Arup Kumar Das
Senior Research Fellow (Fisheries), AICRP-IFS, Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, Assam (India)
The present study was conducted at one wholesale cum retail (Daily Bazar) and three retail fish markets (Doomdooma, Rupai and Cherrapatty) of Tinsukia, Assam to assess the existing market structure, infrastructure facilities and hygienic conditions of the markets. The study has shown that the existing market infrastructure is inadequate in terms of physical structure, electricity, drainage facilities, water supply and other basic amenities required for fish marketing. A three tier marketing system identified. The present report may serve as the baseline study for future use for planning and development of fish markets for efficient handling and marketing of the highly perishable fish. The study recommended that developing the market with basic facilities such as platform, proper flooring, drainage system, lavatory and establishment of cold storage and preservation facilities.
Key words: Fresh fish, Infrastructure, Market channel, Hygiene
i)        Introduction
Fish market is a place where the fishes and fish products of commercial importance are subjected to sale. Regulation of fish production and consumption through sale is known as fish mar­keting (Gandhi & Talsania, 2013). Market infrastructure includes wholesale market, retail market and fish retail outlets. In wholesale markets, large quantities of fishes are collected from the surrounding places sold to other wholesalers and retailers (Biswas, 2006).
Fish marketing is a flourishing trade in the economy of Assam as it is a preferred food item of 95 % of the state's population. There is a wide gap between the present supply and requirement of fish, which is partially met by the supply from other fish producing States.  In spite of high potential of inland fishery resources, the State of Assam is yet to achieve self-sufficiency in fish production. Hence, the deficit is met by the supplies from Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar. Fish is marketed in three major forms in the state viz., fresh fish, dried fish and fish seed. Large numbers of intermediaries are involved in the distribution process of fresh fish marketing. Women are also involved in the retail trade in the markets and door to door sales in some selected parts of Assam like Kamrup. A well organized marketing network is essential for distribution of fish in the State at reasonable price (Anonymous, 2012).
Markets in Assam have inadequate infrastructure in terms of quality and quantity. Water logging in pathways in rainy season hinders movement of goods and people and the unpaved lanes and bye-lanes inside the markets become slippery and slushy. Temporary thatched bamboo sheds constructed by sellers for selling their goods inside the market are non-durable due to prolong monsoon, heavy rains and gales and required to be refurbished. Infrastructure of the rural markets, therefore, requires up-gradation to bring exponential growth in village economy through realization of better prices by the farmers.
Although a lot of work has been done on different aspects of fisheries and fish market, but reports on fish market infrastructure and species availability in fish markets of Tinsukia is meager. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to find out the status of fish market of Tinsukia. Attempts were also made to know the hygienic conditions of fish market in Tinsukia.
Results obtained from present work would be helpful to Fish­eries Department to develop strategies, policies and plans for training and extension work in marketing. The result would also help to improve the status of fish marketing. This work would provide information to researchers, traders and fisher folks re­garding the status of fish markets to improve the quality of fish for better earning.
ii)      Objectives
The objectives of the present study were as under noted -
1. To study the marketing channel and market infrastructure of fish market with special reference to Tinsukia district of Assam.
2. To study the fish species availability and their sources of arrival at Tinsukia fish market of Assam.
3. To put forward the scientific recommendations accompanied by Policy implications for the development of fish market at Tinsukia District of Assam

iii)    Methodology
A survey was conducted during December, 2013 covering one wholesale cum retail and three retail markets located at Tinsukia dealing with fresh fishes. The markets were selected purposively and all sellers within each market were selected for detailed enquiry. The primary data was collected through personal interview using pretested questionnaire. Identification and recording of arrival of various species was done with personal care. Other relevant information like market infrastructure, areas, and facilities were recorded through physical observation. Data were recorded in MS Excel followed by tabulation and classification. For this study, data   from both primary as well as secondary sources were taken.
iv)    Results and Discussion
Daily Bazar wholesale market is one of the important and largest wholesale markets in Tinsukia. During the month of December, 2013, a survey was conducted covering the wholesale fresh fish market of Daily Bazar. The existing market infrastructure is not so well due to the lack of proper management. Drainage system is almost block due to rice husk cover that they were using while transportation of fresh fish from different places.  Other facilities available are proper shed (pucca shed) with electricity supply, but they have to pay taxes to the Municipality of Assam Government. Icing, packaging & storage facilities of fish are somehow arranged by the wholesalers. No tap water supply is available but hand pump water is used in the market, congested parking facilities for loading and unloading of imported fishes is seen. The entire floor is made up of cement but starting to damaged or deteriorate. A complete count of the retailers from all the four markets have been done and market wise count of retailers is furnished in table 1.
 Table 1: Total number of fresh fish Retailers operating at different Fish Market

The above table shows that altogether 75 nos. of retailers is dealing with fresh fishes at different markets of Tinsukia and highest numbers of retailers were found at Daily bazar.
The Table 2 depicts the infrastructure scenario of fresh fish markets of Tinsukia namely Daily Bazar, Doomadooma, Rupai and Cherrapatty. All the markets are having pucca makeshifts with an open hall and provision of electricity except in Cherrapatty, but there is no provision of proper drainage, tap water supply and cleaning of the stalls.
During the market survey very important and interesting facts were recorded such as the huge quantities of different kind of species were arriving from different states. Some of the major states are Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Chennai (Tamil Nadu), and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). Some marine and brackish water fishes were also arriving from Bangladesh & large number  of local fishes are coming from the riverine, wetland, lake,  ponds of various places namely Guijan, Sadiya, Dholla, Sonitpur, Nagaon, Barpeta.
The different composition of fish arrival indicates that one third  share comes from outside, which include about 50% from Andhra Pradesh, 10% from Bangladesh and remaining dry fish and minnows from Gujarat, Chennai and Uttar Pradesh through Jagiroad, Assam. The local fish landed include 90% of IMC and remaining 10% cat fish and other local species.
Most significance finding is that some of the species such as Paccu, Pungus, Scampi (Prawns), Hilsha, Eel, Mola, Pabda, Tengra etc are having highest consumer preference. Remaining species namely Rohu, Catla, Mrigal, Tilapia, Silver carp, Common carp, Gonius, Puntius, Channa ,Magur etc were contributed by mainly Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Barpeta, Nagaon and Guijan i.e. Tinsukia itself. It is observed that there are 29 numbers of wholesalers in this market. From these dealers, retailers purchase and sell in major live fish markets namely Doomdooma, Rupai, Cherrapatty retail market and to other markets located nearby Tinsukia. Existing cold storage facility is insufficient, even though less storage facility is required because of high demand for fresh fish. Fish being highly perishable should be iced as soon as it is harvested. For that sufficient quantities of ice need to be supplied to markets and fish landing centers. Similarly Fish cannot be stored at room temperature and needs to be stored at low temperatures to prevent spoilage. Therefore, cold storage and ice plants are critical infrastructural inputs for efficient marketing of fish. But, markets of Tinsukia have limited facilities of ice plant and cold storage which contributed to the spoilage of unsold fish.
Reportedly there is no freezing plant in Tinsukia. The market infrastructure and facilities are limited and congested, posing difficultly in trading fish and fishery products. A related study found that wealthier and politically powerful traders tend to capture a disproportionate share of the facilities in congested fish markets, whether wholesale or retail. They also distort the prices in the market wishfully to eliminate the poorer farmer/traders. There should be proper regulatory mechanism to check these phenomena of marginalizing of the small of traders. The ownership of land is not with market functionaries /association which hamper the infrastructural development in the market. Storage space for fish is very less. The hygiene condition as sanitary, toilet, drainage system is poor.
There is parking problem of vehicles, particularly for large trucks coming from Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country. Transportation facilities are important for quick disposal of fish from landing centre or farm site to consuming centers. Fish being perishable, the shortest time it takes to reach consumer, higher is the price realized.
One of the major problems in Tinsukia fish markets is that in one hand the design, layout and sanitary condition of the markets were not up to the mark, during observation, on the other hand, it was found that some part of market halls like market floor and selling platform were damaged which required repairing.
Table 2: Present Infrastructure facilities of Fish Markets at Tinsukia
[Click on the image to see bigger]
A survey was conducted covering the wholesale and retail fresh fish market of Tinsukia. Market infrastructure, areas, and facilities were recorded through physical observation. Daily Bazar wholesale market is one of the important and largest wholesale markets in Tinsukia having pucca shed with electricity supply. Icing, packaging & storage facilities of fish are arranged by the wholesalers. No tap water supply is available but tube well water is used in the market and drainage system is not working properly, congested parking facilities for loading and unloading of imported fishes is observed. Daily Bazar retail fish market is having old pucca house building and front space open with facilities for weighing. Drainage system facilities and hand pump for drinking water purpose are provided by the government.  Doomdooma retail fish market is one of the oldest markets popularly known in Tinsukia, which is specialized in fresh water fish marketing. It is having a pucca shed with tin roof with provision of electricity but no tap water supply and drainage facilities were observed. Total 22 numbers of fresh fish retailers are operating in the market. Each retails shop having about 30 sq. ft area. Rupai  retail  fish market is having pucca shed for each retailers with proper electricity and drainage facilities, whereas Cherrapatty market is presently located in open space but pucca shed is being developed by local civil authority. 
On the basis of survey and interview conducted with the fish retailers and observations during my study, some of the drawbacks in the physical design, layout of the markets were identified. Although all the markets have the provision of electricity, no water supply and proper drainage facilities were observed. The floors of the fish markets are concretized (except Cherrapatty) but filthy and there is no hygienic disposal system of waste. These findings about the fish market infrastructure substantiate study of the Tripura fish market where the market infrastructure were also poor (Upadhyay, 2008). It is known that Tsukiji fish market of Tokyo is the big­gest wholesale fish market of the world. This fish market has cold storage rooms, non slippery floor, continuous temperature control, adequate light and auction facilities. Floor of markets in Bobigny (France) and Bielefeld (Germany) were covered with tiles. Automatic doors were used in the markets. Restrooms were located away from the seafood Departments with the hand washing facilities and lavatory. Workers had to wear plastic boots, coats, caps and gloves in the fish market. Chemi­cal solutions were available for the disinfection of boots, coats, caps and gloves. Routine health checkups of workers were car­ried out by the administration in all markets (Mol and Saglam, 2004). Another study found the erratic supply of electricity, inadequate cold storage facilities and stalls in the markets of Nigeria (Olalusi et al. 2010). The fish sellers of Okawango delta, Botswana were constrained by several factors including lack of preservation facilities and transport (Adeokun et al. 2006). Similarly, findings of present study showed that even basic facilities like electricity, water, drainage and proper flooring were not found in the fish markets of Tinsukia. Hygienic conditions were found to be very poor.
i)        Policy Implications
The following are the some suggestions for policy formulation;
  • The open halls of the markets should be converted to a closed building with provision of automatic door, fly proof netting in all windows, exhaust vents and all openings and powerful air curtain at all entrance.
  • The surface of the walls, partitions and floor can be made with tiles for easy cleaning.
  • Drain can be made near the all platform for easy drainage of water and ice melt water.
  • Adequate numbers of exhaust fan have to be fitted inside the halls.
  • Instead of hand pump an over head tank can be made so that continuous supply of water is possible.
  • All the platforms can be provided with tap to supply potable water in all the time.
  • Each vending platform can be provide with dustbin (with lid) so that store of waste without contamination with raw material can be possible.
  • Drain tube can be made from the each vending platform to drain the water so that it will not splash in the ground which will eliminate the possibility of contamination and inconvenience.


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