Jan. 8: HYDERABAD - Inland fish farming is changing many lives in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and even Rajasthan, where farmers are not only able to meet domestic demand but also export their rich harvest.
“Andhra Pradesh in the south and Punjab and Haryana in the north have emerged as major centres of fish farming within the country, surpassing traditional states in fish production,” said World Food Prize 2005 winner, Mr Modadugu V. Gupta.
“Fish is the most internationally traded commodity today worth about $63 billion, with most countries exporting about 40 per cent of their produce,” Mr Gupta said here. The fisheries and aquaculture expert, who has been promoting fish farming in Asian countries to help farmers feed themselves and earn a livelihood, said initially many farmers had taken up aquaculture as a subsidiary livelihood but it had now become their primary income source. Interestingly, in the desert state of Rajasthan, saline water that restricts the growing of crops is proving to be a good resource for fish farming, yielding about one ton of produce per hectare.
Though much lower than the production in Andhra Pradesh, it is a boon for farmers who otherwise could get hardly any yield from their fallow land. According to Mr Gupta, fish farming could also help rejuvenate land damaged due to excessive use of pesticide.
A retired assistant director of the Malaysia-based World Fish Centre, Mr Gupta has been striving to help raise awareness and promote aquaculture through active involvement of NGOs. “There is always a gap between technology and development. So we need more involvement of NGOs to bridge this gap. They can not only provide motivation, training and micro-credit but also ensure technology inputs and marketing support. In fact, provide an end-to-end product.”
Expressing keenness to help Indian farmers replicate the success stories, Mr Gupta said he is currently helping Mozambique formulate an aquaculture development policy and also helping farmers in Bangladesh.