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Fish Farming through Women SHGs” Odisha Shows the Way

Bhubaneswar:11/10/19: People of Odisha love to consume locally produced and fresh fish (Carps) such as Rohu and Catla. Per capita consumption of fish in Odisha is about 15.62 Kg, which is significantly higher than national average of 9.30 kg. Odisha is endowed with vast area of water resources (6.79 lakh Hectares of freshwater resources, 4.18 lakh hectares of brackish water resources and 1.70 lakh sq. km of marine exclusive economic zone), and has great potential for fish production.

At the moment, Odisha has immense scope in freshwater fish as the demand is more than the supply. Annually it imports nearly 40,000 metric tons of carps from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to satisfy the local demand.

With an aim of increasing the fish production and export, an ambitious Odisha Fisheries Policy-2015 was introduced. The Fisheries and ARD Department has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with World Fish, Malaysia for technical collaboration to implement its Fisheries Policy, especially for the development of the inland fisheries sector. Different programmes and schemes have been introduced to achieve the objectives of the policy.

In Odisha, there are approximately 64,000 Gram Panchayat (GP) tanks (51,000 hectares), which are public property and governed by gram panchayats under the Department of Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water. These GP tanks are dug under various government schemes such as MGNREGS for multipurpose utility by villagers. Also, they are auctioned on an annual basis to different individuals for fish farming purposes and to generate income for the Gram Panchayats. However, some tanks are in derelict condition and underutilized for fish production. Sensing an opportunity, the government intensified its efforts to utilize these GP  tanks for increased fish productivity from present 2.3 ton/ha/year to 5 ton/ha/year and thus to boost overall fish production of the state.

There are around 6 lakh Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) with a membership of more than 70 lakh women registered in each and every village of the state under Mission Shakti- the flagship self-help group movement of the Government of Odisha.

These SHGs are involved in various types of income-generating activities such as handicrafts, textiles, honey production, food supply to ICDS and schools, etc. The government has identified fish farming as one of the potential business activity for the WSHGs. Therefore, an inter-departmental convergence program involving departments of Fisheries & ARD, WCD & Mission Shakti, Panchayati Raj & DW with technical support from WorldFish was mooted and a flagship scheme named “Fish Farming in Gram Panchayat Tanks by Women SHGs” was launched during September 2018. To encourage the WSHGs to actively enroll in the scheme, an important policy change was brought in by the Government for long term leasing (3-5 years lease) of GP tanks to Women SHGs on a priority basis.

The scheme provided financial support @ Rs. 90,000 per hectare to WSHGs, which makes 60% of the operational expenses (unit cost of Rs. 1.5 lakhs/ha/crop) towards the fish production. Two-crop system per year by the promotion of stocking of zero size fish fingerlings (50-100 gram size) was highlighted for doubling the productivity of GP tanks. The target production is 2.5 tons / ha / crop of 6 months or 5 tons / ha / year.

As a first step, a State-level Convergence Conference was conducted in Bhubaneswar on 27 September 2018 to brief the senior officials (state and district level officers of 3 convergence departments) regarding the scheme and its modalities of implementation. A total of 210 officers participated in the event.

District level training of trainers (ToTs) were conducted in all 30 districts of Odisha from December 2018 to March 2019. In total, 1596 master trainers were trained in the scheme. These master trainers are none other than Assistant Fisheries Officers (AFO), Junior and Senior Technical Officers of Fisheries & ARD Department and Block and District Project Coordinators (BPC) of Mission Shakti.

The Programme is regularly reviewed at Fisheries & ARD Department and Mission Shakti attended by the Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Commissioner-cum-Director Mission Shakti and senior officers from F&ARD Department, Directorate of Fisheries, Mission Shakti Directorate and World Fish. Monthly Video Conference for review of the field progress made on the scheme is also organized in WCD& Mission Shakti Department of Secretariat and officers of Directorate of Fisheries and Mission Shakti participate in this.

This initiative will be a game-changer in generating sustainable income for rural women, improving nutritional outcomes and increase fish productivity in the State.

About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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