Innovating Value-added Customized Products from Fish to Enrich Livelihood
AIP Team of Experts from Tuskegee University Explores the Fishing Industry in Assam
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh | December 19, 2012: A 5-member team from Tuskegee University is on a visit to Assam on 7-21 December, 2012 to explore the fishing industry and look at possibilities of enriching it using advanced fish-processing and value addition techniques applicable in the local context as part of the Agricultural Innovation Partnership (AIP). The team will also explore the fish market in the state to learn the status quo of fisheries, the socio-economic and historical issues, the level of fish processing today, the implementation of innovative and novel approaches in fish processing, preservation, value-addition and marketing as an effort to alleviate poverty with thrust on production. AIP, a project funded by the USAID, is a consortium of leading agricultural universities and institutions in India and US and supported by private partners in India, is managed by Sathguru Management Consultants.
While on the one hand the vast aquatic resources, Assam has not been able to produce the required amount of fish to meet the growing demand of an ever increasing fish eating population of the State, on the other hand, a huge amount of produce is wasted every year in the state. Research shows that the fishery industry in Assam holds the potential of being a key contributor towards enhancing the per capita income of the rural poor. Fishing could be developed into a prosperous industry to help alleviate poverty as well as supply a rich and affordable source of high grade proteins for the populace. Apart from the demand for fresh fish, Assam boasts of high demand for fish-based products as well. Nevertheless, the fishing industry in Assam is not profitable, despite the state owning several fresh water sources conducive to fish production.
Despite the bounties of nature, fishing in Assam suffers from several climatic disadvantages, which include a tropical weather in which fish does not keep fresh for long without proper refrigeration, and is wasted at a large scale. Assam’s fishery resources are badly under-utilized due to lack of concerted efforts and hold a tremendous scope of investment in the packaging and processing plants, operations in preservation and export of locally-bred fresh water breeds. Considering these facts, there is scope for developing technology for value addition and infrastructure for exports through public private partnerships. Also, the fisheries industry faces a number of challenges and issues such as lack of accurate data on assessment of fishery resources and their potential in terms of fish production; developing sustainable technologies for fin and shell fish culture; yield optimization; harvest and post-harvest operations; facilities for welfare of fishermen; etc. These suggest several investment opportunities in the sector for entrepreneurs.
The team of renowned experts and accomplished professionals from Tuskegee University attempts to address several issues like these to ensure a better future for the fishing industry in Assam. Led by Dr. Channapatna S Prakash, the team comprises Dr. Nar K. Gurung, Dr. Olga Bolden Tiller and two researchers-Ms. Mandy Shelby and Ms. Sherlita Robinson. The team will visit the Veterinary College, Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, Assam and attend a seminar with faculty and students from AAU to identify innovative approaches in value addition with respect to the fishery products. The team will also explore the local fish market including upland fisheries in Guwahati and Jagiroad dry fish market (one of the biggest dry fish market in Asia). It’s clear that there’s a need to transform the fisheries sector to ensure its sustainability by taking into account its achievements and capabilities.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Suresh D., General Manager-Life Sciences Advisory Group at Sathguru Management Consultants said, “The sustainable ecological resource base, balanced and pre-emptive policy, public as well as private investments, sound governance, etc., are necessary for sustainable growth of the fisheries. In order to tap into the potential of the industry in Assam, we need infrastructure, investments, technology intensification, diversification and value addition. In short, the fishing industry needs a complete makeover with mutual understanding and cooperation between public and private sectors. Higher productivity rate, efficient transfer of knowledge for sustainable fishing, better fish production techniques with increased fish exports holds the potential for increasing the living standards of Indian fishermen.”
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Prakash said, “Our visit represents exploring the possibilities of a high value partnership between Tuskegee University and Assam Agricultural University. We are delighted to be a part of this project and confident that together we can in a small way contribute to the development of fisheries in Assam in its quest for food security.”
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