Fisheries and aquaculture is an important sector for food production in the country. The sector provides nutritional security to nation's food basket, contributes to agro exports and provides employment to 14 million people. Indian fisheries and aquaculture contributes to 6.3 per cent of the global fish production, 1.1 per cent of the GDP and 5.15 per cent of the agriculture GDP. Seafood exports from India have increased by five times during the past 15 years to touch $6.5 billion, making India the fourth largest global seafood exporter.
However, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Union budget has completely ignored fisheries and aquaculture sector, proposing incentives and investments only for agriculture. This is highly disappointing for the Indian fisheries industry.
The Centre should note that aquaculture face challenges similar to agriculture - be it the climate, quantity and quality of harvest or price, often determined by market forces.
In the budget, for agriculture, the Finance Minister has proposed schemes and benefits, such as bringing more land under farm irrigation plan, new crop insurance scheme, increased agriculture credit, increased spending on animal husbandry, cattle and livestock breeding and introduction of Krishi Kalyan Benefit tax, for the benefit of farmers. However, I do not think, farmers involved in aquaculture or fisheries, would be benefited in any way with the aforesaid schemes.
There has not been a mention of 'blue revolution' in this year's budget, a subject dear to Prime Minister Modi.
Today, fisheries or aquaculture do not enjoy benefits of agriculture, even though the sectors come under the purview of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF), which is a department in the Ministry of Agriculture. This needs to be corrected.