Ningol Chakkouba Fish Fair 2021 - Hope it is not a ruse
IFP Editorial: The Fish farmers JAC said the minister had given an assurance that the fund will be released soon. We hope, the assurance is not a ruse to make them participate in the fish fair and avoid an embarrassment.
It was a last minute assurance from the Fisheries Minister S Rajen that the fish farmer cooperative societies decided to join the Annual Fish Fair Cum Fish Crop Competition. Altogether a sum of Rs 129 crore sanctioned by the National Co-operative Development Corporation (NCDC) for disbursement to fisherman beneficiaries of Manipur were being held up and the state tried to shirk its responsibility by saying that it was not related to the Fisheries department, which led to the threat of boycotting the state sponsored fish fair held annually on the eve of Ningol Chakkouba. The Fish farmers JAC said the minister had given an assurance that the fund will be released soon. However, the JAC said that if the state government fails to fulfil its promise, it will continue with its protests. We hope, the assurance is not a ruse to make them participate in the fish fair and avoid an embarrassment. Ningol Chakkouba is one the biggest festivals of Manipur and it falls on November 6, the second day of Hiyanggei. The state fisheries directorate started organizing the annual fish fair on the eve of Ningol Chakkouba with the twin objective of encouraging fish farmers of the state and availing fish at affordable rates to the general population.
The fish fair cum fish crop competition was successfully held on Friday with the active participation of fish farmers from every nook and corner of the state. It is said, around 90,000 kg of different varieties of fish including indigenous ones were put for display and sale at Mapal Kangjeibung, at rates fixed by the state government.
This year’s special attraction was the display of Sareng indigenously bred in Manipur with fingerlings brought from outside. As Sareng is a special delicacy widely preferred in Manipur especially in the valley, the State Government had launched Manipur Sareng Project in July this year with an objective to make fresh Sareng available to the people of the State. On Friday, fresh Sareng weighing around 1 kg was on display. On most occasions, the Sareng Thongba item had been replaced byGrass Carp mixed sometimes with Ngahei.
What we know as Meitei Sareng breeds and flourishes mostly in riverine systems.So, it is open to interpretation whether this Sareng variety bred in local fish farms could be called Meitei Sareng or not. One thing is sure, though locally produced in fish farms it will never taste like the Meitei Sareng of yore. The real Meitei Sareng sometimes caught from the rivers is available occasionally, but the size is small and the price very high. One buys it out of necessity for ritual events or if one can afford it. Rich families use to buy it and mix it with imported Sareng during feasts including Ningol Chakkouba. Yet, the effort by the Chief Minister and Fisheries minister to avail locally bred fresh Sareng is much appreciated.
It may be mentioned that the annual fish requirement of the State is about 56,000 MT while only about 33,000 MT is being produced by the fish farmers annually. As such, there is a production deficit of around 23,000 MT, and around Rs. 4 crore is spent annually in importing fish to make up this deficit. This year, Rs. 1 lakh was awarded to the first prize winner of the Fish Crop competition while Rs. 70,000 and Rs. 50,000 were given to second and third prize winners. Moreover, Rs. 10,000 each was awarded to selected fish farmers as consolation prizes. And Rs. 20,000 was also given to the fish farmer who produced the maximum quantity of indigenous fish variety.