By A Staff Reporter
IMPHAL | Oct 20
Deputy chief minister, Yumnam Joykumar said the budget reserved for fisheries is not adequate to meet the needs of the state, and therefore urged the people to tap Central government schemes to augment the investment in this vital sector. He said the government would extend all help in this effort.
He said this while addressing this year’s Ningol Chakouba Fish Fair cum Fish Crop Competition, 2017, organised by the Fisheries Department today at Hapta Kangjeibung.
For a great majority of the people of the state fish is an important protein food item, he said, appreciating the Fisheries Department and private fish farmers for organising the mela, and making fish available at affordable prices.
He also praised the commendable effort to make rare indigenous fishes available for Ningol Chakouba buyers.
He also spoke with concern about the unseasonal rain the state received this year. This change in ecological balance will affect production of fish and called on people to be cautious.
One of the challenges in promoting and developing fisheries is to ensure water availability throughout the year, and this can be done by effective rain harvesting techniques, he said. The Fisheries Department must think of ways to help the people in meeting this challenge too, he added.
If in the dry season the state is faced with scarcity of water, during the monsoon it is flooding that become the menace. In the face of increase in flood problems in recent years, the government is working out a plan to to create water bodies at Lamphel to act as reservoirs that can absorb the flood waters. This will have a double purpose and these water bodies can be leased out to fishermen so they can farm fish.
Joykumar said, the Fisheries Department should take necessary steps to conserve the indigenous fishes which are getting endangered. These include fish species like Pengba, Ngaton, Ngatin and others, he said.
The need is to preserve their natural habitats properly, he said. Streams have to be developed properly as fish culture can be done along them, especially in the hilly areas, he added.
On fund allocation, Joykumar said the state will try to re-appropriate fisheries budget to meet the expenditures so that scheme can be successfully implemented. He said as the state has limited resources, people should approach the Centre and also the North Eastern Council (NEC) with viable projects to get necessary loans and grants. He assured to extend help in their effort to get financial support from Ministry of Agriculture and NEC to develop fisheries in the State.
Commissioner (Fisheries) Thaithuilung Panmei who also spoke said with the effort of fish farmers the production of fish has been increasing gradually. The department is planning to develop fisheries to make to even have a surplus to be exported to neighbouring states thus help the state economy.
Director of Fisheries, David K. Shimray in his turn said the mela and competition are organised in order to encourage the fish farmers. The state has an annual production of 32,000 metric tonnes of fish but the total requirement of fish is 42,000 metric tonnes and the state is getting the deficit tonnage of 10,000 metric tonnes from other fish farming states, he added.
Shimray said to mend the supply gap fish production will have to increase, and for this various projects are being implemented under NEC and National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB). Eight schemes have been implemented to increase fish crop production already he added.
He further said for welfare of fish farmers,120 fish farmers have been given homes under National Welfare Fund for Fisherman (NWFF) and in the current fiscal year, 180 more fish farmers will be given homes under the same fund.
Life Insurance cover of fish farmers has also been introduced and as of now 12,500 fish farmers have been enrolled, he said. NEC has sanctioned a total of Rs. 3.2 crores for the development of fisheries in the hills, he added.
He said training and technical knowledge should be encouraged and department has approached NEC to convert the state fisheries training centre up to the level of regional fisheries training centre and NEC has accepted the proposal and soon it can be implemented.
Shimray said a total of 85,000 kilograms of fish are expected to be brought to the fair-cum-competition. Cash awards of Rs. 1 lakh to the highest producer of fish, and Rs.75,000 and Rs.50,000 respectively will be given away to the second and third highest producers of fish crop in the competition.
Another award of Rs. 20,000 will be given to the highest producer of indigenous fishes, he added.
In all 60 fish stalls from different districts and fish farms have been opened and varieties of fishes such as Catla, Rohu, Mrigal, Common Carp, Grass Carp, Silver Carp, Pengba/Khabak and Ngaton were sold at the fair.
Thousands of people thronged the mela to buy fishes for Ningol Chakouba tomorrow.