Promoting Blue Revolution in J&K

Dr. Banarsi Lal, Dr. Vikas Tandon
India possesses 2.4 per cent of the global land area and sustains 17.74 per cent of the world population. In India fish farming is a flourishing sector and a very important economic activity. This sector engages over 14.50 million people at the primary level. This sector transformed from traditional to commercial scale and has led to 17- fold increase in just six decades i.e. from 7.5 lakh tonne in 1950- 51 to 125.90 lakh tonne during 2018-19. This sector registered an overall annual growth rate of about 4 per cent. This sector has contributed around 1.1 per cent to the National Gross Domestic Production (GDP) and 5.15 per cent to the agricultural GDP. Besides meeting the national protein demand and livelihood, fisheries also earn foreign exchange to the tune of Rs.47, 620 crores in 2018-19. This justifies the importance of this sector on the country’s food, economy and livelihood security. India constitutes about 6.30 per cent of the global fish production and 5 per cent of global trade. India has attained the second largest fish producing and second largest aquaculture producing nation in the world. This sector has been named as the “Blue revolution”. Considering the limited scope of the capture fisheries from coastal waters and natural inland waters like rivers and estuaries, emphasis on aquaculture and culture based fisheries from reservoirs and floodplain wetlands has been given to mitigate the increasing requirement of fisheries. Major objectives of blue revolution is to fully tap the total fish potential of the country both in the inland and the marine sector and triple the production, to transform the fisheries sector as a modern industry with special focus on new technologies and processes, to enhance the income of the fishers and fish farmers with special focus on increasing productivity and better marketing, post-harvest infrastructure including e-commerce and other technologies and global best innovations. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries has accordingly restructured the scheme by merging all the ongoing schemes under an umbrella of Blue Revolution, to provide focused development and management of fisheries, covering inland fisheries, aquaculture and marine fisheries including deep sea fishing, mariculture and all activities undertaken by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).
Integrated fish farming is the combination of two or more separate farming systems where the waste from one subsystem is utilized for sustenance of the other. For example, fish-pig /poultry/ducks farming. The system provides considerable potential and scope for augmenting production and also offers an enormous scope for employment generation and rural economy. The country possesses significant water bodies both in Himalayan region and Western Ghats, which hold large populations of both indigenous and exotic cultivable and non-cultivable cold water fish species. Important food fishes in the region are Mahaseers and Schizothoracids among the indigenous species and Trouts among the exotic varieties. Increasing per capita fish availability from the present level of only 8 kg to 11 kg (as recommended by WHO) is the primary challenge before the country. Considering the scope of the capture fisheries from coastal waters and natural inland waters like rivers and estuaries, emphasis on aquaculture and culture based fisheries from reservoirs and floodplain wetlands should also be given to meet the targeted fish requirement. Research and development efforts in the last five decades have greatly improved average fish yields in the country making carp culture an important economic activity. Indian Major Carps (IMC) Rohu (Labeo rohito), Catla (Catla catla), Mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala) were the principal species cultured in ponds since ages. Species like Labeo calbasu, L. gonius, L. bata, Puntius pulchellus, P. sarana, P. bolus and Cirrhinus cirrhosa are considered to be important species due to their production potential, high market price and consumer preference. Catfishes have great commercial importance. Magur (Clarias batrachus) and Singhi (Hetero-pneustes fossils’) are the two air-breathing candidate species for culture. Several other non-air breathing catfishes like Mystus seenghala, Pungasiuspungasius, Wallago attu, Ompak pabda are also being cultured in view of the high consumer preference. The giant freshwater prawn, (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is the largest and fastest growing species among freshwater prawns. The development of hatchery technology for M. rosenbergii and later, for Indian river prawn, M. malcolmsonii has opened up new possibilities of freshwater aquaculture.
Fisheries is a growing sector in the Union Territory of J&K. This sector is considered as an emerging venture which possesses a potential to contribute immensely to the economy of J&K. This sector provides nutrients and is helpful in generating employment and income especially for the rural youths of J&K. The number of fishing license holders in J&K are increasing annually and many new farmers are coming forward for fish farming. There is a big gap between the demand and supply in fisheries sector in J&K. Fish is a valuable source of diet for the local people. Fisheries sector in J&K has made significant strides during the last decade. During the year 2018-19,J&K produced about 20.7 thousand metric tones of fish. The demand of fish in J&K is 1.5 lakh tones. In J&K about 93,000 people depend on fisheries for their livelihood. There is a lot of biodiversity in fisheries flora and fauna in J&K. Technical know-how and exposure visits for the fish farmers of J&K can create interest and passion towards this sector. There is need to increase production and productivity of fisheries in J&K so that the increasing demand of fisheries can be mitigated.
Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir serves a congenial habitat for a variety of fish species due to large number of cold water resources. J&K is blessed with the Rivers like the Chenab, Indus, Jhelum along with lakes like Dal lake, Wular lake, Manasbal lake and Mansar lake. In J&K the first batch of 10,000 eggs of trout arrived from the United Kingdom in the year 1899 but all of them perished. Department of Fisheries was created in 1903 in J&K to promote the fish farming. J&K produces more than 20.00 thousands tonnes of fish production because of adoption of modern aqua cultural practices. Kashmir region produces more than 80 per cent of the fish production and Jammu has also emerged as a major producer of animal protein. The fish production data of four decades reflects increasing trend of production in all commercially important species of both the provinces. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is known as the tourist destination due to its munificence of blossoms and magnanimity of resorts. This UT is holding huge water spread area of around 57000 hectares out of which about 24000 hectares are in the shape of lakes, marshy areas and reservoirs and 23000 hectares in the shape of river systems. Temperate and sub-tropical zones of J&K offer a potential resource for the development of cold and warm water fisheries including Trouts, Schizothoracines, Indian major carps and Chinese carps. In Jammu region Jammu district leads in fish production (approx.6657 qtls.) followed by Kathua (approx.4481 qtls.) and Udhampur (approx.4195 qtls.). In Kashmir region Baramulla district leads in fish production (approx.42770 qtls.). J&K has immense potential in fish farming. There is need to upgrade the technical knowledge of fish farmers and modern technologies on fish farming should be provided to them. Blue revolution can open new avenues of income and employment for the rural youths of J&K.