Paddy-cum-fish culture in Ziro valley

[ Taro Chatung ]
Paddy-cum-fish culture has become very popular in Ziro valley, bringing great benefits to the farmers.
The farmers put the fingerlings into their fields and reap the benefits in a comparatively short time, as the fingerlings grow upto 200 to 300 grams in size within three months. The common carp is the fish species which is most suited to paddy-cum-fish culture.
But lately it has been found that some of the fingerlings are not growing to the desirable size, and the farmers have failed to understand the reason behind it.
There are two types of the common carp – the Carassious carssious and the Cyprinus carpio.
The Carassious carssious species was brought from Europe by the then British India Government in 1874, who introduced it in Madras (now Chennai). Its growth is slow, it is small in size, and has a barbel (a whisker-like sensory organ near the mouth). It is generally used as an ornamental fish. The Cyprinus carpio species was brought from Sri Lanka in 1939 by the then British India Government and introduced in Ootacamund in Chennai for pisciculture. It has a barbel near the mouth and takes a bigger shape quickly.
Both the species look quite similar during the fingerling stage. However, they can be identified by the barbel when they grow up.
It was a successful fish farmer of Ziro, Nani Hania, who harvested both the fish species in his paddy field during the first week of October 2017 and reaped abundant benefit.
When asked, Hania informed that one category of fish – which he called Kotia Ngii (small size fish) – is always small in size, and that the other one is the common carp, which grows fast and is bigger in size.
Now it is for the farmers to choose only the fingerlings of the Cyprinus carpio and not the Carassious carssious species for their paddy fields. Above all, there is an urgent need to create awareness among the fish farmers of the valley for production of Cyprinus carpio fingerlings through paddy-cum-fish cultivation. (The writer is a senior journalist)