India has the potential to become a world leader in fisheries and aquaculture

The Indian fisheries and aquaculture sector is considered a rising star, with the potential to play an important role in the Indian economy in the near future. With a production of 14.16 million metric tons in 2019-2020, India maintains its position as the world’s second largest fish producer. Nevertheless, given its vast natural resources, India has untapped potential and the ability to establish itself as a global leader.

In order to identify the catalysts for realizing the potential of the sector, the Confederation of Indian Industry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy, the National Fisheries Development Board and the Marine Products Export Development Authority, organized the Fisheries and Aquaculture Conference with the aim of “Presenting India as a hub for investment in aquaculture and fisheries” on January 21, 2022.

A quick look at the growth of the aquaculture and fisheries sector

The sector has experienced impressive growth, with fish production registering an average annual growth of 7.53% over the past 5 years. Apart from the domestic market, the fisheries and aquaculture sectors also contribute greatly to India’s export earnings. The country exported 12.89 lakh metric tons of fish products worth Rs 46,662 crore ($6.68 billion) in 2019-2020, largely mitigating the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.

Addressing the opening session, Parshottam Rupala, the Honorable Minister of Fisheries, Livestock and Dairy, commended CII for organizing this timely event and mentioned that “there is a need to focus on domestic market consumption as well as exports, deploying more scientific methods of production”.

He stressed that the industry should work with the ministry and create a solid plan to ensure higher incomes for fishermen and fish farmers, safe and nutritious food for the consumer and minimize food loss.

National target AT Increase fish production in 2022

To achieve potential of the sector, the government has committed to achieving a national target to increase fish production to 22 million metric tonnes by 2024-2025, which will positively impact 28 million fishers and aquaculturists and nearly double that number along fish-related value chains.

Focusing on the role of technology in achieving the vision, Dr L Murugan, Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy, said “Technology will convert wastelands into wetlands and thus to increase the production to achieve the objective”. , and also open up new avenues of investment in high-demand segments such as seaweed farming”.

To achieve the vision, the government provides fiscal support through several programs. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) has been established with a fund size of Rs. 7,522.48 crores for the establishment of fisheries infrastructure in the marine and inland fisheries sectors and l increased fish production. Additionally, the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) has been launched with an allocation of Rs. 20,050 crore, the highest investment ever for the fisheries sector. PMMSY will be implemented over 5 years from fiscal year 2020-21 to fiscal year 2024-25 in all states/union territories. In January 2022, proposals worth Rs 5,234 crore were sanctioned, reaching about 16 million beneficiaries.

The pursuit of growth In Maritime sector and important drivers

In the future, to continue the growth of the maritime sector and realize its full potential, “it is imperative to focus on the market trend, market demand for species, fishing practices, fishing time, infrastructure required, technological upgrade for current fishing vessels, safety and security of fishers in unlikely weather events, post-harvest protocols and testing facilities to maintain quality and enhance traceability,” said said Jatindra Nath Swain, Secretary – Fisheries, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy.

Another important driver for the growth of the sector will be to focus on value-added products, especially for the export market, and the private sector should play a key role in developing the right infrastructure in the right places.

The global fish processing market is segmented into frozen, canned, dried and others (smoked and surimi); frozen is the most commonly practiced type of fish processing. The industry believes that the sector has a lot of untapped potential and huge scope and opportunity to increase India’s share in the global export market.

Rajnikant Rai, Managing Director of Agri Businesses Division, ITC Limited, said that “ 74% of India’s exports are prawns; however, the share of value-added products is low at 7%. Thus, there is enormous scope for increasing value-added exports and, at the same time, increasing prices for fishermen. For this, India needs to focus on boosting seed quality and availability, smart farming and food safety standards.”

Arabind Das, Co-Chair of ICN’s National Fisheries, Livestock and Dairy Committee, said that “ICN, with its National Fisheries Committee, is committed to working with government and various agencies to realize the vision set for the sector; and will work to position India as an investment destination and a leader in marine product exports.

The opening session was followed by a series of technical sessions focusing on progress in post-harvest infrastructure and processing; Institutional financing and credit; the role of technologies and innovations in improving production and productivity; and Unlocking value through value addition, standards, branding and marketing.

The sessions brought together representatives of key central government agencies, including the NFDB and MPEDA, state governments and industry, focusing on identifying key enablers needed to strengthen the fisheries and agriculture sector. aquaculture and open a roadmap with actions that must be implemented to make India a hub of investment in aquaculture and fisheries.

Addressing the session on infrastructure and post-harvest handling, Dr J Balaji, Joint Secretary (Marine Fisheries), Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Industry, said that “Government plans to infuse investment of 15,000 crore by 2025 in fisheries and aquaculture infrastructure including development of fishing ports and landing centers; however, much more investment are needed given India’s vast coastline.” He also mentioned that the government is considering diversification of products and species such as tilapia.

Addressing the session on Institutional Financing and Credit to the Fisheries Sector, Sagar Mehra, Joint Secretary (Inland Fisheries), Department of Fisheries, Livestock and Dairy Industry, said that “ private investment under FIDF should be increased as well as saturation of all beneficiaries with KCC facility by involving state fisheries departments, banks, SLBCs etc. to facilitate access to the institutional credit and achieve PMMSY’s ambitious goals”.

Towards access to finance, Dr. P. Selvaraj, Chief General Manager, Strategic Planning and Product Innovation Department (SPPID), NABARD said, “NABARD has assessed a credit potential of Rs 19 732 crore pan India through its Linked Potential Plans (PLP), and provides fiscal support through the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF), etc. . He also mentioned that grouping fishermen into clusters or FPOs is crucial to facilitate access to finance as it makes projects more bankable for lending authorities.

While the enablers of post-harvest infrastructure, access to finance and technology, capacity building programs, etc. will strengthen supply, emphasis must also be placed on value-added products with strict quality standards and a dedicated push for branding and marketing initiatives towards stimulating demand.

Addressing the session on Unlocking Value – Value Adding, Standards, Branding and Marketing, Mr. KS Srinivas, President of MPEDA said, “There are three ways to unlock value through exports – through diversification some products; improving quality and attracting premium prices; and increasing the share of value-added products. In terms of value addition, while India has the necessary processing facilities, the shortage of raw materials during lean seasons needs to be addressed.”

The day’s discussions reaffirmed that India has the potential to become a world leader in fisheries and aquaculture. While the government has taken significant steps in the form of programs and funds to boost the sector; it is essential to use these reforms strategically to realize the full potential and reap the benefits as intended.