Despite having a massive domestic market, the availability of snakehead fish, a non-vegetarian’s delight, witnessing a significant downward trend over the years. This freshwater fish is also known as murrel, koramenu, korramatta, bomme, etc.
The pricing of snakehead has always been out of the reach of the common man as it invariably costs anywhere from Rs 400 and to Rs 600 a kg, where as other varieties such as botcha, ravulu, bangaru teega etc. cost little around Rs 130 a kg.
With the shrinking freshwater habitats, the potential of snakehead fish production has also comedown drastically in the State. The share of snakehead is just 2 per cent in Telangana’s fish production that amounts to about 2.5 lakh metric tonnes per annum.
The government, which identified the commercial importance, has plans to augment murrel production in addition to its strides towards achieving self-sufficiency in fish production in the State. To start with, the fisheries department has selected Koil Sagar reservoir in Mahbubnagar, which has abundant freshwater supplies, for its experiment.
It may be noted here that in India, the breeding, feeding and culture technology of the murrels has not developed on par with countries – China, Vietnam and Thailand.
As the country still depends on traditional composite culture system, the production of snakehead fish has not been satisfying.
Apart from dwindling favourable aquatic conditions, cannibalism is the other major reason that is stalling the production of this freshwater fish. It may be noted here that though it protects its hatchlings in initial stages, murrel being a predatory fish consumes them in later stage when it doesn’t find food.
Speaking to The Hans India, Fisheries Department Deputy Director V Srinivas said: “In China, they have developed a fish culture with which the predatory murrel has become almost a vegetarian. The kind is now dependent on artificial food there.
Similar experimentation is being carried in the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) in Bhubaneswar to develop the breeding culture. The Telangana government has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the CIFA for technology transfer.”
It will be implemented from the next breeding season in Koil Sagar reservoir, Srinivas said, who recently visited China where he had interacted with some commercial firms that have taken snakehead fish production to new levels.
Referring to the pricing of murrel in China which is as low as Rs 200 a kg, the Deputy Director expressed hope that in Telangana also the fish will become affordable soon if their experimentation yields good results.