MANGALORE July 12: Ashwin Rai of Mangalore city, who did his Ph.D in fisheries, and his friend Ronald D’Souza, also a fisheries graduate, are on a mission to strike it rich in ornamental fish culture.
The two, who did not write the Common Entrance Test for professional courses after their pre-university education because they were keen on pursuing a career in fisheries or agriculture, have taken more than a decade to give shape to their life mission.
They have now set up nearly 200 aquariums in a scientific manner in their 1.5-acre farm, equipped with a modern hatchery and many cement ponds. They are selling them across the State’s border and hope to begin their export sooner or later. By next year-end the two plan to have 400 aquariums and more colourful original species of ornamental fish.
What is striking about their farm is that they have evolved the methods the hard way. They first did a pilot project in rearing ornamental fish in open ponds dug between a coconut plantation — with twin objectives of identifying the problems in going big in an area where they had no pioneers and to test the market for ornamental fish. Problems, they had many. But the good news was that the market was good. Mr. Rai, who made a presentation on the project at the College of Fisheries during a seminar on new technologies in fish culture, said 90 per cent of the ornamental fishes came from China and much of the remaining came from Kerala.
Of the 4,000 varieties in the world, only about a couple of hundred were available in India. Indian export of ornamental fish was negligible at 0.07 per cent of the world exports of this product.
Mr. Rai said those who want to take up self-employment had many options in fisheries and agriculture. Chief guest of the programme and former director of the college H.P.C. Shetty congratulated the two youths for daring to “soil” their hands in fisheries shunning white collar jobs.