India should embark on data-driven fisheries research rather than on a hypothesis-based approach, according to a fisheries scientist. In the meantime, there is also a need to update data at various levels to make best use of the data-driven research results in the intended field.
Shivakumar M, Professor of Aquatic Biology in the Mangaluru-based College of Fisheries, expressed this view in an opinion paper on ‘Need for shift from hypothesis to data-driven approach in fisheries research’ in the journal of ‘Modern Concepts and Developments in Agronomy,’ published by the US-based Crimson Publishers.
Shivakumar said that intricacies between parameters in a dynamic aquatic system are so complex, conclusions derived from sample surveys and hypothesis-based research may often go wrong.
Referring to a case report, he said freshwater prawn farming is scanty in India. Carp fish products are not available in Indian market except stray quantity in the North-Eastern States. However, some research groups worked on value-chain in carps and prawn spending a few crores of rupees on research. The money could have been used on the right issues bothering the sector if they had access to production and consumption data on prawn and carp fish.
Shivakumar said that developing and under-developed countries cannot afford to waste time and money on hypothesis when dealing with system-level research.
Stressing the need for the use of data-driven research, he said the advancement in information technology helps collect and process huge data. This enables better understanding of correlations between parameters, and results can be precisely predicted.
He said the results of ‘Data Driven Approach in Research’ (DDAR) will play vital role in designing developmental programmes and policy-making. DDAR also attracts funding support from industries.
Stating that the country is harnessing the technology and trying to build a strong data base, he said checks and measures needed to be taken at data collection point. All the available data has to be updated after verifying at the ground level.
To shift from hypothesis to data-driven approach, Shivakumar said, the country needs to update data such as demography; farmers’ information; fish catch; water bodies; species cover v/s area; production and productivity; consumption pattern against price, species, season and product; and shift in preferences, among others.
Shivakumar told BusinessLine that the currently available data are not accurate. The data on tanks, ponds and reservoirs available with the departments are not revised for decades.