West Bengal can achieve around 1.2 lakh tonnes of fisheries’ exports worth over $1 billion by 2020, as such the state should strive to maintain year-on-year (Y-o-Y) of about 10 per cent in terms of quantity which can translate to about 20 per cent in value terms, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said .
“Inland water resources, which at present is grossly underexploited holds rich potential in increasing total fish production in West Bengal at over 31 lakh tonnes, besides once raw material supply increases, processing and value addition is bound to follow,” according to a just-concluded ASSOCHAM study titled ‘Fisheries in India: Potential & Prospects.’
“Proactive government policies in fisheries sector and technologically equipped processing industries with appropriate certification to meet exacting standards of foreign buyers in terms of quality and overall processing facilities as laid down under food safety standards across the globe showcase long-term fisheries export potential from West Bengal,” noted the study prepared by Agri-business and food processing division of ASSOCHAM.
Terming the state of fish production in West Bengal as ‘near stagnation,’ the ASSOCHAM study has highlighted the pressing need to look into all aspects of production and related infrastructure to quickly raise fisheries production in the state.
“There is a need for a proper roadmap both for targeted production increase to meet domestic needs and direction for diversification of export basket and volume growth from the state,” said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the findings of the chamber’s study.
Focus on quality and timeliness together with diversification, marine fisheries, linking with foreign buyers, establishing contracts with middlemen and brokers, participation in trade fairs, investment in brand building, utilising opportunities in waste processing, providing product certifications, carrying out proper research and development are certain key suggestions listed in the ASSOCHAM study focus on which can help perk up the fisheries sector in West Bengal and across rest of coastal India.
Urging the union government to double the outlay of Rs 3,000 crore for development and management of fisheries sector, ASSOCHAM study has said that India could achieve about 16 million metric tonnes (MMT) of inland and marine fisheries’ production by 2019-20 thereby adopting a target oriented approach to achieve eight per cent growth year-on-year.
“Aided by government’s efforts to bring systemic changes in processing sector, the domestic segment in raw and processed fisheries sector in value terms is expected to touch Rs 1.5 lakh crore by 2020 and total domestic retail market is forecast to cross Rs 61 lakh crore or almost triple in next 4-5 years,” noted the study.
“Thus coupled with exports, fisheries sector in India should aim at a target of Rs two lakh crore by 2020 in value terms,” it added.
“Both direct and indirect employment in entire fisheries sector in India is likely to reach 15.25 million from an estimated 14 million in 2014-15,” said Mr Rawat.
“However, most of the incremental fish production will have to come from aquaculture and ‘Blue Revolution’ will provide necessary impetus in this direction,” he added.
“Achievement of ambitious targets in increasing fish production is possible only through harnessing potential in aquaculture,” further said Mr Rawat.
The study further noted that since India is endowed with over 8,000 kilometres (kms) long coastline, exclusive economic zone of over two million square kms of continental shelf, there is scope to increase marine catch, which has turned sluggish lately.
Global fish production is likely to grow by about 1.5 per cent during 2015-2020 and reach a total of about 183 MT (million tonnes), while with value added/downstream products the trade in this sector could cross $200 billion by 2025, this despite the sluggish growth in exports, highlighted the ASSOCHAM study.
“Marine/capture fisheries is set to hover around 93 MT and aquaculture production (89 MT) could overtake by 2021-22,” it said.