The concept of fish farming has brought about a ‘Blue Revolution’ in Manipur. And Soibam Surchandra, the owner of S. Tomba and Sons Penba Farm is at the forefront of it.
How he started the fish farm?
Soibam Surchandra has a post graduate diploma in Fisheries Science (PGDCS) from CIFE, Mumbai. He came back to Manipur to take over the family’s 11-hectare fish farming business. The farm was established in 1981 at Hiyangthang Mamang Leikai. He began rearing Pengba somewhere between 1984 to 85.
In 2002, for the first time after years of patience, he sold about 100 kgs of Pengba at a fish fair. Since then Surchandra’s production chart has only seen upward curves. Between 2007 and 2008 he produced 5000 kgs of Pengba; between 2009 to 2010 the production rose to 10000 kgs.
Not only that, he was awarded a gold medal by the Government of India for best fish farming at national level. Apart from supplying fish across the state, Surchandra also exports ‘Pengba’ and ‘Ngatonto’ to the neighbouring states of Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
‘Right now, we have 34 fish ponds, which are segregated in different sections for nursery, breeding and so on. Accordingly, we breed and rear fish employing best methods available. We are specialised in rearing of indigenous species like Pengba and Ngatonto, which we also export to neighbouring markets.’, he told.
Employment opportunities for the locals
Having 34 fish ponds is no mean feat and needs a lot of maintenance. And this is how the farmer has been able to generate employment opportunities for the locals.
‘I am working here for the last six years. And I am happy that it gives me an opportunity to earn and support my family.’, Chalamba, a staffer said.
‘Since I don’t have any other job, I am working here for the last four years. The work is difficult in the winters, but we have no problem during the summer’, Keshorejit, another staffer told.
As of now, Surchandra’s farm produces 40-45 metric tonnes of fish, earning an annual turnover of Rs. 40-45 lakhs. According to him, diseases are the only biggest threat to the fish farming business. Not only that, the award winning farmer has successfully produced 35,000 kilograms of indigenous fish at his Pengba farm. He also rears other varieties of fish in his farm, but he wants to rear species indigenous to the state, which are on the verge of extinction.
Surchandra’s effort has not only helped in the conservation of rare species of fish, but has also become a source of income for farmers and boosted trade in the state.