Of 20 mn fishermen, Kisan credit cards given to 8,400 so far, says govt

The government on Thursday said it has distributed Kisan Credit Card (KCC) to only 8,400 fishermen so far in the country and efforts are being made to reach out to more people.

To give boost to the fishery sector, the government has drafted two key bills, which are expected to be placed in Parliament either in the ongoing or next session, it said.

The National Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill 2019 and the other bill on controlling diseases in fish are yet to be approved by the Cabinet.

Addressing an event on the occasion of the World's Fisheries Day here, Fisheries Minister Giriraj Singh said among several measures announced, the government had extended a short term credit facility, which was available to farmers pursuing animal husbandry and fisheries in 2018-19.

"So far, 8,400-odd fish farmers have got KCC. This number is too small when compared to around 2 crore fish farmers in the country. We are going to review and take measures to step up our efforts to reach more people," he said.

In the Budget 2018-19, the government had announced extension of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) facility to animal husbandry farmers and fishermen to help them meet their working capital requirements.

However, not many cards could be distributed to fish farmers due to lack of awareness and delay in issuing RBI guidelines for implementation of this facility, sources said.

The KCC facility meets the short term credit requirements of rearing of animals, birds, fish, shrimp, other aquatic organisms and for capturing fish.

Stating that there is huge untapped potential in the fishery sector, the minister said that efforts are being to create an atmosphere to increase the income of fish farmers.

The target is to increase the income of fish farmers by five fold in the next five years and therefore a separate ministry carved out to focus on this sector and several schemes have been rolled out to boost production, export and value addition, he said.

Singh said the government is planning to promote cage culture in marine and reservoirs, bring down post harvest loss from 25 per cent 10 per cent, and shrimp cultivation in saline water, among others.

Echoing the views, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Secretary Rajni Sekhri Sibal said the neighbouring countries, like China, are taking advantage of Indian marine resources due to lack of legislation.

The ministry has drafted the National Marine Fisheries (regulation and Management) Bill 2019 and another on controlling disease in fish, which are likely to come up for discussion in Parliament in the current or next session, she said.

The marine fisheries regulation aims to regulate and manage fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone of India and Indian fishing vessels in the high seas and for responsible and long-term sustainable and optimal utilization of marine fish resources, she added.

Minister of state for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Sanjeev Kumar Balyan said doubling farmers income cannot be possible without focusing on fishery sector and the National Fish Development Board should focus on promoting fish cultivation in north India.

The Board has done enough in South India and as a result Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are much ahead in the fishery sector when compared to other states, he added.

Fish production in India, the world's second largest producer, is about 13 million tonnes at present.

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