North Bihar criss-crossed by a
large number of shifting rivers is known for its chaurs (land depressions),
mauns (ox-bow lakes) and other wetlands of various hues. These water bodies
serve the lifeline of the region by maintaining the ground water table and
meeting the requirements of drinking and irrigation. Besides all these wetlands
constitute the reservoirs of fisheries and a diverse group of aquaphytes and
help meet the energy and protein demands of the suffering humanity in far-off
flood ridden localities.
North Bihar wetlands are ideal
sites for cultivating gorgon nut, water chestnut and fodder plants. Euryale
ferox Salisb (Makhana) is the foremost aquatic macrophyte grown as cash crop in
the non-calcareous Kosi-Kamala belt. The plant is known for its starch and
protein qualities. It forms a basis of livelihood to thousands of fishing
families. Fish farmers of the banpar sub-caste are well-versed in harvesting
Makhana seeds from the pond bottom. Process being an arduous one, the fishermen
from this area are hired for the purpose in Assam Beels, which also grow this
crop in the semi-wild state. Makhana growing wetlands in North Bihar also yield
a sizeable portion of air breathing fishes. Of late there has been an increasing
awareness for harnessing their productivity at an optimum level under concurrent
and rotational methods of integrated aquaculture with carp fishes as well.
Recent years have also witnessed Makhana being grown under rotational cropping
with arable lands like wheat and potato. This practice is getting popular in the
flood ravaged Saharsa district which has a high water table and bamboo borings
have made it possible to procure irrigation water at a relatively low cost.
Integrating aquaculture along with
these aquaphytes could help augment the wetland productivity to its optimum. The
paper takes into account certain avenues suggesting better utilisation of North
Address: Department of Botany
C.M.Science College, Darbhanga 846004.
Phone: 06272-30918Fax: 06272-22880