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An Overview of the Bhutanese Aquaculture Sector…

Aquaculture contributed 12.97 percent of total food-fish for human consumption in 2017 and is expected to grow further to meet the future fish demand of the country. National output of food-fish has grown tremendously over the past 12 years, from 1.34 MT in 2007 to around 223.62 mt in 2018. The 2018 production is valued roughly at Nu. 44.72 million. Among the fish producing Dzongkhags, Samdrupjongkhar dominates with a production share of 30.97 percent by volume and 6.19 million by value. The rapid growth in the Dzongkhag is thought to have been driven by a variety of factors, including pre-existing aquaculture practices, population and economic growth and favorable climatic conditions.

Fish Producers

At the moment, there are 465 fish farmers across thirteen (13) Dzongkhags in the country. Of these, Haa is the only Dzongkhag where rainbow trout farming has commenced at an experimental level. Sarpang Dzongkhag, with 105 fish farmers, has the highest number of fish farmers, followed by Tsirang with 100. At the other end of the spectrum, Tashigang Dzongkhag, with a lone fish farmer, has the least number of fish farmers. Between 2007 and 2019, the number of fish farmers in the country appears to have declined, from 637 in 2007 to 465 in 2019 (Figure 1). An investigation as to why this has happened is yet to be undertaken.

Figure 1: No. of Fish Farmers during last 12 years of aquaculture

Aquaculture Systems and Environment

Fish Production Infrastructure

Currently, Bhutan’s fish production infrastructure comprises 667 earthen fish ponds of size ranging from 10 m2 to 6070 m2. Over the years, the number of active fish ponds in the country has changed from 683 in 2007 to 466 in 2019 (Figure 2).

                                              Figure 2: Consolidated Total Numbers of Fish Ponds for Carp Production

Fish Pond Area (m2)

At the moment, consolidated fish pond area of Bhutan stands at 24.32 hectare. The area includes backyard undertaking category starting from 415 m2 in Trashigang to 78639 m2 in Sarpang of which some ponds are semi-commercial type (Figure 3).

                                                                   Figure 3: Dzongkhag-wise Fish Ponds Area

Carp Producing Geogs/Dzongkhags

Today, there are sixty two Geogs undertaking backyard to semi-commercial scale carp production and two Geogs for trout production. In total 64 Geogs are actively engaged in diverse types of aquaculture systems in 24.32 hectares of total fish pond area.  These Geogs are spread over 13 Dzongkhags (Figure 4).

                          Figure 4: Carp Producing Dzongkhags including Haa (Trout Farming Dzongkhag).

Domestic Annual Aquaculture Production and Challenges

The Bhutanese aquaculture sector faces a variety of challenges such as personal sentiment against fish culture as being a sinful enterprise, limited suitable landholding, climate change adverse impacts, under-developed aquaculture support service delivery competence and stringent wetland policy that deter fish pond construction. These constraints notwithstanding, Bhutan’s output of food fish has seen a remarkable growth in the last few years. Wherever feasible, NR&DCA has support carp production with meet fish food in the country. The production trend indicates that aquaculture is going to grow in the future. In 2018, Bhutan’s domestic fish production was 223 mt with 165.89% growth rate over 10 years from 1.34 mt in 2007 (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Ten Years (2007-2017) Domestic Fish Production in Bhutan.

Annual Aquaculture Growth rates (%)

The highest annual growth rate of food fish of 9.61% was documented in 2007. Despite the fact of increased domestic production trend, the annual growth rate slowly has declined from 2013 to 2017 which now stands at 1.00% (annual growth rate). During the last ten years, lowest annual growth rate of 0.75% was recorded in 2009 (Figure 6).  The overall growth rate over ten (10) years from 2007 to 2017 is 165.89%.

                                                    Figure 6: Ten Years Annual Aquaculture Growth Rate (%)

Annual Import of Fish Productions for Consumption

To meet the demand for seafood, Bhutan continues to import fish and fish products from India and other countries (Figure 7). However, the import trend has been declining with the gradual increase in domestic production but import is most significant at the moment in the country.

                     Figure 7: Fish Import from Indian and other countries (2007-2017)

There exist mammoth gap between domestic fish production and fish import in the country from 2007 to 2014. The gap between domestic production and importation is 753.71 MT in 2007 and 1270.48 MT in 2017. After 2014, the gap between domestic production and fish import gradually started to decline until today (Figure 8). In contrast to this situation, domestic production started to peak its momentum from 2014, thereby reducing gap between import and domestic production. However, Bhutan has major task to accomplish in terms of domestic fish production to replace annual mean fish import of 2049.32 mt for last ten years (2007-2017). The NR&DCA believes that Bhutanese farmers would reap great economic benefits if they increased their output of food fish. With required infrastructures, competency based human resources, appropriate budgetary provisions and with all other related resources being provided ideally, NR&DCA inspires  to overcome fish food self sufficiency in future.

                                                   Figure 8: Domestic Fish Production and Fish Import Gap

Pema Thinley,

Livestock Production Officer,

National Research & Development Centre for Aquaculture (NR&DCA),


Exposure Tour Program for Aquaculture Farm Attendants…

Team consisting of  Seven Aquaculture farm Attendants led by Mr. Dorji Khandu of Regional Centre for Aquaculture (RCA) Phuntshothang, Samdrupjonglkar visited the National Research & Development Centre for Aquaculture (NR&DCA) Gelephu  on 26 September, 2019. The main objective is to familiarize with new aquaculture technologies and to further enrich with new knowledge and skills associated with livestock farming in the Country.


By Management NR&DCA



NR&DCA conducts first kind Hands on Training to LUC youth on pond fish farming…

Two Land User Certificate (LUC) groups from Dorangthang LUC located under Samdrupcholing Drungkhag and Jangsa  LUC located under Jomotshangkha Drungkhag of Samdrupjongkhar Dzongkhag successfully completed weeklong hands-on training organized by National Research & Development Centre for Aquaculture (NR&DCA), Gelephu from 2-6th September, 2019. This LUC training was unprecedented in the history of NR&DCA, as we have created first-time record by training 19 participants (8 LUC members and 11 fish farmers). The participants were guided by Mr. Changchung, Livestock Production Supervisor of Dzongkhag Livestock Sector, Samdrupjongkhar as aquaculture focal point. The funding of the training has been borne by the concerned Dzongkhag, as NR&DCA has no approved training funds for the current fiscal year. Welcoming the participants, Mr. Drukpola, Program Director of NR&DCA, Gelephu voiced out the concerns of His Majesty the King for the youth of the country now and future. The Program Director elaborated His Majesty’s visions to curb down the youth unemployment, reduce youth migration from rural to urban areas thereby reducing Gung tong and to enhance economic activities through use of State Reserve Forests land (SRF) through productive farming.

Realizing the significant importance of LUC project, NR&DCA cordially accepted the proposal to provide hands-on training without any second thought. Most importantly, NR&DCA could realize and fulfill the expectations of LUC members and fish farmers through providing both theoretical and practical aspects of aquaculture imparted by seasoned ichthyologists. Though, time was limited but LUC members keenly learned about principles of freshwater aquaculture, fish pond construction, fish pond management (pre-stocking, stocking and post-stocking), transportation of live fish after packaging, feeding through local feed formulation and fish propagation. Nonetheless, National Piggery Research and Development Centre (NPiRDC) provided LUC members basics of pig farming and its management.

The simple closing ceremony was graced by the presence of Mr. Towchu Rabgay, Chief, Research & Extension Division (RED), DoL to mark the importance of first-time LUC training for aquaculture. The Chief Guest highlighted the significance of training, reiterated the content of the training, and reminded to implement once the trainees are back to their farm premises. Moreover, Chief Guest also reminded the participants about the need of the day to doubling income of rural farmers and requested all to join hands  together for blue revolution  towards doubling the income of farmer, import reduction and attaining self-sufficiency in aquaculture products. Finally, the Chief Guest awarded the participants certificates of participation.

NR&DCA Management.

Hands on Training on Pond Fish Farming for LUC Group…

Total of 19 fish farmers (Male – 17 & Female – 2) under Land User Certificate (LUC) support Program from Pemathang, Phuntshothang and Langchenphu  gewog under Samdrup jongkhar Dzongkhag  has started  a week long  hands on training on pond fish farming  from 2nd September and shall be end on  6th September 2019.

The main objective is to impart  basic soft and hard skills in managing fish farm. During the entire training program,  youth shall be taught on (1) fish pond management (Pre-post stocking) (2) fish propagation (3) local fish feed formulation (4) Fish pond management (5) Transportation of live fish and  (5) Fish pond construction.

The  training is being funded by the Dzongkhag Livestock Sector Samdrup jongkhar and being implemented by National Research & Development centre for Aquaculture Gelephu,

NR&DCA Management


The National Research & Development Centre for Aquaculture (NR&DCA), Gelephu under the Department of Livestock (DoL)  Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) invites sealed bid from eligible and qualified bidders for the following:

Sl No Name of Supply Bid Security (Nu.) Tendering process Remarks
1 Fish Feed Bids 66,000 Open Available at website: or
2 Fishing gears Bids 10,000 Open Available at website: or

3 Supply of office Stationery and Office Equipment’s 10,000 Open Collect from NR&DCA office, Gelephu
4 Supply of Plumbing, Electrical

and Hardware items.

10,000 Open Collect from NR&DCA office, Gelephu
5 Supply of Extension Kits 10,000 Open Collect from NR&DCA office, Gelephu
6 Supply/Offering  of Catering Services 10,000 Open Collect from NR&DCA office, Gelephu
  1. The bid must be received at National Research & Development Centre for Aquaculture (NR&DCA) Gelephu address to Offtg. Program Director, on or before 12.00 Noon of 27th July, 2019 and shall be opened on the same day at 2.30 pm at the conference hall of NR&DCA in presence of interested bidders those who wish to attend.
  2. A complete set of Bidding Documents can also be downloaded from MoAF website: or NR&DCA as per the date mentioned above against the supply of serial No. 1 and 2.
  3. Bidding documents for serial No. 3,4,5 & 6 may be collected from procurement/administration section at minimal charges of Nu.300/- per Bid Document during office hours.
  4. Tender should accompanied with the Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) as mentioned against supply in the form of cash warrant/demand draft/Bank guarantee (Unconditional) drawn in favour of Program Director, NR&DCA, Gelephu.
  5. For further information, call 06-251200 during office hours.

      NR&DCA Management.