunds built strong enough to make up the height due to geographical and topographic location of the paddy field. Bamboo mating done at the base of the bunds for its support. On the bunds, millets [ sarse] cultivation is a common practice in Apatani pleteau. Hence, leaving no portion of paddy plots is left unutilised. But till now, horticulture cum fish farming has not been taken up. In this practices, the bunds can be utilised for several varieties of vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes,radish, pumpkin, cucumber, beans, brinjals chillies, gingers etc.

Apatanis used paddy fields channel [ Siikho/Parkho/hehte] for water management , constructed at the middle of the paddy fields that divides the paddy field perpendicular and horizontally bisect at a point. The parkho provides the rearing space for fishes and provide shelter during the sunny day. It is important to note that Apatanis paddy field has two outlets [ hubur] and one inlet [ hubur] Former oulet is used for over flow of water and latter one which remains at the bottom meant for draining of the water for harvesting paddy crops and fishes.


Lack of poor management, pond culture at Ziro is somewhat lacking. This could be improved by providing organic fertilisers as done in paddy fields. In other ways, integrated with animal husbandry, poultry would pave better result. In this practices, cow dung and poultry litters can be used as organic manure for fish ponds.

Presently riverine [ kley] aquatic wealth is still virgin at Ziro. The species of fish found in the riverine such as Schizothorax [ Ngiyi Ngilyang], Eels [ Tabu Ngiyi], Nemaucheilus [ Ribu], Dorikona or weed fish [ Ngi papi], murrels at the lower reaches of Tabyu kley and others and monsoon migratory fishes [ Ngiira] which is found during the heavy flood during the summer season. Other species such as Prawn [ Nyanpo tassing] unwanted species like Nato neta [ yato pano] , water beetle [ Yassi anii/chunyi]and other aquatic bugs which occur plenty during the summer.

In order to catch fish in river, in olden days, Apatanis used local made gear Tajer,Takhung and barju to get total catch sometimes by diverting the river water into other ditches. Frequently, they used herbal poisonous plant to kill fish { Tamoh]. At present , they used chemical substanes like bleaching power, other explosive materials, and electrolites which is most discouraging in the fieldof pisciculture practices as a result of unwanted meant of practices leads to the death of valuable food organisms of the aquatic environment. Further, it causes imbalancing of ecological niche and thereby damaging the river bank. It is encourageable that some of NGOs have already formed unaminously local conservation Acts to stop such unwanted practices of fishing e.g. for increasing fish production in a sustainable manner, conservation of aquatic life, biodiversity is a necessary prerequisite.

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..PADDY CUM FISH CULTURE