Kashmir: Young Kashmiri Women Find Success in Trout Fish Farming

IOK - Indian Occupied Kashmir Jammu & Kashmir

Trout farming is turning out to be a sound business venture in Kashmir Valley where 25% of these fish farms are owned by women, many of whom are in their 20s.

Srinagar, J&K A couple of years ago, while reading a newspaper, Beauty Jan came across an article on trout fish farming in Kashmir. The 23-year-old resident of Akad village in Anantnag was intrigued as she had heard how her district in south Kashmir had come to be known as the trout fish district of India.

She decided to explore it further and two years ago, in 2021, she set up her own trout fish farm on three kanals of land belonging to her parents (1 hectare is approximately 20 kanals).

The young Kashmiri woman now earns Rs 10 lakh per annum from her fish farm and is an inspiration to the youth in the Valley many of whom are adopting trout farming as a source of livelihood. And a number of them are young Kashmiri women.

This was confirmed by Mohammad Farooq Dar, director, Fisheries Department, J&K, who said that an increasing number of young people in Kashmir are availing government schemes and subsidies, and embracing fish farming.

“Over 25 percent of fish farm owners are women, and they receive comprehensive support from the government,” the director told Gaon Connection. Talking about her journey as a fish farmer, Beauty Jan said: “When I initially established my farm, I acquired 6,000 fish seeds. Currently, I have 18,000 fish seeds.

During the first year, we didn’t generate any income, as it takes 12 months for a trout to reach a weight of 300 grams. However, in 2022, we earned approximately Rs 10 lakh, while the annual costs for feed and other necessities amounted to Rs 3-4 lakhs.”

According to her, she received constant support from the government and training from the fisheries department. “The fish farm cost me Rs 5.5 lakh, with 40 per cent of the expenses covered by a government subsidy and rest by my family,” said Beauty Jan.

Fish farming has become a symbol of resilience and success in Anantnag district where there are over 300 fisheries operating.

Trout is a highly profitable fish that can grow up to three kilograms in weight and fetches a good price. A number of farmers in Kashmir are into trout farming due to the conducive environment in the Valley.

Trout need running water and temperatures ranging between 0 and 20 degree Celsius to thrive. Official statistics reveal a remarkable increase in trout fish production in J&K, surging from 650 tonnes in 2019 to an impressive 2,000 tonnes in 2023, marking a remarkable 300 per cent upswing in the last three years.

According to Beauty Jan, each kilogram of trout fish sells for Rs 400-500. “We sell fish to a variety of dealers who, in turn, distribute these fish to restaurants and markets. Additionally, we have direct customers who purchase fish from us,” she said.

Seeing the success of her farm, she said that many people, both men and women, approach her for advice on how to begin their own ventures. “Educated young people, particularly women, should not limit their aspirations to government jobs alone, instead, they should consider establishing their own businesses,” the young woman added.

Around the same time as Beauty Jan, another young woman, Iqra Jan, a 20-year-old resident of Pethnoo Salar in Anantnag district, embarked on her fish farming journey. She too sought guidance from the Fisheries Department.

With two kanals of land at her disposal, Iqra ventured into trout farming. “Each kilogram of trout is valued between Rs 400 and Rs 500.

We earn an annual income of six lakh rupees from trout sales,” she told Gaon Connection. “I have managed to save quite a bit from my farm and now, seeing our success story, my uncle has also decided to establish his own farm,” she said.

“Anyone with land and access to running water can start a farm,” Iqra added. The advantages of running a fish farm, besides it being a profitable venture, is that women can handle it easily, said Shazia Jan, a mother of three from Pahalgam. She embarked on her journey as a trout farmer eight years ago.
“I got married 12 years ago, and for a few years, I found myself sitting idle at home. It was eight years ago that I decided to support my husband by venturing into our own fish farm, and we have been reaping substantial profits,” she said. Shazia Jan’s trout farm covers one kanal of land and she earns about Rs 6 lakh per annum from it, she said.

“A trout fish farm allows women to work without leaving their homes, upsetting the family dynamics. A farm near the residence can generate a substantial income. And, there are numerous government schemes available to support individuals in this endeavor,” she added.

Mohammad Junaid, a research scholar at Shar-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST), Kashmir, said the trout has a huge scope in Kashmir as it is a cold water fish. “We have so many cold water streams flowing here. It can be reared anywhere where the temperature is below 20 degree celsius and there is running water,” he said.

“We have no shortage of seed here and the government provides all possible support to those who are interested in this sector. There are various schemes for farmers who want to start their fish farm,” Junaid told Gaon Connection.

Jammu and Kashmir boasts more than a thousand private trout fish farms, with trout also thriving in the region’s streams and nallahs, in Lidder, Wangath, Gurez, Hamal, Lam, Sindh, Kishanganga, Sukhnag, Doodhganga, Erin, Ferozepur (Tangmarg), Bringi, Aharbal, Hirpora, Dachigam, Kokernag, Naristan, Madhumati, and Nowbugh.

“There are various schemes including the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampdha Yojna where beneficiaries are provided good subsidies for the construction of fish farms,” said Mohammad Farooq Dar, director, Fisheries Department.__gaonconnection.com