BHUBANESWAR: The Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), a premier research establishment of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed a technology for natural breeding of murrel in controlled conditions to augment its production.
As per the new technology murrel breeding and seed production can be done in concrete tanks. While small sized water bodies are ideal for the scientific murrel culture, ponds having steep dykes are
preferred to prevent the escape of fish.
Earlier the demand for seedlings was met from the wild collections and the commercial culture of murrel was not common due to inadequate availability of seedlings. Nodal scientist Dr Rajesh Kumar said to meet the challenges, ICAR-CIFA developed the breeding technology of striped murrel in hatchery condition which is all set to make a difference in the fish farming sector.
"We are creating awareness to promote the technology and the potential of murrel culture as a result of which now there is a consistent demand from Andhra Pradesh and other southern States to take up the technology. Many farmers also are seeking our advice to set up the hatchery and start breeding," Kumar said.
Prior to the research, the CIFA made a baseline survey in Odisha and Tamil Nadu to know the resources and interest of fish farmers for the research taken up under the National Agricultural Innovation
Project (NAIP). The experiment reveals that the natural breeding and seed production can be done in concrete tanks for high recovery, easy routine management and harvesting.
The fish has a lot of regional preferences. While it is State fish in Telangana, people prefer murrel over any other fishes in States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar and north eastern region. Since the fish has only a central spine, people find it easy to consume. It has medicinal values for
its high iron content and amino acid.
CIFA Director Jitendra Kumar Sundaray said the murrels are highly preferred food fish because of nice flavour, meaty flesh with few intra-muscular bones and medicinal value. The good growth rate, high
consumer preferences, lucrative market value and their ability to withstand adverse water conditions make them suitable candidate species for freshwater aquaculture, he said.
Earlier, murrel farming was not practiced in the State owing to non-availability of standard technology for seed production and culture besides the social taboo associated with the fish variety. There was also no scientific murrel culture practice followed in the State.
"Now a few farmers in Balugaon, Hyderabad and Puducherry have taken up the farming backed with the new breeding technology, which is slowly picking up in other States too. Though it will take time
for its commercialisation, we have established the protocol in such a way that we can breed the fish for a
prolonged period," Kumar added.