Raipur: Over two lakh people engaged in fishery business in the state will be benefitted from the state government's decision to give Agriculture status to pisciculture. The state Cabinet decided this in a meeting held on July 20. People engaged in pisciculture will be eligible for loans like farmers growing crops and rebates on water cess and electric charge, according to the Cabinet decision which is aimed at promoting fish farming and subsequently bring a positive change among 2.5 lakh people involved in fishery business in the state.
The pisciculture has witnessed a noticeable growth in the state in the last two and a half years. The state had witnessed 13 percent growth in fishling production and 9 percent growth in fish production. The state is expected to witness a sharp rise in fish production after the state government gave it the status of Agriculture. Till date, fish farmers take loans up to Rs 1 lakh at a 1 percent rate of interest, and up to Rs 3 lakh farmers are charged with 3 percent interest. But the Agriculture status to pisciculture has made fish farmers eligible to withdraw loans at zero percent interest rate according to their need. Fish farmers will be provided credit cards like other farmers.
Water supply in a 30000-hectare area is required for fish farming and water is supplied from dams meant for irrigation and water reservoirs through canals. As a result, fish farmers used to pay a water cess of Rs 4 per 10000 cubic ft water. But now, this water will be provided free of cost. Fish farmers also used to pay Rs 4.40 per unit which has also been exempted by the state government. These sops have reduced the investment money of fish farmers by Rs 10 per kg fish production. The decision will increase production and strengthen the economy of the fish farmers.
These are the reasons why Chhattisgarh stands sixth in the country in fish production. However, the status of agriculture to pisciculture will certainly improve the rank of Chhattisgarh in the nation. At present State has 93698 water reservoirs and ponds which have a water area of 1.92 lakh hectares. Out of this area, 1.81 lakh hectare area of 81,616 water reservoirs and ponds is being used for fish farming, 94 percent of total water area.
Chhattisgarh also supplies fishlings to states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar. Chhattisgarh produces 288 crore fishlings and 5.77 lakh metric tons of fish every year. State produces 3.682 metric tons of fish per hectare which is 0.432 metric tons higher than the national production of 3.250 metric tonnes.
So far 2386 cages have been set up in the state including 1000 cages in the Korba district itself. Fish farmers and people belonging to this community were seen entering into fish farming during the lockdown. They dug ponds in the fields for fish farming during the Covid lockdown period in the last two years. The government gives Rs 4.40 lakh to farmers belonging to the general category and Rs 6.60 lakh to people from SC, ST, and women beneficiaries as grants. Chhattisgarh also gives insurance cover to fish farmers. RS 5 lakh insurance is given in case of death of an insured farmer while RS 25000 for treatment of injured farmers. Cooperative society gives assistance of Rs 1 lakh every year for a period of three years. The government also has a provision to give a 40 percent grant on the investment of Rs 7.50 lakh for using Biofloc technology in fish farming.
A new policy is being drafted to promote fish farming and fish farmers in the state. State Agriculture and Water Resources Minister-led committee has recommended several other measures for the benefits of fish farmers, including bonuses for them.