500 MT of fish by 2018…

Considering the serious need to curtail import of fish, and the corresponding outflow of the INR, the preponderant objective of the aquaculture program during the 11 Five Year Plan has been raised from 100 MT to 500 MT of fish. This means that by 2018, Bhutanese farmers must be enabled to produce a total of 500 MT of fish per annum. While seemingly daunting for a landlocked country with a mountainous terrain, this is not an entirely impossible task. What is called for is a combination of new ideas and new methods to execute old ideas. Anyway, to achieve the new objective of producing 500 MT of fish by 2018, the following important activities will be resorted to in the 11 FYP:

  1. Encourage adoption and scaling up of fish farming ventures;
  2. Technological interventions to enhance productivity;
  3. Culture Based Capture Fisheries (CBCF) in community water bodies/ common access water bodies;
  4. Farmers’ institution building;
  5. Breed enhancement and diversification;
  6. Public-Private-Partnerships to produce live inputs, especially stunted fingerlings; and
  7. Skills dissemination and capacity building;

Invitation for Bids…

National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA), Gelephu invites bids from eligible firms for the Supply of Fishing Gears, Aquaria, & General Tools & Instruments for the financial Year 2013-2014. The bid documents can be obtained from Administrative Section of the NCA on payment of Nu. 500/- per document (non refundable) with effect from 2nd August, 2013. The bids must be received at the NCA latest by 12 Noon of 2nd September, 2013, and shall be opened on the same day at 2PM.

For more information, please call +975-06-251128/ 251200.

Submitted by Administrative Officer, NCA.

Bhutanese aquaculture – A status quo and an outlook…

The current output of farmed fish in Bhutan is a mere 64 MT. This figure pales into insignificance when compared with the annual import of some 6000 MT (wet weight equivalent of fish) from neighbouring countries. The outflow of foreign monies, especially the Indian Rupee (INR), is estimated to be a minimum of Rs. 300 millions. A very speculative analysis of the available data approximates the current per capita consumption of fish in the kingdom at 8.27 kg and conjectures that the domestic output of farmed fish in 2020 will be some 100 MT. It is also speculated that some 7800 MT of fish will be imported to feed the country’s 809396 strong population in 2020. The per capita consumption then would be about 10 kg. It is apparent then that the aquaculture sector in the country has the tremendous responsibility of increasing the domestic output of fish, through farming or capture, toward contributing to national food security, generating employment and curtailing the outflow of foreign monies.

While an absolute substitution of import of fish in the next one decade appears implausible, the likelihood of enhancing the domestic output is high. In the 11th Five Year Plan (11 FYP), several key strategies will be executed to raise the domestic output to 150 MT. This would seem like a rather ambitious plan, given that the analysis of available data predicts a domestic output of a dismal 100 MT in 2020. However, considering that the foregoing prediction is not without flaws born of several limitations, including weak reporting at vital points in the value chain, there are rooms for constructive interventions, such as building of farmers’ institutions, to realize an output of 150 MT by the end of the 11 FYP.  National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA) intends to deliver these interventions in conjunction with creating an enabling environment for a vertical expansion of the fish farming sector. Horizontal expansion will follow as a result.

It is gratifying to note that aquaculture in the kingdom, in its present state, aligns perfectly with global endeavors and priorities born of growing concern for human health and the natural environment. For example, a bulk of the fish presently produced in the country qualifies to be called “organic” and “eco-friendly” because there is hardly any farmer in the country that makes use of inorganic pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics and fish meal or fish oil to grow fish; the energy consumption on Bhutanese fish farms is negligible when compared with that elsewhere in the world; and the tapping of the precious ground water to grow fish is non-existent. Fish farming in Bhutan has at its core species that feed low in the food chain and therefore helps sequester carbon. Given all these, there is ample scope for Bhutan to earn significant income through the “premium” that “organic” and “eco-friendly” fish would command. How and when we actually work to formally label our fish thus is a different task altogether though, requiring the coming together of several stakeholders.

The adverse impacts of climate change on aquaculture are manifesting all over the world and the affected nations have started to implement measures to adapt. In Bhutan too, climate change induced adverse effects on aquaculture have started to become visible. A group fish farming venture in Samtse has lost all its recently stocked fingerlings numbering some 6000 when a flash flood hit their pond very recently. Similarly some farmers in Chhuzagang geog of Sarpang have started to complain about not having enough water in their ponds. They say that in the late 80s they had ample water seeping out of the earth to fill up their ponds. So, the question that begs an answer is: Where did this water go? Now if incidences such as these are attributed to climate change, the message to Bhutan is clear: Aquaculture in Bhutan must prepare to render itself Climate-smart.

Invitation for Bids (IFB)…

 National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA), Gelephu invites bids from eligible firms for the Supply of Stationeries Items, Electrical & Hardware Items, Vehicle spare parts, Extension Kits & Fish Feed  for the Financial Year 2013-2014. The bid documents can be obtained from Administrative Section of the NCA on payment of Nu. 300/- for fish feed IFB documents & Nu. 150/- each for the documents of IFB for other goods with effect from 26th July, 2013. The bids must be received at the NCA latest by 12 Noon of 26th August, 2013, and shall be opened on the same day at 2PM.

Submitted by Administrative Officer, NCA.

Fingerling supply in 2013 – An update…

As of 22nd June 2013, National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA) has supplied a total of 4,94,400 fingerlings to the six dzongkhags of Chukha, Samtse, Sarpang, Tsirang, Zhemgang and Dagana,  and Regional Centre for Aquaculture (RCA) in Phuentshothang under Samdrupjongkhar. The RCA in turn has supplied the fingerlings it lifted from the NCA to its client Dzongkhags of Samdrupjongkhar and Pemagatshel. Among the species, Grass carp has dominated the supply with 2, 78,201 fingerlings, followed by common carp with 2, 08,107 fingerlings. As to the Silver carp and Indian Major Carps, a total of only 8,092 fingerlings have been lifted by the Dzongkhags so far. The distribution of silver carp and Indian Major Carp fingerling will gain momentum after the completion of second nursing which will happen in the next two weeks. The following table depicts the fingerlings supplied so far during 2013.

Fingerling Distribution Status 2013

Dzongkhag/Agency Common Carp Grass Carp Silver Carp Rohu Mrigal Catla Total
Chukha 1,700 4,300 1,600 0 0 0 7,600
Samtse 9,683 31,600 0 100 100 100 41,583
Sarpang 54,824 31,451 642 200 200 100 87,417
Tsirang 15,750 36,200 0 0 0 0 51,950
Zhemgang 5,000 10,000 0 0 0 0 15,000
Dagana 7,150 9,450 3,250 0 0 0 19,850
RCA 1,14,000 1,55,200 1,800 0 0 0 2,71,000
Total 2,08,107 2,78,201 7,292 300 300 200 4,94,400


The farmers in Wangduephodrang are yet to lift their fingerlings. In 2012, a total of 7, 46,701 fingerlings were distributed to fish farmers in the kingdom. It is estimated that in 2013, this figure will touch the 0.9 million mark.

In order to boost the domestic output of fish toward import reduction in 11th Five Year Plan, the NCA will support commercial production through the supply of stunted fingerlings. The use of Stunted fingerlings will enable the commercial fish producers to have access to fingerlings all year round and therefore be able to stagger their harvest through the year. This would enable the producers to harvest more than one crop of fish a year. Stunted fingerlings will also enable farmers in temperate areas and areas with scanty water supply to produce table-sized fish in a short duration of time.

Submitted by Gopal Prasad Khanal, Head of Input Production and Extension Unit, NCA.