With government focusing on undertaking a “blue revolution," India's fish production has increased by 19 percent over the last three years.
Radha Mohan Singh, the head of India’s Ministry of Agriculture, which is also responsible for the fisheries sector, said the government‘s focus on using new technology for increasing fish production has been responsible for achieving the double-digit growth.
Speaking at the Aqua Goa Mega Fish Festival 2017, Singh said India’s government had targeted fisheries for investment because they are a fast-growing sector providing nutrition and food security to a large portion of the country’s population, in addition to providing income and employment to fishermen and fish farmers.
Under its new plan, India’s government has created an umbrella scheme titled “Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries,” funded with an initial budget outlay of INR 30 billion (USD 467 million, EUR 396 million).
The program will seek to improve training and capacity-building of fishers and fish-farmers, encourage species diversification and proper fish health management, and fortify the country’s scientific research and the science community’s advising of the private sector. Another separate focus of the Blue Revolution program has been to move traditional in-shore fishers into deep-sea fishing.
In the past decade, India has recorded an average annual growth of 14.8 percent in production of fish and fish products in the last decade, as compared to the global average of 7.5 percent in the last decade, Singh said. According to the ministry, India earned around USD 5.8 billion (EUR 4.9 billion) through exports of fish and fishery products during 2016-17 financial year.
Moving forward, India wants to grow every sector of its fisheries economy, with a specific focus on marine production, inland aquaculture, and mariculture.
Indian production from marine fisheries increased by 6.5 percent year-over-year in the 2016-17 financial year, and the growth rate of inland fisheries production went up by more than 26 percent, Singh said. Singh said the country was especially proud of its advances in prawn production and its new status as the largest producer and exporter of prawns in the world.
Another aspect of India’s Blue Revolution is the goal of improving the income of the country’s aquaculture workers and fishers. The government has set the goal of doubling all farmers’ income by 2022, and Singh said the Blue Revolution program is set to play an important role in that effort.
Under the program, the government has begun providing coastal states with financial and technical support including training and capacity building for the development of mariculture initiatives, Singh said. In addition, the government is providing 50 percent financial assistance up to INR 4 million (USD 62,234, EUR 52,898) to the traditional fishers, to help them transition to deep-sea fishing vessels. The government estimates that equipping standard fishing vessels in India with modern technology to allow them to go deep-sea fishing costs approximately INR 8 million (USD 124,469, EUR 105,796) per vessel.
Moreover, the minister said that financial assistance for housing of fishermen has been increased from INR 75,000 (USD 991, EUR 1,168) to INR 120,000 (USD 1,869, EUR 1,586) in general states and INR 130,000 (USD 2,025, EUR 1,719) for the northeastern and hilly states under the Welfare Scheme for Fishermen.