Staff Reporter

ELURU: The Delta Fish Farmers Welfare Association has urged Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to give official sanction for culturing of Pangassius, a fish variety which is widely cultured in the State and got a great demand in Bangladesh. As the species does not figure in the list of fish varieties approved by the Union government for farming in the country, the government has not established hatcheries for development of the seed of the particular variety anywhere in the country. As a result, six crore seedlings of the variety are being smuggled into the country from Bangladesh every year.

A delegation from the association led by V. Ramachandra Raju, convener of the association, submitted a memorandum to the minister in New Delhi on the issue recently. According to Mr. Raju and M.V.S. Nagi Reddy, convener of the Krishna District Fish Farmers Welfare Association, who addressed the mediapersons here on Friday, around 1 lakh tonnes of Pangassius fish has been produced in the country every year. “It is neither banned nor approved by the government for farming, putting the farmers in a dilemma.

The peculiar situation has resulted in scarcity of the seed”, they said. Apart from Pangassius, ‘Rahu’ and ‘Katla’ are the two other fish species which are widely cultured in the State since they are a preferred food item in the Central India and in the North East.

The association leaders said they also requested Mr. Pawar to focus on provision of market facilities for the fish produce, introduction of the latest feeding and de-boning techniques. They said it would become highly impossible for the government to meet the targets pertaining to fish production during the financial year without encouraging fish farming and fish consumption across the country on a large scale. They recalled that the government aimed at increase the production to 1 crore tonnes by 2012 from the present 70 lakh tonnes.

They wanted the minister to use his offices with the UPA government in conceding the association’s request to extend tax relief to aquaculture by treating it on a par with agriculture.