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Fri, 22 Nov 2019

Northeast Today

Know the Asia’s Largest Dry Fish Market of Assam

Know the Asia’s Largest Dry Fish Market of Assam
May 22
12:11 2019

Himashree Das


What is dry fish?

Dried fish are short-term edibles in which water loss and salt concentration ensure preservation. It also consists of smoking and salting of the fish. The fermented fish is a well known strategy of food preservation in the northeast region of India. The fermentation technology evolved in the north east by compulsion of people. Popular fermented fish products of this region of India include Shidal and lonailish. Fermented fish contributes a regular menu in the diets of people of almost all categories of the region.

Dry Fish


The Market

Situated in the state of Assam, the market is just 50 kms away from the economic capital of the state Guwahati. It is towards the eastern side of Assam. It is situated in the place called Jagiroad in the Morigaon District.  Jagiroad is famous for its dry fish market. This market is known as the largest dry fish market in Asia. Approximately around Rs 40 cr transactions take place in the market. The market functions in the industrial town where high amount of business deals take place.



During the late 1940’s there used to be a Sunday market functioning in Silchar. People from different places like karimganj and shillong used to come to this market. However during the India Pakistan partition a big market in Dhaka closed down which resulted in the affecting of the Silchar market. Therefore some traders from karimganj came to Jagiroad to check the availability of setting up a market as it was well connected by both train and road transports. The market is situated near the Jagiroad railway station. At last they started a Sunday market somewhere after partition. In the beginning the market started catering to local needs. Gradually neighboring states like Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya entered the Jagiroad market making it an important dry fish trading center of north east.





Area wise this market is not a big place consisting of an approximate of 100 shops operated by the Mahaldars. This is the only market where the maximum transaction of dry fish takes place in Asia. The market generally operates 3 days in a week from Thursday to Saturday. An approximate of 1500 people is associated with this trade during the early days. Fishes from all over India comes to the market. Apart from Assam, different varieties of dry fish from Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Porbandar in Gujarat, Gorakhpur and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Teliamura in Tripura, and Siliguri in West Bengal are supplied. The market also conducts international business by exporting to countries like Bhutan, Malaysia, Singapore and some other Southeast Asian countries. Every year upto 1000-1200 trucks come to the market every year. The price of the fish depends upon the quality and size of the fish. During the peak season the sales go upto 70% and during the off season it remains upto 30%.

The market which is situated near Jagiroad Railway Station is well connected by the railways and national highway no 37. The trading is controlled by the Jagiroad dry fish merchants association. The association also pays a substantial amount of money as taxes and also donates part of its profit to school, colleges, organizations and various sports activities.



“The market has witnessed around 20 percent growth in the last 20 years,” says Kamal Dey, the president of Jagiroad Dry Fish Merchants’ Association which runs the market. The market, set up in 1958, has 150 shops at present. About 4000 people are either directly or indirectly engaged with the market which covers an area of 30 acres. The market receives and supplies dry fish to various parts in trucks, and in trains to and fro Jagiroad railway station, which is located just behind the market. The peak market season is January to March and it remains closed during the monsoon season. One special kind of dried fish sold in the market was known as “Sindal”. This is the costliest item of dried fish and considered as anti malarial by local population. This is prepared by putting the smaller fishes in bamboo cylinder and then sundried. Among the fresh water groups of dried fish, most commonly found were Channapunctatus. Aorichthysseenghala, Puntiussophore, Amblypharyngodonmola, Notopteruschitala, Wallagoattu, Labeorohita etc.The marine species like Bombay duck and shrimps were also found in the market. Dried fishes are first assembled at Jagiroad wholesale market and after their arrival; they were further dried and sorted out quality wise.



The dry fish market has become a cause for concern for the people there. The market, after exemption from GST, is expanding, thereby covering a large residential area. The market usually occupies both sides of the busy Station Road leading to traffic chaos. The Station Road leads to a telecommunications office, post office, Nakhola High School and many residential units. During market days, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the road remains blocked by dry fish-laden heavy vehicles and even a pedestrian can hardly move on the road. The market is developing haphazardly with no proper planning of drainage and sewage system and as such, is creating an unhygienic environment in the area. Street dogs and crows carry the rotten dry fish and scatter them here and there. The odd smell of dry fish also causes discontentment among the people travelling or residing there. The people have urged the district authority to shift the market to the outskirts of the town and to develop it in a scientific manner.



All in all the market has become a great hub of attraction. It is because the dry fish is an authentic food of the north east. People of north east love their dry fish and they add this food item in their every menu. Secondly this market has given great boost to employment for the local people residing there. Many families are running just because their family members are working hard in the market. Thirdly this market leads to capital generation. The export and import, all these processes is making this market a big name in the global platform and that’s why this market has already been termed as Asia’s Largest Dry Fish Market already.



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