Fish has again found a prime spot for itself in yet another Indian Budget. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget 2020 speech has again given the fishery sector a new boost with the hope“Our govt will involve youth in fishery sector. We hope the rural youth will work as Sagar Mitras and also form Fish Farmer Organisation,” she said. Fish production is to be raised to 200 lakh tonnes by the year 2022.
“We have provided for 11 crore farmers through PM Kisan Beema Yojana. Provision of annual assistance to the farmer is made sure through PM Kisan yojana. Agricultural markets need to be opened and liberalised. Fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy needs to be provided for,” Sitharaman said. The Government has also proposed conservation of marine fishery.
This is not the first time when fish has had its moment in the limelight in the union budget. And there are reasons for it. In the Union Budget 2019-20, the Finance Minister had proposed a new Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana scheme to promote processing in fishery sector. For the same, the Union Budget allocated around Rs 3,737 crore for the new Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. “Fishing and fishermen communities are closely aligned with farming and are crucial to rural India, the Finance Minister had clarified at the time. It was also confirmed that the new scheme was to be established under the Department of Fisheries to better manage the fisheries framework in the country.
This came after the Economic Survey 2018-19 called for greater focus on dairy, fisheries and poultry to boost the rural economy.
The year before that, in the Union Budget 2018-19, the then Finance Minister Late Arun Jaitley had extended the Kisan Credit Card to farmers engaged in fisheries, aquaculture and animal husbandry. The budget had also allocated Rs 10,000 crore to develop the fisheries sector in the country.
It can be safely said that the fishing sector has received a significant boost since the Union Budget 2017, which had only allocated Rs 401 crore for the Blue Revolution, compared with Rs 13,000 crore for the Green Revolution and Rs 1,600 crore for the White Revolution.
The National Fisheries Development Board data perhaps highlights the importance of fisheries in India. The fisheries sector gives gainful employment to as many as 14 million people in the country. “The total fish production during 2017-18 is estimated to be 12.60 million metric tonnes, of which nearly 65% is from inland sector and about 50% of the total production is from culture fisheries, and constitutes about 6.3% of the global fish production,” they say. India is exporting around 50 different varieties of fish to as many as 75 countries. This means fish exports account for around 10% of the total exports and almost 20% of the total agricultural exports.