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Aqua farmers face problem of plenty

By M. Rajeev



A fish pond at Kaikalur of Krishna district.

KAIKALURU, OCT. 12. Is aquaculture in the district facing a setback due to natural calamities or is it just a "problem of plenty"?

The innovative measures adopted by the aqua farmers in and around the Kolleru lake resulting in a record production of various kinds of fish may turn out to be a bane for them, according to the Deputy Director-General of Indian Council for Agricultural Research, S. Ayyappan. "The farmers concentrated on quantity till now. They should work on producing quality fish to meet the market requirements from now on," Mr. Ayyappan who was here in connection with the first anniversary of "Jayanti Rohu", a genetically improved variety of fish, said.

Beats national mark

While the national average of fish production was pegged around two tonnes per hectare of area, the production in Kolleru crossed eight-lakh-tonne-per-hectare-mark. This was made possible because of the good seed and feed used by the farmers, the market intelligence and the chain of cold storage links the State had. "An astounding Rs. 3,000 crores worth business is generated from an area of less than 200 sq. km," he said.

Woes too..

Participating in an interactive session on Monday, the farmers brought to the notice of ICAR authorities, issues like assured water allocation to aquaculture and uninterrupted power supply during night.

The farmers were concerned that the Government, that was earning revenues in excess of Rs. 350 crores every year through aquaculture, was not paying attention to their problems. "There is no assured water allocation for aquaculture though we pay a cess of Rs. 500 per acre every year," the farmers complained.

Where are the ads?

The session also witnessed a debate on the initiatives to "change people's food habits." "At a time when a majority of people are turning to vegetarianism where is the publicity for aqua products?" the farmers wondered.

Unlike the aqua sector that had "not merited attention," they cited the Government's initiatives in promoting the consumption of eggs through the National Egg Coordination Committee.

"There is a lot of publicity about eggs. But one should remember that doctors advise people against consuming eggs and instead, recommend fish. But, it is not being promoted properly," they said.

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