Aug 29, 2018
West Bengal has produced close to 17.4 lakh tonnes of fresh and brackish water fish in FY–18 and in 2018-9 it is expecting close to 6 per cent growth in fish production, at 18.5 lakh tonnes. The State exported close to 1.7 lakh tonnes of fish to others states and overseas in 2017-18. Of this, export of shrimp accounted for nearly 70,000 tonnes, estimated at around Rs.8,000 crore.
According to Chandra Nath Sinha, State Fisheries Minister, there is a demand-supply mismatch of around 0.6 lakh tonnes in West Bengal, which is currently being met by imports from other States, such as Andhra Pradesh. Categorically the growth in production this year might help counterbalance the shortfall to some extent. However, this may not be enough to bridge the gap totally as demand is also growing steadily.
West Bengal government is concentrating to maximize production of fish through intervention of technologies, adding more water bodies under aqua farming and promoting scientific feeding and improved managerial practices to improve production, he said.
Rajarshi Banerji, president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India told that West Bengal has close to four lakh hectares of brackish water acreage, as compared to only about 1.5 lakh hectares in Andhra Pradesh. But Andhra Pradesh has been able to cultivate close to 3.5 lakh tonnes of shrimp on nearly 1.3 lakh hectare of brackish water acreage, while Bengal has managed to produce only around 60,000 tonnes, utilising about 60,000-70,000 hectares or about 15 per cent of the total area so far.
The fishery industry in West Bengal is hindered by small land holdings, high electricity tariffs and expensive lease-rent structures. These push up the total cost of production by nearly Rs.60 a kg to Rs.240 a kg in Bengal, as compared to Rs.180 a kg in Andhra. Another factor of interruption in fishery market is that any fall in price of shrimp in international markets squeezes the margins of cultivators and exporters from Bengal, who are already reeling under the pressure of the high cost of production.