India's Assam State to Increase Seafood Production
Opening this week's second annual Assam Fish Festival, the state's Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi pointed out that Assam, with its statewide water assets, should be able to produce enough seafood for the state's consumption and have excess to export.
Gogoi suggested adopting technologies used in the states of Punjab and Haryana to improve Assam's seafood production, as well as its food production in general.
Responding to Gogoi, Nurjamal Sarkar, India's minister of fisheries, announced the department is creating a promotional campaign for seafood from Assam. Sarkar also took the opportunity during the Fish Festival to grant business loans worth U.S. $5,000 per hectare to local fish farmers.
Targeting self-sufficiency, India's Department of Fisheries has designated some 39,000 hectares for fish farming. More than 6,000 Assam fish farmers have been trained in the allocated area.
The decision to promote Assam's seafood industry comes at the same time as India's government has eliminated many export incentives. The Indian seafood industry retains an 8 percent credit from the total seafood export value under the government incentive.
In the past, Indian seafood industry representatives have approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek help with declining seafood exports, due to tightening competition with China, Thailand and Vietnam, all of which offer cheaper prices, and the depreciating U.S. dollar.
During the current fiscal year, running from April 1, 2006, to March 31, 2007, Indian seafood exports have dropped 25 percent in volume and 20 percent in value. The previous fiscal year, it reached an all-time high with exports worth U.S. $2.1 billion. Two million are employed by the country's seafood industry.