Trout farms have proved to be lucrative business for Nuwakot’s farmers. They are also fabulous getaways for Kathmandu’s vacation-craving population.
Bikram Lama dips his net in a pond where hundreds of fish swim in all directions. A couple of fish are trapped in the net, twisting and turning as he pulls it up. He grabs one by the hand as it struggles. “This is why they are called rainbow trout,” he says, pointing to layers of red, green and blue colors glinting from its scales in the warm sunlight.
Mr. Lama is the owner of Rainbow Trout Fish Farm located beside Pasang Lhamu Highway. The farm was built by his father, the Late Purna Bahadur Lama, who is considered a pioneer in the local trout farming industry. Known among friends as Gopal dai, he started Nepal’s first trout farm after bringing in rainbow trouts from Japan. “My father started this farm in 1997 with one pool and 400 baby trouts. He expanded the farm later with a grant from the National Agriculture and Resource Centre.” he says.
Today the farm has 13 big concrete ponds surrounded by trees and bushes. Cold water diverted from a natural stream uphill flows through the ponds continuously that never dry up but tend to flood during the monsoon. “During downpours, night or day, we have to run around the ponds ensuring they don’t get flooded,” says Mr. Lama who lives near the farm. “Raising trout requires hard work, patience and attention to detail,” he says. The temperature has to be maintained between 10-20 C and the water needs to keep flowing. He often gets help from locals, especially young boys who he employs when they don’t have school.
Mr. Lama’s farm currently produces around three tons of trout each year which he sells for Rs. 1300/kg at the restaurant located in the farm’s premises. At the restaurant, you can pick the fish right from the ponds and have it prepared in one of fifteen different ways, and enjoy it right there. Another reason the fish taste great there? A terrific view of the snowy peaks of Ganesh Himal and Killer Mountain visible.
THE HEALTHIEST CHOICE IN FISH
- A cooked serving of farmed rainbow trout rich in the omega-3 fatty acids are linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and certain types of cancer.
- Trout has high protein content which helps to lose weight, retain lean muscle mass and feel fuller after eating.
- Trout has relatively low-fat and cholesterol content which makes it a good protein substitute for meats like beef, pork and lamb, which contains significantly higher amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.