Budget 2024: Holy mackerel! Construction of 5 mega water parks, strengthening of PM Matsya Sampada Yojana to boost fisheries sector.

The inclusion of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMSSY) in the budget announcement boosted both the seafood and fisheries sectors, which boosted production.

The construction of five mega integrated water parks would extend a new dimension to the industry by improving product quality, improvised cold chains, increasing product versatility and rewarding recreational use. Kerala, a state with huge potential in the field of fisheries and aquaculture, can play an important role in realizing the government’s dreams of fisheries and aquaculture development, said Kerala University of Fisheries and Oceanography (Kufos) Vice Chancellor T Pradeepkumar.

G Pawan Kumar, National President, Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), told Business Line that the government’s focus on the sector is a welcome move, especially as exports recorded a movement of ₹ 65,000 crore in the last fiscal. As there are enough production capacities at present, there is no need for further investments in the aquaculture sector.

The need of the hour

The need of the hour, however, is to declare aquaculture as an agricultural product and extend income tax to farmers like their counterparts in the agricultural sector. Currently they are not receiving benefits. Extending income tax incentives would greatly support aquaculture farmers and help attract more investment in the sector and legalize the entire farming process, thereby increasing production.

Marine Products Exports Development Authority (Mpeda) President DV Swamy said that in 2022-2023, India exported 17,35,286 tons of seafood worth $8.09 billion (€63,969). However, due to global uncertainty, ongoing war etc., India’s fish exports grew quietly in the first quarter. But exports have now started increasing and we are confident that India will be able to meet the export target set by the government with increasing aquaculture raw materials, especially through various PMMSY schemes.

T. Pradeepkumar said that India is considered as the most important aquaculture center of the world along with China. The budget highlights the government’s interest in preserving the spirit of this “sunrise sector” by announcing the second phase of PMMSY. The budget will do its best to improve and transform India from a carp hub to a place with more diversified aquaculture programs to double the income of aquaculture players. “If farmers are Annadata, aquaculture farmers are mamsyadata (protein) and ensuring their welfare is equally important”

According to fisheries expert Sunil Mohammed, an integrated approach to the promotion of coastal aquaculture and mariculture would help increase fish production and ensure the livelihood of the fishing community. This would help fish production to reach world markets. In addition, newly reformed Coastal Aquaculture Authority laws will help achieve the goals. The establishment of integrated water parks would be the right direction if it covered the entire value chain from production to consumption with global standards.

Rajamanohar Somasundaram, Founder and CEO, Aquaconnect, said, “We welcome the new PMMSY sub-scheme announced with an investment of ₹ 6,000 crore to support fishmongers, fishermen and micro and small enterprises. The investment is aimed at improving value chain efficiency and market expansion , which will contribute significantly for domestic consumption.Establishment of water parks will play an important role in promoting the development of additional seafood in India.This will ultimately improve India’s value creation from seafood and act as a catalyst for creating employment opportunities among coastal communities.We have witnessed consistent efforts to improve the fishing sector in successive budgets. This is an encouraging trend and we hope it will continue for the betterment of fishermen, aquaculture and other stakeholders in the seafood value chain.

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