Mumbai, India - Concerned over country's diminishing livestock, Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar said that the government was exploring all possibilities for integrated development of this sector.
The minister was speaking at the inauguration of INFISH, the Indian Fish Festival, 2009, at Hyderabad. The festival has been jointly organised by the National Fisheries Development Board and the Government of Andhra Pradesh.
Pawar informed that such exhibitions would be organised in different places in the country every year so as to reach out to large populace of stakeholders. The minister also laid the foundation stone of the new NFDB office complex in Hyderabad.
Sharing that the fisheries sector was being targeted as an important area for national development, Pawar said, "With a view to focusing exclusively on production, processing and marketing of fish and fishery products and position a national level coordinating body between state governments and various research institutions, we have established the National Fisheries Development Board in Hyderabad as an autonomous body under our ministry. The annual growth rate of over 4% in fisheries is indicative of the immense opportunity in the coming years. It is in this context that the government of India is exploring all possibilities for integrated development of fishery sector and establishing NFDB is one major step in this direction."
The minister said that along with production, there was also a need for promotion of domestic market for ensuring remunerative prices to the producers. This could be achieved by educating the general public on the nutritional and medicinal values of fish by conducting seminars and recipe competitions and other awareness programmes. INFISH 2009, he said, was focusing on promoting fish as a health food by encouraging setting up of food courts exclusively dedicated to fish and fishery products.
The minister appealed to the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh to focus on women self-help groups as an important livelihood promotion opportunity in the state. He expressed happiness over the fact that about seven lakh women self help groups were financially well supported through several banks in Andhra Pradesh. The minister also advised MPEDA to focus on export of ornamental fish.
Elaborating on the vast potential of fisheries in India and the need for promoting new technologies through fish festivals, Pawar said, "India is not only a maritime country but also an important aquaculture country in the world, holding third position in global production and second place in aquaculture, next only to China. The contribution of Indian fish to the food basket of the world has been substantial. Fishery products also constitute the largest group of our agriculture exports. We have 17% of the global population to sustain, with only 2.3% of land, but about 4.2% of water. Providing nutritious food and gainful employment are the foremost challenges in the country today. With increasing pressure on land for various human activities, water resources in different forms are an option and opportunity for enhancing food production through fisheries. India has 8118 km. of coastal line covering about 2 million sq km of EEZ and 0.50 million sq km. of continental shelf, from these resources India has an estimated potential of four million tonnes from the marine sector. Similarly, 3.15 million hectares reservoirs, 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks and 1.2 million hectares of brackish water area offer a production potential of more than 9.5 million tonnes. As against total potential of 12 million tonnes, we are planning to achieve a modest production level of 10 million tonnes towards the end of this plan period. In this context, optimum utilisation of resources becomes pivotal to achieve the targeted production. While the required financial support is being provided to the farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs connected with fisheries sector through various ongoing programmes of the centrally sponsored schemes, NFDB, RKVY etc., enhancement of productivity and production are the key challenges to achieve the targeted production.
'Various ICAR research institutes in India as well as the other research organisations have been able to develop new technologies which have the potential for enhancing productivity and production of various aquaculture and fishery resources. To make this happen technology has to be brought to the doorstep of user community. This calls for training and demonstration of the available technologies to the users. With a view to taking the technology to the doorstep of the users, it is necessary to have such exhibitions at frequent intervals, in which the latest technologies are showcased and the technical aspects are discussed with the stakeholders.
"I am glad to see the variety of technologies displayed by the ICAR Research Institutions, the Fisheries Institutions of Government of India, universities, private sector etc. The display of various species of fishes along with feeds and feed supplements and culture practices would help the farmers in choosing the right candidate species for intensive and extensive aquaculture in tanks, ponds and reservoirs."
Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr Y S Rajashekara Reddy, Union Minster of State for Agriculture & Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Professor KV Thomas, and Andhra Minister for Animal Husbandry Dairying & Fisheries Parthasarathi also addressed the gathering.