Imphal (DIPR): A historic breakthrough has been achieved in fisheries sector in Manipur which is considered as a scientific challenge in aquaculture world. Induced breeding of Sareng (Wallago attu) has been successfully performed with indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) combined with scientific knowledge by the local fish farmers in association with the officials of the Department of Fisheries, Manipur. There is no widely practiced breeding protocol of Wallago attu locally known as Sareng in the world as no scientific hatchery techniques adopted for seed production of Sareng has been in vogue.

Chungkham Kopeshwor Singh, a progressive Sareng fish farmer has been able to carry out this rare scientific feat at his fish farm located at Wangoi Makha Leikai in Imphal West District. He along with his associates namely Kulajit Hijam of Sagolband Tera Tongbram Leikai and Ningthoujam Basanta Singh of Khordak village have shared their knowledge of indigenous technical ideas in addition to the infrastructural support and scientific guidance provided by the State Fisheries Department.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had announced revival of Sareng, an extinct fish species abundantly thrived in the fresh water bodies of Manipur and most relished by the local populace due to its extraordinary taste and health benefits during the celebration of State Level National Fish Farmers Day on 10th July, 2021. Subsequently, the Department of Fisheries, Manipur took up the initiative of Manipur Chief Minister as a Pilot Project under the banner Sareng Project and started popularizing the fish through pond culture practices.

Initially, the most painstaking task of importing Sareng seeds from Bangladesh and Myanmar by surface and air has been provided by the State Fisheries Department and facilitated to the local fish farmers who had expressed keen interest of rearing Sareng. The first display of home grown live Sareng fish was made during the State Level Fish Crop Festival 2021 held in November, 2021 on the eve of Ningol Chakouba festival. With growing interests amongst the fish farmers, the following year witnessed open sale of 2400 kilos of live Sareng cultured indigenously. The local people of Manipur were overjoyed on the revival of Meitei Sareng. People gathered at the site of Fish Mela and commotion ensued while making an attempt to grab the fish despite the hefty price.

The popularity and fascination spellbound by the local Sareng motivated both the farmers and officials of the Fisheries Department to study and explore scientific ways and means to propagate seeds as affordability of imported seeds was at stake. Driven by the public demand for more Sareng, several attempts of induced breeding have been made by the stake holders, however, outnumber of mortality of seed larvae against the survival rate has been observed in the attempts. Undeterred by the successive failures, local fish farmers and fishery officials continued their endeavor of induced breeding with their accumulated knowledge and experiences and until finally, there is dawn of light at the end of tunnel.

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