It is crucial to have an integrated chain of activities when organising fish farmers, especially those who are poor, said NN Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development at the first conference on fishtech, organised by the industry chamber FICCI.  

Sinha alluded to the need to develop an integrated structure akin to the dairy sector. “There is a lot of scope for developing such a value chain,” he said. 

The secretary also referred to growing seaweed, ornamental fishing, and cage culture as viable livelihood activities. “We think aquaculture is an important livelihood option for a large number of people and we will work with everyone in the sector,” Sinha added.  

‘Need special funds’

Hemendra Mathur, Chairman, FICCI-Taskforce on Agri-Startups, said, “We need a dedicated fund for the fisheries sector which can help early-stage start-ups trying to build interesting models and features.”

He said that fishery is an important sector with over 1.5 crore fishermen engaged in its activity and its contribution to GDP being more than $30 billion.

Noting the considerable headroom for growth, Mathur emphasised the need to develop an innovation ecosystem in fishtech along the lines of agriculture. He also stressed the need to create an integrated supply chain and incorporate technology to bring efficiency.

Mathur added, “We should at least have 500 fishtech start-ups in the country, given the sector’s potential. All start-ups put together account for less than 2-3 per cent of the market potential. That is a small number in the context of the opportunity ahead of us. I think fishtech has a lot to catch up to when compared to agritech.”

‘Use more technology’

Shashi Kant Singh, Executive Director, Agri & Natural Resources, PWC, also noted the potential of increasing the use of technology and the headroom available to increase the production, exports, and domestic consumption in the fishery sector.

He added that a lot of “policy support”, “ecosystem support”, and “well-designed schemes” were introduced by the government during the last four to five years.

However, “we do see a lot of opportunity in improving the quality of the produce,” Singh said. “If the blue economy story has to be a success in India, then fishery is going to be one of the key segments, among others.”

Devleena Bhattacharjee, Chair, FICCI Committee on Fishtech and Founder & CEO, Numer8 Analytics, said, “India is the second largest fish producing country and contributes to about 7.56 per cent of the global fish production.” She pointed out that it is a sunrise sector owing to tremendous scope in domestic consumption and expansion, strong export potential, and greater economic returns with strong policy support.  

New report released

During the conference, a FICCI PwC report titled ‘Championing the blue economy: Promoting sustainable growth of fisheries sector in India’ was released. The report showcases the potential of India’s fisheries sector, trends, opportunities, challenges, and strategic interventions needed to support the blue economy in India, and build a sustainable and profitable future for the industry.