Agri Business

‘Special seaweed park to be launched in TN on Nov 3’

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on October 09, 2021

It will provide opportunities to women SHGs of fisher community: Murugan

A multi-purpose special economic zone for seaweed park will come up in Tamil Nadu as a pilot project to promote seaweed cultivation in the country. The foundation stone for it will be laid on November 3, said L Murugan, Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, on Friday.

Provisions have been made in the Budget for the park, which will provide opportunities to women self-help groups (SHGs) belonging to the fishermen community, said the Minister during an interaction with the editors of The Hindu Group.

“Seaweed is used in organic urea and medicines. In Japan, it is used in dishes,” he said.

The Centre has come up with the seaweed park proposal, as it is an emerging sector with the potential to transform the life of coastal communities and provide employment besides additional income.

The Centre has proposed to provide benefits to fishermen under the Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) based on their capacity. “We are getting the standard operating procedures (SOPs) ready,” he said.

Fishing harbours

The Union government plans to double marine food exports to five lakh tonnes over the next few years and, towards this, it will modernise five fishing harbours matching global standards. “Provisions had been made in the Budget for this. The ports will have facilities for export and cold storage,” said Murugan.

Stating that the Centre aims to double fishermen income under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, the Minister said an allocation of ₹20,000 crore has been made to encourage fishermen to turn entrepreneurs.

Referring to the Rashtriya Gokul Mission, launched for the development and conservation of indigenous cattle breed, Murugan said the Centre was keen on modernising the animal husbandry sector and controlling diseases. “Recently, the Cabinet has approved one lakh mobile veterinary clinics that will be provided to the States free of cost,” he said. To a question on the reluctance on the part of cattle owners to vaccinate their herds against foot-and-mouth disease, he said the Centre would launch a campaign to spread awareness on vaccinating the cattle.

Dairy products

KCC is being extended to dairy farmers, too, and the Centre would extend all help to promote dairy products and exports. “We want dairy products to be exported and stop imports. We need to achieve self-sufficiency,” said Murugan. To a question on the deep-sea fishing scheme that has made tardy progress, he said the scheme would be included as part of an “overall big scheme”.

On the fishermen’s grievance that the cost of tuna longline vessel under the scheme being fixed at ₹80 lakh was lower than the vessel’s actual cost, Murugan said it would be revised. “We asked the Cochin Shipyard to review the cost. It has fixed the cost of the vessel at ₹1.3 crore,” he said.

The changed cost was being considered and is awaiting technical approval, said the Minister. The reason for the fishermen’s grievance is that the Centre provides 50 per cent subsidy to SHGs and Fishers Producer Organisations to build the longline vessels. Fixing a low cost for it means they have to pay more from their pockets.

On the animal husbandry sector seeking cultivation of genetically-modified crops to meet the increasing demand, Murugan said he would go through the industry’s demands. The Minister said opposition to the Indian Marine Fishermen Bill, 2021, passed by Parliament during the monsoon session, was “politically motivated”. The Bill had diluted some of the penal provisions against fishermen in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, he said.

“It (bill) does not affect any fishermen. States can act against any foreign intrusion only up to 12 nautical miles. After that, they cannot take any action. Under the new law, intruding vessels can be detained and fined up to ₹40 lakh,” he said.

Farm laws

On protests against the farm laws by farmer associations and Opposition parties, Murugan said they were confined only to Punjab, parts of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. “Have farmers in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka or Madhya Pradesh protested? Vested interests are behind these protests,” he said.

The Minister said the Food Corporation of India would continue to procure under the minimum support price programme.

Published on October 08, 2021

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