Kochi: With global demand for organic aquaculture products increasing at a rate of about 10-15 per cent a year, the Marine Products Export Development Authority proposes to actively promote the sector in suitable areas in the country. "India has vast natural resources, which offer excellent potential for development of organic aquaculture," MPEDA Chairperson Leena Nair said.
Nair said global demand for organic feed is increasing and is estimated at around USD 50 billion. Fish products are considered health food and organic fishery products have an increasing market of about USD 800-900 million. "So organic aquaculture has a bright future to cater to the global market," she said.
Organic aquaculture is a new sector identified for development by the MPEDA. Considering the sustainable and eco-friendly nature of organic aquaculture, MPEDA has decided to implement a scheme to promote this sector, she said in a
statement here. To carry out organic aquaculture, farmers have to strictly follow organic standards prescribed by an internationally accepted certification body.
Farmer groups can formulate an Internal Control System (ICS) to implement the programme in a successful manner, she said. Furthermore, inputs like seed and feed have to be from organically certified hatchery or feed mill.
The use of chemicals and drugs is totally prohibited at any stage of the culture period, Leena Nair said. Organically produced and processed fish and shell fish command a premium price in the global market in comparison to conventional products.
MPEDA proposes to subsidise 50 per cent of the expenses for procurement of organic seed and organic feed and the cost toward certification of organic aquaculture initiatives. "Organic farmers can purchase these inputs by 50 per cent advance payment to approved units, she said.
The subsidy ceiling has been raised to Rs 500,00 per hectare of water area and beneficiaries can avail subsidy for a maximum area of six hectares, subject to a financial ceiling of Rs 3 lakh per beneficiary. In case of groups/clusters/societies, the upper limit will be Rs 15 lakh for 30 hectares or more.
The subsidy assistance is provided for the conversion crop as well as the succeeding three organic crops, she said.