The Centre is actively considering the demand for according industry status to the fisheries sector, Central Fisheries Development Commissioner P. Paul Pandian said here on Thursday.
In response to the request made by Seafood Exporters’ Association of India president V. Padmanabham at a national workshop and interactive meet on value addition of marine products held by Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) here, Mr. Pandian said the Centre was firm on encouraging the realisation from seafood sector by offering a slew of incentives to fishermen and exporters.
“Various schemes with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore have been launched to usher in a blue revolution by enhancing the marine production. Guidelines are being framed for launching of a new scheme for development of infrastructure such as cold chains with an allocation of Rs 7,500 crore in five years. Under the scheme, the government will offer soft loans at an interest of 5%,” he said.
Participating in the workshop, MPEDA Director (Marketing) T. Dola Sankar gave an overview of the value added seafood trade in major markets and assistance schemes.
He regretted that value addition in Indian seafood industry was only 6% as against the 65% in Thailand. “Unless we improve upon the value addition, our realisation will not go up significantly,” he said.
Mr. Padmanabham, in his address, pointed out how value addition was not taking off due to risk factors involved in making huge investments. Disbursal of soft loans and other support from the authorities can encourage it in a big way, he observed.
Mentioning that their interaction with Union Minister Suresh Prabhu was quite encouraging, Mr. Padmanabham said the industry stakeholders had been told to ready an action plan to improve the earnings so as to increase foreign exchange and providing jobs as well.
“The top exporters should take the lead in making suggestions in availing the supports being extended by the government,” he suggested.
Andhra Pradesh Food Processing Society CEO Y.S. Prasad said out of 67 marine food processing units in the State, the government had provided a subsidy of Rs 160 crore to 30 units in the past four years, adding to the processing capacity by 1.5 lakh tonne.
National Fisheries Development Board Executive Director G. Ratanraj and Joint Director of Fisheries P. Anil Kumar also spoke on the occasion.