The Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University (Mafsu) is promoting fisheries as a means of livelihood for farmers in a big way across the state, particularly in Vidarbha. The university has taken up three major projects of Central government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), the VidarbhaStatutory Development Board (VSDB) and the state government’s Science and Technology Resource Centre (STRC) of the Gondwana University at Gadchiroli.
Mafsu vice-chancellor Dr Ashish Patrurkar told TOI fishery was like cash crop and could bring enough supplementary income to farmers. “Mafsu can give the farmers the right, disease-free seed so that their productivity goes up and produce is good enough to fetch high price. University is also trying to add value to the product as well as guide farmers in marketing strategies. We would be giving them a modern portable outlet with most hygienic conditions,” he said.
Patrurkar said the DST was funding Rs64 lakh for the project while the VSDB was giving Rs23 lakh. The STRC was giving Rs36.8 lakh for the same. DST wants dissemination of fishery technology for poverty alleviation in tribal/rural population of Gadchiroli. STRC funding comes for ‘sustainable livelihood of tribal population of Gadchiroli through scientific fishery technology. VSDB is backing for development of fisheries across Vidarbha.
Dr P T Jadhao, dean fisheries, Mafsu said the aim of all projects was to train farmers in Vidarbha, specifically Gadchiroli in taking up fisheries as a profession. “In Gadchiroli alone Mafsu has trained 100 farmers at ten different places. Beginning from the seeds to selling the mature fish, Mafsu is guiding farmers at each step,” he said.
Officials said farmers generally did not go in for fishery. The fishermen were totally unconcerned about quality. They just fish and sell. Hence, it is necessary to train farmers so they can have their own hatcheries with seeds provided by the university. The process needs testing of water quality, water temperature, soil testing etc. The university does all these tests for farmers, educates them about the quality and type of fish that can be cultivated in Vidarbha region.
Jadhao said under VSDB project, the university took support of Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre to identify all the water bodies in the region. While doing this, the university realized that about 35% of the water bodies in the state were not known till now. “There are backward linkages in which we identify the societies registered as fishing societies. In forward linkages it is found mostly the fishing societies use farmer or fishermen as labour while contractors take the lease of the water body. The farmer gets nothing in this process. University is trying to help farmers realize this,” said Jadhao.