Indian Fisheries and Aquaculture sector is considered as a sunrise sector and is poised to play a significant role in the Indian economy in near future. India continues to retain its position as the second-largest fish producer in the world with a production of 14.16 million metric tonnes during 2019-20. Nonetheless, the country has untapped potential given its huge natural resources and has the capability to position India as a world leader.
Towards identifying the enablers for achieving the sector’s potential, the Confederation of Indian Industry in collaboration with the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, National Fisheries Development Board, and the Marine Products Export Development Authority organised the Conference on Fisheries & Aquaculture with the aim of “Showcasing India as a hub for Aquaculture and fisheries Investment” on January 21, 2022.
The sector has shown impressive growth with fish production registering an average annual growth of 7.53% during last 5 years. Besides the domestic market, fisheries and aquaculture sectors contribute greatly to India’s export earnings as well. The country exported 12.89 lakh metric tons of fisheries products valued at Rs.46,662 crores (USD 6.68 billion) during 2019-20, largely mitigating the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing the opening session, Shri Parshottam Rupala, Hon’ble Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, congratulated CII for organising the timely event and mentioned that “ there is a need to focus on domestic market consumption along with exports, deploying more scientific methods of production”.
He emphasized that the industry should work along with the department and create a robust plan to ensure higher income for fishers and fish farmers, safe and nutritious food to the consumer and minimize food loss.
Realising the sector’s potential, the Government has committed to a national target to increase fish production to 22 million metric tons by 2024-2025, which will have a positive impact on 28 million fishers and fish farmers and almost twice that number along fish-related value chains.
Focusing on the role of technology to reach the vision, Dr L Murugan, Hon’ble Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said that ‘Technology will allow wastelands to be converted to wetlands and thus drive up production towards reaching the target, and also unlock new avenues of investment in high demand segments such as seaweed farming”.
Towards reaching the vision, the government is providing fiscal support through several schemes. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) has been set up with a fund size of Rs. 7,522.48 crore towards creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and inland fisheries sectors and augment the fish production. Further, the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) was launched with an allocation of Rs. 20,050 crore, the highest ever investment for fisheries sector. The PMMSY will be implemented over a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024- 25 in all States/Union Territories. As of January 2022, proposals worth Rs5,234 crore have been sanctioned, impacting around 16 million beneficiaries.
Going forward, to continue the growth in the marine sector and to achieve the full potential, “it is imperative to focus on market trend, market demand of species, fishing practices, fishing time, necessary infrastructure required, technology upgradation for current fishing vessels, safety and security of fishermen’s in the unlikely events of weather , post-harvest protocols and testing facility to maintain quality and build in traceability” said Mr Jatindra Nath Swain, Secretary - Fisheries, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
Another important driver in the sector growth story will involve focusing on value-added products, especially for the export market, and the private sector is expected to play a key role towards right infrastructure development at the right places.
The global fish processing market is segmented into frozen, preserved, dried and others (smoked and surimi); frozen is the most common fish processing type practiced. The industry believes, that the sector has a lot of untapped potential and a huge scope and opportunity to increase India’s share in the global export market.
Mr Rajnikant Rai, Chief Executive, Agri Businesses Division, ITC Limited, mentioned, that “ 74% of India’s export is shrimp; however the share of value added products is low at 7%. Thus, there is a huge scope to increase value added exports and in tandem increase price points for fishermen. Towards this, India must focus on strengthening seed quality and availability, smart farming and food safety standards”.
Mr Arabind Das, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, stated that “CII with its National Committee on Fisheries is committed to work along with the government and various agencies to achieve the vision setup for the sector; and will work towards positioning India as an investment destination and export leader for marine products.”
The Opening Session was followed by a series of technical sessions focusing on Advances in Post-Harvest Infrastructure and Processing; Institutional Finance and Credit; Role of technologies and innovations in enhancing production and productivity; and Unlocking value through Value Addition, Standards, Branding & Marketing.
The sessions had representation from key central government agencies including NFDB and MPEDA, state governments and industry, focusing on identifying the key enablers needed to strengthen the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector and pave a roadmap with actions that needs to be implemented to make India, a hub for Aquaculture and Fisheries Investment.
Addressing the session on Post-Harvest Infrastructure and Processing, Dr J Balaji, Joint Secretary (Marine Fisheries), Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, mentioned that “the Government envisages infusing an investment of 15000 Crores by 2025 in fisheries and aquaculture infrastructure including fishing harbours development and landing centres; however, a lot more investment is needed given India’s vast coastline”. He also mentioned that government is looking at product diversification and species such as tilapia.
Addressing the session on Institutional Finance and Credit to Fisheries Sector, Mr. Sagar Mehra, Joint Secretary (Inland Fisheries), Department of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, mentioned that "Private investment under FIDF need to be scaled up as well as saturation of all eligible beneficiaries with KCC facility by involving State Fisheries Departments, Banks, SLBCs etc. to facilitate access to institutional credit and achieve ambitious targets of PMMSY”.
Towards enabling access to finance, Dr. P. Selvaraj, Chief General Manager of Strategic Planning and Product Innovation Department (SPPID), NABARD, mentioned, “NABARD has assessed a potential for credit of Rs 19,732 crore pan India through its Potential Linked Plans (PLPs), and is providing fiscal support through the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF), etc.” He also mentioned that aggregating fishermen into clusters or FPOs is crucial for ease of access to finance as it makes the projects more bankable for lending authorities.
While the enablers of post-harvest infrastructure, access to finance and technology, capacity building programmes, etc will strengthen the supply side, the focus needs to also be on value-added products with strict quality standards and dedicated thrust on branding and marketing initiatives towards boosting demand.
Addressing the session on Unlocking value– Value Addition, Standards, Branding & Marketing, Mr K S Srinivas, Chairman, MPEDA, said “There are three ways to unlock value through exports— through product diversification; by improving quality and attracting premium pricing; and increasing share of value-added products. Towards value addition, while India has the requisite processing facilities, raw material shortage during the lean seasons need to be addressed”.
The discussions during the day reinstated the fact that India has the potential to be a world leader in fisheries and aquaculture. While the government has taken significant steps in the form of schemes and funds to boost the sector; it is critical to utilize these reforms in a strategic manner to realize the full potential and reap the benefits as intended.
21 January 2022