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‘Pengba’ all set to emerge as ‘Hilsha’ of Manipur

Preface: 

Pengba, a very popular medium carp fish species of Manipur (locally called as Belangiri puti also, belonging to Family-Cyprinidae and declared as the state fish of manipur), having a special taste comparable to Hilsha and considered as the HILSHA of Manipur, was almost unknown to Bengalese. Thanks to ICAR-CIFA, it has successfully commercialised its captive breeding technology of this fish species under the leadership of Dr Pratap Chandra Dash, Principal Scientist. 

The author, while attending a meeting at ICAR-CIFA, Bhubaneswar on 23 May 2018, as one of the member of the NFDB Consultation Committee on National Fish Brood Bank, first time came to know about this fish and availability of fry of the fish species for field trial in the composite fish culture. 

Biology: 

This fish grows very well in the composite culture and feeds on different food items, available in the pond system including algae and detritus vegetation and supplementary fish feed (preferably floating fish feed), alike rohu / grass carp and grows almost a Kilogram  in a year time. In juvenile stage (6-10 cm) it eats on zooplankton mainly and in grown up stage (10-26 cm) it feeds on aquatic plants, basically a column feeder. Morphologically, it looks similar to Hilsha / Java puti and it is said, by taste it is special alike hilsha, because of its oily nature and very soft muscle. In Manipur, it is most costly fish and in their festive time in October, it is sold at a premium price of more than Rs.800/kg (live) for celebrating Nigoi Chakouba (like Bengalese Jamai Sashti).   

Introduction in West Bengal 

Coming back from Bhubaneswar, seeing the potentiality of the fish species, passed on the  information to many of my colleagues (in charge of the districts) in the department for intimating / encouraging fish farmers and help them to get some belangiri fish fry from CIFA for stocking in their composite fish farming ponds. But sad to say, there was no response.  

At this moment, I tried to convince some fish farmers across the district and this clicked. Then under the generous assistance and support of Dr P C Dash of ICAR-CIFA, the main man behind extension and propagation of this fish species, as of now fish farmers of the state have brought fish fry of the said fish species as follows and stocked in their composite fish culture ponds: 

Sl  

No 

Area and District 

Quantity 

Active role played by and contact 

Remarks 

Haldia, Purba Medinipur 

60000 

Sri Sarat Ch Bhowmik, M-9332310582 

Fry of the fish species subsequently distributed to many small farmers for stocking in the composite culture fish pond. 

Tamluk, Purba Medinipur 

20000 

Dr U K Laha, OIC, WBCADC-Tamluk-I Proj 

M-9434667766 

Matigara, (Siliguri), Darjeeling 

60000 

Sri Sammy Kempe, a self made Aqua Farming and Tilapia Hatchry Operator, M-8250485109. 

Rajendrapur, (Naihati), N-24-Pgs 

20000 

Somnath / Sujay Biswas, Aqua Farming Entrepre, M-9831665494.  

Bhangar, S-24-Pgs 

20000 

Sri Lelin Mondal, a self made Aqua Farming entrepreneur and key Farmer in the extension and marketing of Sar Punti, since 2006, M-9932650328.  

Memari, Purba Burdwan 

15000 

Sri Bipul Dey, as sef made progressive fish farmer. M-7908871038. 

Barrackpore, N-24-Pgs 

60 nos 

Dr S N Biswas, Retired Joint Director of Fisheries, GoWB 

Experimenting growth performance in Cistern-5x6x3.5 ft 

 

Total 

1,95,060 nos 

 

 

Progress so far: 

In the mean time, I have visited ponds at Haldia, Tamluk and Siliguri, everywhere I have observed, the fries are very healthy and moving in shoal, feeding happily floating feed and algae, grown in the fish ponds and growth is also very significant. Views of the farmers are “very good fish species, omnivorous and growth is very satisfactory”. 

Technical Information: 

So far not much technical information on its culture is available, however, from the experience of the CIFA and farmers of Manipur, this fish species, can be stocked along with other fish species in composite fish culture at a stocking density of 200-300 nos per bigha-10-20 % as extra, (if harvesting size is 600-800 gms, if it is 150-200 gms, stocking density may be increased to 1000-1200 nos/bigha), which grows to 600 gms to 800 gms on good managed and well fed ponds in a year time (it likes feeding woolfia very well, alike java punti). As the fish eats aquatic vegetation including algae, ponds / water bodies, having vegetation -  algae is preferred for stocking with this fish species. It feeds on artificial feed readily and grows well in well manured (organic) composite culture pond. There is no need for special care and / or husbandry, excepting good management practices, recommended for Composite Fish culture.  

However, it becomes table size (ideal for Bengalese cuisine alike sar / java punti at the size of 

150 - 200 gms, which may be attained by the end of 3-4 months). It is much harder than our indigenous Sar punti / Java puti but having special taste alike Hilsha / Sar Puti. It becomes matured for breeding at the age of 2 yrs, when it can be hapa bred (3 x 2.5 x 1.5 mt, 1 female to 2 male) through Induced Breeding by administering synthetic hormone (0.6 ml / kg body for female and 0.3 ml / kg body weight in case of male, spawning starts after 5-6 hours and hatching starts after 18 hrs of fertilisation, however hatchlings can be visible only after about 26 hrs and spawn can be transferred on the 4th day for Nursery Management.  

Caution:  

Only caution for this fish species is - it cannot bear cold and thus should be harvested before November, onset of winter. In hard winter, it becomes susceptible to fish disease and develops lesson and subject to mortality in some cases. And thus best culture period is between May-June to Oct-Nov (same year seed) and Mar to Nov (for yearling). For yearling production and /or brooder fish production (2 yrs), necessary care should be taken, so that extreme cold during winter (sometimes) should not pose any threat to the fish species. 

Prospect: 

So, by stocking this fish species, a fish farmer may get additional crop beside premium price for this fish species, it is expected, once this fish species comes in the retail market and consumers gets an opportunity to have its taste, it will surely take place of sar punti and hilsa as a better substitute. And one more potentiality is, since this fish species is sold at premium price in Manipur during their festival (Ningol chakouba in October, alike our Jamai Sashti) even at a price of above Rs.600/ to Rs.800/ kg, it may be exported to the State including Assam and Tripura, where this fish species will also be liked.  

It can be recommended as one of the most suitable new fish species in composite fish culture, as it feeds on food of low tropic level and can be included in place of grass carp very well and one of the best fish species for stocking in the Beels and Baors, where it will grow naturally and may even breed automatically, in such beels, where water condition remains good and having aquatic vegetation, which is a must for such fish species for its natural breeding and propagation. It is needless to say that this fish spices is still endemic to the world famous Loktak Lake of Manipur, famous for high vegetation and with the endeavour above, it will take place in Beels-Baors and farmers pond in West Bengal and the people of the State will get another Hilsha like fish for a change of delicacy.   

It is expected, before the next Bengal Fish Festival (Dec, 2019), it will be ready for marketing at the farmers pond  and in the coming Fish Festival, Pengba surely will be a great attraction as a special Hilsha alike cuisine there and fish fry in required quantity will surely come in the Bengal Fish Seed Market in the next season.  


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