Trout farming — a
By Abdul Hassan & Shaukat Hayat Saddozai
TROUT fish farming is an important natural and potential
source of income of the farmers of Northern Areas
(NAs). Nature has bestowed the
NAs with large cold water resources with a variety of habitats
that are best suited for trout farming.
Two species of exotic trout are brown trout
(Salmo trutta) and rainbow
(Oncorhynchus mykiss). Trout is
sold for Rs300 per kg in the NAs and Rs500 per kg in the
valleys of Swat.
A research was undertaken to identify the problems faced by
the commercial trout farmers and to determine their
profitability and suggest policy measures for the development
of commercial farming.
The study was conducted in the NAs where trout farming was
carried on commercial basis. Five fish farm areas were
selected for the study (four farms of
the private sector and one public sector’s). The
farmers were interviewed through a comprehensive schedule.
According to the respondents, rainbow trout was the best
specie for farming with the growing season of two years.
An abundant supply of clean and cold water was the primary
requirement for trout culture. Adequate year-round supply is
needed for the expansion of trout culture. The water should be
clean not turbid. The quantity of water depended on the water
quality, farming system and culture techniques.
Land site was the key factor for fish farming where ponds and
hatchery were to be constructed. The soil should retain water
and be suitable for concrete construction. The most important
factor was the quality and quantity of water available to the
site, oxygen demand, carbon dioxide, ammonia, suspended
solids, and the P.H and temperature assessment on any
In the study area, all the farmers reported that they had the
ability to handle water quality problem. Water temperature was
suitable all the year round for trout raising. They had
continuous source of clean and quality water. Pipes were
sufficient in size for quick draining and easy filling. Enough
water was available to fill the ponds and replace the losses.
Farmers owned suitable land with good source of high quality
water. One farmer reported that he had two channels, one from
the spring and the other from a canal which helped him in
managing water supply.
The Trout Research and Multiplication Centre
(TRMC), a research unit of the Karakoram
Agricultural Research Institute (KARINA)
of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council
(PARC) and one private farmer
respondent raised their own eggs, fry or fingerlings. No local
dealer was available for providing eggs, fry fingerlings. Only
TRMC was the reliable source for providing fingerlings.
One farmer had earthen ponds where there were no attacks of
any disease. Other ponds of the sample respondents were made
of concrete. All ponds were of the rectangle shape with good
In the study area, no reliable source of feed was available at
a reasonable cost. All farmers had good and easy pond access
for feeding. All farmers practiced hand feeding. Variable size
of pellet was fed to trout made by sample respondents on their
own choice. Farmers had no equipment for storing the feed
except the TRMC that had some required equipments for trout
The TRMC supplied early fry of average
size 3mm and weight one gram from mid February to mid
March at the rate of Rs2/fry while a fry of 5gm was supplied
at the rate of Rs3 from mid March to April.
Trout was also sold to the consumers at the rate of Rs300kg
except during the breeding season from December to February.
Road access and distance of the customers need great
consideration when choosing a site. The farmers stated that
the area had the potential to build a number of ponds/raceways
if opportunity was provided and markets established.
Rainbow trout was widely accepted as food fish of high
quality. The demand for trout prompted many respondents to
start fish farming in the study area. However, due to the
absence of any market in the area, the farmers could not
benefit from it.
The respondents complained that no dependable services were
available for the diagnosis of diseases. There was no source
for the supply of drugs and chemicals. The area people were
not aware of reproductive biology of fish.
All the sample respondents stated that dependable labour was
available at the affordable wages.
The educational and technical services provided by the
government NGOs to the area farmers needed improvement for
developing the fish culture.
According to respondents, the profit potential of fish farming
was higher than that of other potential investment. The
expected profit was adequate to compensate labour, management
and risk. Fish was the best alternative for land use.
So far, there was no real financial analysis of the economics
of trout production in Northern Areas. Based on the data
collected from the TRMC and farmers’ ponds, some preliminary
calculations were made.
Applying the data, the total costs including the capital costs
and consumption allowances gave excellent results with a cost
of about Rs178 to produce one kg of trout, which was sold for
Rs310 per kg. Costs vary with the level of production, whereas
fixed costs were not affected by it. Variable costs included
the cost of inputs such as pond preparation, fry/fingerlings,
feed, electricity, tools, materials and the cost for manpower/labour.
Salary, depreciation of assets
(excluding land cost), cost of maintenance,
telephone/communications and travelling costs were included in
the fixed costs.
The analysis assessed a profit of Rs132kg of fish, which gave
a rate of return on initial cost of 53 per cent, and the rate
of return on operating cost of 76 per cent.
The demand for trout exists all over Pakistan. The present
domestic trout market was limited to certain hotels,
restaurants and also to the affluent.
The following recommendations can be made on the basis of
field data analysis and observations for promoting trout
* Provision of training for
* Provision of technical services and support to
* Establishing a “survey team” to identify suitable
* Assure the availability of quality feed in the
* Ensure the management of marketing system.
* Priority to assist farmers in
the private sector for the development of commercial trout
farming in the Northern Areas. The government should invest in
fish hatcheries and fish feed plants. However, such
infrastructures should eventually be taken over by the private
* Research for the development of trout fish was the
need of the time.
* Research and development institutions should focus on
conducting studies aimed at improving native stocks through
genetic selection and genetic engineering.
Source: The DAWN