OST Business Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 9
Rising per-capita incomes, urbanisation, besides depletion and over-exploitation of fish stocks in the country have pushed the wholesale prices of fish in India to a staggering 131 percent in the last five years, a sector-specific analysis of fish prices conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has said.
Besides, factors like fall in fish catch due to water pollution, absence of organized retail in fish trade, the traditional distribution system, post-harvest losses and rising operating costs due to fuel price hike have resulted in high wastage and spoilage of fisheries resources, it said. The growth of fish production has declined from about seven per cent in 2008-09 to just about 3.5 per cent during 2012-13, said DS Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the Chamber’s analysis today.
“Growing urbanization and advent of supermarkets has led to growth in fish consumption across India, but lack of poor post-harvesting equipment, inadequate food processing technology and storage facilities have hit the fishing industry hard,” he pointed out.
It is worthwhile here to mention that India accounts for nearly six per cent of global fish production of about 180 million tonnes.
To tide over the crisis, ASSOCHAM has suggested developing technology for value addition and infrastructure for fish production based on the public private partnership (PPP) model.
There is also the need to modernize fish markets across the country by setting up refrigerated storage facilities together with transport and handling/logistics support in the marketing centres, it said.
Besides, proper awareness and training about usage of latest technology must be imparted to fishermen so that they are able to commercially exploit fishery resources for domestic and export markets.
The analysis has also suggested more investments in value added fish and marine products in ready-to-eat and ready-to-serve categories as the growing domestic market offers opportunity for such products in the fast growing retail sector.
ASSOCHAM has also called for an integrated approach for conservation and development of India’s marine resources and judicious exploitation of marine resources to protect the flora and fauna of the marine world.