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Showcasing India as a hub for Aquaculture and Fisheries investment
Monday, 24 January, 2022, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Indian Fisheries and Aquaculture sector is considered as a sunrise sector and is poised to play a significant role in the Indian economy in near future. India continues to retain its position as the second largest fish producer in the world with a production of 14.16 million metric tonnes during 2019-20. Nonetheless, the country has untapped potential given its huge natural resources and has the capability to position India as a world leader.

Towards identifying the enablers for achieving the sector’s potential, Confederation of Indian Industry in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, National Fisheries Development Board and the Marine Products Export Development Authority organised the Conference on Fisheries and Aquaculture with the aim of ‘Showcasing India as a hub for Aquaculture and Fisheries investment' on January 21, 2022.

The sector has shown an impressive growth with fish production registering an average annual growth of 7.53% during last 5 years. Besides the domestic market, fisheries and aquaculture sector contribute greatly to India’s export earnings as well. The country exported 12.89 lakh metric tons of fisheries products valued at Rs 46,662 crore (Rs 6.68 billion) during 2019-20, largely mitigating the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing the opening session, Parshottam Rupala, Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying,  congratulated CII for organising the timely event and mentioned that, “There is a need to focus on domestic market consumption along with exports, deploying more scientific methods of production.”

He emphasized that the industry should work along with the department and create a robust plan to ensure higher income for fishers and fish farmers, safe and nutritious food to the consumer and minimize the food loss .

Realising the sector’s potential, Government has committed to a national target to increase fish production to 22 million metric tons by 2024-2025, which will have a positive impact on 28 million fishers and fish farmers and almost twice that number along fish-related value chains.

Focusing on the role of technology to reach the vision, Dr L Murugan, Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, said, “Technology will allow wastelands to be converted to wetlands and thus drive up production towards reaching the target; and also unlock new avenues of investment in high demand segments such as seaweed farming.”

Towards reaching the vision, Government is providing fiscal support through several schemes. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF), has been set up with a fund size of Rs 7,522.48 crore towards creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and inland fisheries sectors and augment the fish production. Further, the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), was launched with an allocation of Rs 20,050 crore, the highest ever investment for fisheries sector.

The PMMSY will be implemented over a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024- 25 in all States/Union Territories. As of January 2022, proposals worth Rs 5,234 crore have been sanctioned, impacting around 16 million beneficiaries.

Going forward, to continue the growth in the marine sector and to achieve the full potential, “It is imperative to focus on market trend, market demand of species, fishing practices, fishing time, necessary infrastructure required, technology upgradation for current fishing vessels, safety and security of fishermen’s in the unlikely events of weather , post-harvest protocols and testing facility to maintain quality and build in traceability,” said Jatindra Nath Swain, secretary - Fisheries, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.

Another important driver in the sector growth story will involve focusing on value added products, specially for the export market, and the private sector is expected to play a key role towards right infrastructure development at right places.

The global fish processing market is segmented into frozen, preserved, dried and others (smoked and surimi); with frozen is the most common fish processing type practiced. The industry believes, that the sector has a lot of untapped potential and a huge scope and opportunity to increase India’s share in the global export market.

Rajnikant Rai, chief executive, Agri Businesses Division, ITC Limited, mentioned, “74% of India’s export is shrimp; however the share of value added products is low at 7%. Thus, there is a huge scope to increase value added exports and in tandem increase price points for fishermen. Towards this, India must focus on strengthening seed quality and availability, smart farming and food safety standards.”

Arabind Das, co-chairman, CII National Committee on Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, stated, “CII with its National Committee on Fisheries is committed to work along with the government and various agencies to achieve the vision setup for the sector; and will work towards positioning India as an investment destination and export leader for marine products.”

The Opening Session was followed by a series of technical sessions focusing on Advances in Post-Harvest Infrastructure and Processing; Institutional Finance and Credit; Role of technologies and innovations in enhancing production and productivity; and Unlocking value through  Value Addition, Standards, Branding & Marketing.

The sessions had representation from key central government agencies including NFDB and MPEDA, state governments and industry, focusing on identifying the key enablers needed to strengthen the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector and pave a roadmap with actions that needs to be implemented to make India, a hub for Aquaculture and Fisheries Investment.
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