Union Budget 2023-24 Fish farmers want Govt thrust on export of pan-ready fish

 Union Budget 2023-24 Fish farmers want Govt thrust on export of pan-ready fish

Cage system of fish farming

Mathew Joseph

India is the third-largest fish producing country in the world with a production of 9.6 million MT. The fisheries and seafood industry accounts for 7.96 per cent of the total fish production across the globe. More than 20 million fishermen and fish farmers are primarily dependent on this sector for a source of livelihood. However, lack of basic infrastructure and sustained efforts to revive the sector has hindered its growth, and exports have been the worst hit. Some of the key challenges faced by the industry are:
♦ Lack of fund allocation for the development of the sector
♦ Lack of robust infrastructure solutions for efficient use of resources
♦ Inadequate efforts to revive aquaculture
♦ Lack of modern amenities in wet markets
♦ Lack of access to modern equipment and tools to fish farmers

For the forthcoming Union Budget 2023-24, we have certain recommendations. These include:

Promotion of aquaculture
The budget should make allocations to promote aquaculture. Today, aquaculture in India is being practiced in traditional methods, and hence, there is limited production of produce like Shrimp and Baasa, although there is huge demand for these varieties of fish in the global markets. India exports about Rs 45,000 crore worth fish and fish products annually and about 60 per cent of this revenue comes from shrimp alone. However, about 90 per cent of the shrimp production in India takes place in just two states – Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Despite availability of land and resources, we are unable to increase shrimp production in other states. There must be budget allocations to set up modern aquaculture practices across the country.

Budget allocation to build modern infrastructure solutions in wet markets
The budget should make allocations to build cold chain facilities in wet markets to reduce wastage. Setting up of chillers, freezers, and facilities to store fish in organic methods in wet markets will reduce the burden on the fishermen community. This will directly yield larger profits to the fishermen. This is an urgent need of the community and is fundamental to the growth of the industry.

Fish farmers seek Govt support

Efforts towards waste reduction
Of the total production of fish in India, only about 70% of the yield is consumed and the rest is considered as wastage. Due to lack of infrastructure and last mile connectivity concerns, about 30% of the yield is wasted even before it reaches the customer. We must build robust infrastructure facilities to ensure the waste reduction percentage is reduced.

Allocate natural resources for fish farming
Many countries have reserved rivers, lakes, seas and all natural resources for aquaculture. Such areas are restricted from tourism and are exclusively dedicated to practicing aquaculture. Adopting such practices here in India will give a big leap to the aquaculture practice in India. Fishermen must be given licenses to practice marine aquaculture in natural resources like seas. With the use of technology, these practices will be beneficial for fish exports.

Thrust upon exports of pan-ready fish and fish products
Countries like China make use of Tilapia fish parts like skin, head, and eyes that are often considered waste in India due to lack of factories that can convert these wastes into products. Although states like Maharashtra and Gujarat are using these parts and exporting, the quantity is minimal. Fund allocation is necessary to build factories that will further generate revenue from these products.

Orientation programs and training workshops to increase awareness in fish farmers to compete in global markets
The fishermen community in India is mostly dependent on traditional methods to practice farming. Through workshops on right practices, making efficient use of available resources and training programmes, the government can uplift the community.”

Mathew Joseph is COO & Co-Founder, FreshToHome

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