India’s ‘blue revolution” needs port infrastructure rethink

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

It is hoped the new fisheries programme will help stabilise the livelihoods of fishermen
It is hoped the new fisheries programme will help stabilise the livelihoods of fishermen

Related tags Fish

Showing a renewed focus on the fisheries sector, India’s government is preparing to launch its “blue revolution” programme as a means to revitalise the industry. 

A package of measures to boost seafood productivity, the blue revolution follows on the heels of the successful so-called “green revolution​”, and has the potential to make rapid changes to the marine industry, according to DS Rawat, the general secretary of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (Assocham).

Beyond productivity, the programme is also expected to improve breeding and feeding practices, as well as improve human resource training. This focus on aquaculture is also timely, as the country is currently struggling with inflation in the cost of protein-rich food items. 

Period of significant growth

India now has the world’s second biggest fisheries industry, behind China, and produces over 9m tonnes of fishery-based resources annually. 

Exports from the fisheries sector reached an all-time high of US$5bn in 2013-14, illustrating its high potential in contributing to India’s trade economy. The sector contributes close to 1% of India’s GDP and around 4.6% to the agricultural GDP, and also employs nearly 14m people. 

As the government puts the finishing touches to its blue revolution, Assocham has called for the framework to address infrastructure bottlenecks by including plans to upgrade fishing harbours, integrate processing clusters for exports and the implementation of a countrywide domestic fish marketing infrastructure. 

In tandem with this, it is urging the government to update its food safety protocols to meet global standards to reduce the amount of seafood that cannot be exported because of wastage. This, Assocham says, will give fishermen a more stable livelihood, while giving workers better access to training would create better opportunities of employment.

Scientists need to play their part

To increase per-export yields, Assocham recommends an overhaul of the processing industry and more emphasis on science.

More domestically-cultured species need to be introduced at regular intervals by the scientific community to benefit farmers and provide momentum to the aquaculture sector in India​,” it said.

The introduction of the new exotic shrimp variety, Lvannamei, has brought new dynamism to the fish processing industry. Frozen shrimp contributes to more than 64% of total Indian marine export earnings.

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