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West Bengal hopeful of surplus in fish production

Our Bureau

Kolkata , March 23

WEST Bengal is hopeful of closing the current fiscal with significant gains in production of milk, meat and eggs, even as it becomes the top State in pisciculture.

Official sources said that fish production in the State is expected to increase by nearly 10 per cent this year from 11.2 lakh tonnes in 2002-03 to 12.08 lakh tonnes, helping the State generate a surplus after meeting its internal requirement of 11.67 lakh tonnes.

"In pisciculture, the State Government's main objective has been to attain self-reliance," sources said, adding that to meet the demand of fish-loving Bengalis, the State had to `import' fish from the southern States.

To bridge the demand-supply gap, the fisheries department had, in co-ordination with the panchayats, launched an initiative to increase water areas, while imparting training on improved pisciculture to the fishermen, sources said.

For increasing milk production, emphasis was placed on improving the quality of animal stock. This was done through a specific programme, which involved artificial insemination. This step is expected to boost milk production from 36 lakh tonnes to 37.05 lakh tonnes in the current fiscal.

Output of eggs is expected to increase in the same manner through rearing of improved variety of poultry stock and establishment of improved hatcheries. West Bengal's egg production is estimated at 282 crore pieces in 2003-04 against 275 crore in 2002-03.

The policy of improving the quality of livestock has also helped the State augment its meat production, which has been further enhanced through the setting up of family-based projects.

State Government sources said that besides helping the State meet its own requirement in respect of most agriculture and allied sectors' items, a spin-off effect has been felt in the employment scene too with additional employment generation through improved pisciculture and livestock production.

However, availability of institutional credit remains a problem. Sources said that against a projected credit disbursement of Rs 1,000 crore by commercial banks in 2003-04, not more than Rs 750 crore is expected to be available.

"Credit-deposit ratio in West Bengal is only 44 per cent with the figure being only about 25 per cent in the districts," sources said.

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