Infrastructure Deficit in Aquaculture Sector

Infrastructure Deficit in Aquaculture Sector

By Aditya Dash

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus __
Martin Luther King

Using diesel is expensive. Especially in aquaculture where the Government subsidises electricity rates for agriculture use. However, these subsidised rates are of no use when you don’t have electricity connectivity to begin with. Shrimp aquaculture’s productivity is limited due to diesel usage. The prohibitive costs of using diesel is like a hidden tax on shrimp production. India imports most of its fossil fuels, so increasing the consumption simply contributes towards our trade deficit. Diesel, as opposed to power from hydroelectric stations, has a much bigger carbon footprint. So, it is obvious, we need to reduce diesel use and increase electricity use. By doing so, we enhance profits for farmers, increase jobs across the value chain through increased production, contribute towards a trade surplus and finally do a small bit towards tackling climate change. Simply writing an article, sharing it on Twitter and LinkedIn won’t really bring about this change. For that action plan, read on dear readers.

We need to publish an aquaculture infrastructure report and rankings, where we rank all the coastal States based on electricity access, road connectivity, presence of hatcheries and ports with reefer cargo facilities. This report needs to be created and published by organisations such as Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC). We can also include Feed Manufacturing Association, All-India Shrimp Hatchery Association and Farmers’ Associations.

This report will act like a report card and it is hoped that it will contribute towards filling the much-needed infrastructure deficit that exists in this sector. The report should be released in a well-publicised press conference. Apart from that, simply publishing this report will not do. Nodal organisations such as MPEDA and SEAI can host monthly coordination meetings with various State Government departments to review and monitor the progress.

The solution listed above has a greater chance of working out. It is not only about creating awareness but any pragmatic solution needs that essential element of follow-up. This is where the monthly meetings come handy. By holding such meetings with various departments, we would enable greater coordination and collaboration within various Government departments. Not that it doesn’t happen anyways, but our monthly meetings will simply make things move faster.

This is an important sector and by addressing the infrastructure deficits on a war footing, we ensure that this sector remains competitive on a global scale. Focusing on the infrastructure deficits of a sector is one of the most equitable ways of promoting the growth of a sector. Allegations of crony capitalism will be muted, since good connectivity and other infrastructure benefits improve the well-being of all industry players regardless of their size.

__ The author is an “Authority Member” of Marine Products Export Development Authority. He is also Managing Director of Ram’s Assorted Cold Storage Ltd, the seafood exports division of Suryo Group. He is passionate about aquaculture and writes frequently on it.

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