Falguni Hazra

How ornamental fish gave her an income

Four years ago, Falguni Hazra did not know she was getting into a thriving industry when her son made her invest in rearing ornamental fish. Today, the woman who had no income of her own earns a profit of Rs 25,000-30,000 a month.

Dasnagar in Howrah is one of the largest wholesale markets in India for ornamental fish, supplied by thousands of women like Falguni who have formed self-help groups to rear the colourful fish that people all over the world want for their aquariums. Dealers buy the fish for export.

Falguni’s husband Meghnath owns a kirana shop in Keranichak, a village in West Bengal’s Howrah district. They have some land, the eldest son works in a private firm, their daughter graduated last year. It was Surojit, 30, the second son, who saw some friends rearing aquarium fish and got his mother to invest in her own business.

The biggest one-time cost is in building the shallow cement tanks in which they release fish seedlings (Each tank costs Rs 90,000 or so). Cleaning the tanks every quarter is a recurring cost.

Now Falguni, 50, is in her 4th loan cycle, having started with a loan of just Rs 25,000 in 2017. She had started with two tanks and now has six. Falguni is happy with VFS for its help, which has enabled her to grow a small-scale business into a large and profitable one.

Among the varieties Falguni rears are goldfish, black carp, red carp, lion head or Rancho, Orenda, Molly, Plati, Angel and Oscar.

Collection agents from Kolkata and Howrah come to Falguni to buy the fish, paying cash or making online money transfers. They decide the price for the fish, which is then sold to dealers at CTI Market in Howrah.

When it comes to selling the ornamental fish to the collection agents, Falguni gets better prices from the Durga Puja festival season in autumn up to March. In summer, prices are lower.

The COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 was in a way good for Falguni. While there were no sales during the lockdown, Falguni continued to rear the seedlings and ultimately got better prices than in other years.

Published on Mar 30, 2021 | Updated on Apr 13, 2022