Feb , 2020, Volume : 1 Article : 2
Potentialities in Higher Fisheries Education for Fostering Entrepreneurship Development in India
Author : Neha W. Qureshi and Suman Dey
Higher Fisheries Education plays an important role in fostering fishery-based entrepreneurship in India. Fishery sector play an important role in providing food and nutritional security in India. Promotion of education can surely promote entrepreneurship and therefore food security. In this article role of ICAR-CIFE has been emphasized in achieving that.
The fisheries sector plays a vital role in providing food and nutritional security, employment, income enhancement, and foreign exchange earnings. Owing to the immense contribution of the sector registering the fastest rate of growth among the sub-sectors of the primary sector, the Honourable Prime Minister of India has called for the second blue revolution. In order to achieve this goal, the generation of skilled and competent professional human resources is one of the most crucial inputs for the invention and implementation of new technologies. A realistic demand for human resources depends on several factors such as enabling policy, future thrust areas of development, recruitment qualifications of major employers, national and international scenarios of fisheries development. In India, imparting professional education in fisheries started with the establishment of the College of Fisheries, Mangalore, in 1969 under the aegis of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru. Based on this model, new colleges started functioning in different states under State Agricultural /Veterinary/ Fisheries Universities and Central Agricultural Universities, and today there are 29 of them in the country.
Present Scenario and Downsides of fisheries professionals towards entrepreneurship development
ICAR-CIFE is a premier and only deemed University under ICAR, which is one of its kind in India in generating skilled fisheries human resources. In addition, under ICAR there are seven fisheries research institutes which are also responsible for training the manpower thereby fulfilling the demands of the sector and steering the wheels of the blue economy. Looking at the supply side of professionals, all the state universities and ICAR-CIFE are producing more than 1500 graduates and postgraduates every year as estimated and projected by Biradar (2018), reveals that all the sectors including research and academics, aquafeed industry, processing industry, aquaculture, mariculture, extension, disease diagnostics, fish retail, financial institutions, etc. have scope to take up more people. But there are many hiccups and mismatches which need to be reviewed and alleviated. The paucity of highly trained workforce, as well as non-employability of large sections of the conventionally educated youth who possess little or no job skills, is considered a critical impediment in addressing the challenge of producing affordable food and improving quality of life of fishers and farmers. While the ambitious skill India programme aimed at matching skills required with skills available foretells well for generating human resources for entry-level jobs whereas employability of professional fisheries graduates has not been subjected to much critical scrutiny. However, the fisheries discipline is growing abundantly day by day and at the same time the number of fisheries professionals is increasing at a faster pace with the proliferation of new fisheries colleges in the sector. Although, the fisheries colleges are mushrooming at a faster rate, the job openings for the professionals are scanty due to the fact that fisheries professionals are preferring white collar government jobs mostly ARS (Agriculture Research Service), AP (Assistant Professor) and fisheries department officials which has limited recruitment potentials. In order to fulfill the targets of blue revolution, the sector needs more area under culture as well as trained workforce to harness the potential of the sector full-fledgedly. Hence, there lies the opportunity for fisheries professionals to lead the sector as entrepreneurs and become job givers rather than job seekers in the forthcoming days. Entrepreneurship may be considered a fruitful way to utilize the potentials of fisheries professionals towards reaching the goals of blue revolution. To shape the future of fisheries professionals we need to identify plethora of entrepreneurship opportunities for each specialized fisheries professionals pursuing specialized higher education programs in various disciplines of fisheries. However, the involvement of youth in aquapreneurship is found to be scarce. In this regard, the present article is framed to enunciate the reasons for lack of participation among the youths and to identify the opportunities in higher fisheries education for entrepreneurship development.
Factors limiting the participation of youth in aquaculture
The involvement of the youth in the aquaculture sector is still low and the factors responsible for this are:
Lack of Expertise: Aquaculture involves the rearing of an aquatic organism (fish/shellfish) in a confined environment, which involves some technicalities like breeding, rearing, seed production, etc., essential for successful culture of the organisms. Much of the youth lack the skill and knowledge necessary at the field level.
Capital investment: Every business requires the infusion of capital, and the aquaculture sector is not an exception. The youth who are genuinely interested in entering the aquaculture business find it difficult to raise venture capital or bank finance at lower rates of interest basically as they do not have the skills to draw up a practical proposal that will get bank finance. Again, the potential entrepreneurs find it difficult to raise operating capital to keep themselves competitive. The high-cost fish feed forms a major component of operating capital. The potential entrepreneurs too find it a challenge to enter the sector and get a foothold in the industry.
Preference for the white-collar government jobs: The younger generation prefers “neat” white collar government jobs that command job security. They are reluctant to work in the field due to its tediousness and drudgery involved along with it.
Lack of risk-bearing ability among youth: The fisheries professionals have very low risk-taking and bearing abilities since most of them hail from rural areas with middle class background. Their background also acts as a deterrent to becoming entrepreneurs. Poor knowledge seeking attitude and lack of curiosity compounds the situation.
Lack of awareness: The complexities of the new age financial world that is completely digital, advanced marketing tools and strategies in addition to the advanced technologies demand constant updating and keen awareness. Most aspiring entrepreneurs are not aware of many of the government schemes and subsidies and hence are unable to harness the benefits provided by them.
Potential areas for Aquapreneurship (Blending Entrepreneurship with Aquaculture and Fisheries)
The fisheries sector offers a plethora of opportunities for promoting entrepreneurship. Since this sector is the sunrise sector of the country, youth can harness its potential in many ways. Following are some key areas where immense opportunities for entrepreneurship exist:
Ornamental Fisheries: Government of India has identified ornamental fisheries as a thrust area for providing employment for the rural poor, unemployed youth as well as for women. The income potential of this sector has hardly been understood, and the same is not being exploited due to the lack of skilled human resources. ICAR institutes including ICAR-CIFE, are involved in providing skill development training and conducting capacity building programs for budding entrepreneurs and many professionals. Domestic and foreign demand for ornamental fishes has incurred significant growth, and this offers a scope to take up this area as a business venture. Ornamental fisheries prerequisites a lot of materials, which include quality fish brooders or seed, tanks, aquariums, plants, live feeds, aerators, etc. which provide immense scope for the fisheries professionals to intervene and facilitate the sector in growing, thereby implementing their skills and expertise.
Value addition: It is any process that can change the quality of raw material by adding value to it so that it generates fresh interest in the minds of the consumer, fetching a higher share of the price for the produce of farmers. There are ample scope and opportunities in the area of value addition as it not only provides nutritional snacks and ready to eat fish products to consumers but also helps in augmenting the income of the fishers and youth. India is lagging behind in the case of processing and value addition whereas other countries like China, Japan, USA are procuring frozen fish and shrimps from our country at lower prices and adding value to the raw material and selling the products at higher prices. It gives immense scope for fisheries professionals to open fish processing plants and value-addition centers and produce high-value products that meet the needs of the international consumer. Along with, youths it can be a profitable venture for women too.
Fish and shrimp seed hatcheries: Availability of quality seed is a pre-requisite for sustained growth of aquaculture and culture-based fisheries in the country. Constructing a sufficient number of species-specific hatcheries in every district will ease the problem of the availability of poor quality seeds in the vicinity area. This offers scope for professionals to start-up seed production centers based on the demand of a particular area for a particular species. There is enough support available to enterprising entrepreneurs in terms of venue, for up-gradation of one’s skills, and in addition to its government’s financial support is extended for investments in new hatcheries.
Disease Diagnostic Laboratories: Shrimp farmers are advised to test their seed at approved PCR laboratories. This has resulted in the establishment of aquaculture diagnostic laboratories either in hatcheries itself or independently for certifying the seed before purchase. MPEDA has established few such labs and has come out with a subsidy-linked scheme for establishing such labs in private hatcheries. These laboratories can have facilities for certifying the seed and also provide consultancy for disease control combined with soil and water testing and related works. Such areas offer scope for educated youth to take up the venture and setup disease diagnostics lab at districts/blocks for assisting farmers in need.
Aqua Feed Industry: There are about 26 feed mills in India with an installed production capacity of 2.88 million tonnes (Yes Bank Report, 2015-16). However, only 1.65 million tonnes of feed were produced in 2015-16, realizing only 43.4 percent of capacity. India imports more than half of the requirement from other countries, indicating huge scope for aquafeed industry. Leveraging an average growth rate of 6 percent, the demand for aquafeed is projected to be around 8 million tonnes by 2019-20. In addition, fisheries professionals are also recruited by many companies that supply other aqua inputs like chemicals, probiotics, etc. along with feed. Observing at the other side of the coin, youth can think about starting their own companies to exploit the huge market potential of feed industry in India.
Culture-based fisheries: The mission Blue Revolution, Integrated National Fisheries Action Plan-2016 (DAHD&F, 2016), envisages the development of about 100,000 ha of wetlands for fisheries; stocking of small reservoirs with fingerlings and installation of about additional 3800 cages in medium and large reservoirs. Cage culture pre-requisites a lot of material and manpower like supplying the cage construction material to installation of cages to seed stocking, rearing and harvesting, and maintenance, which offers opportunities for aquapreneurs to intervene and facilitate the process.
Mariculture: Open sea cage farming offers immense scope for enhancing marine fish production, which has been stagnating and simultaneously reduces fishing pressure on natural stocks. The technology has been successfully demonstrated, and the economic viability of sea cage farming of some marine fish species and mission Blue Revolution, Integrated National Fisheries Action Plan-2016 (DAHD&F, 2016), has set up a target of installation of 2879 more cages by 2020. The major constraint is lack of hatcheries, which produce fingerlings for stocking in the cages. Presently there are only 8 hatcheries of sea bass and cobia, and Mission Blue revolution has a target to set up 24 hatcheries by 2020. Seaweed farming, mussel farming, preparation of ornaments and jewelry from fish scales and shells of crustaceans, oyster farming, pearl culture, etc. offers a huge business potential if utilized efficiently and effectively.
Marketing- The fish marketing system in India is unorganized, involving a large number of intermediaries between the producer and consumer, thereby reducing the fishermen’s share (Kumar et al., 2008). The fish marketing system, which is an integral part of the value chain of the fisheries sector lags far behind satisfaction with regard to existing improper infrastructures of the markets (FAO, 2001). Henceforth, there lies ample opportunities for the entrepreneurs to intervene in the area like developing marketing apps, database for market information system, providing storage facilities, insulated cheap icebox supply, one-stop-shop business which will include all the equipment and materials required for marketing (fish keeping trays, hundis, cutting and degutting instruments, packaging materials, weighing balances etc.)
Export and trade- Export is considered as one of the significant components of the country’s GDP. Fish and fish products have presently emerged as the largest group in agricultural exports from India, with 13.77 lakh tonnes in terms of quantity and Rs. 45,106.89 crore in value. This accounts for around 10% of the total exports and nearly 20% of the agricultural exports, and contribute to about 0.91% of the GDP and 5.23% to the agriculture GVA of the country (NFDB, 2019). The progressive growth of the exports calls for more players in the sector to facilitate the smooth export of fish and fish products. Though there has been a large increase in the exports in the last 5 years, it has been noticed that many existing farmers or entrepreneurs are facing issues with export procedures and lack awareness about custom duties. Here lie opportunities for the fisheries professionals to act as consultants /advisors of export procedures and building awareness among fish farmers and budding professionals thereby facilitating fruitful export chain.
Bankable projects – Fisheries being the fastest-growing sector among the agriculture and allied sectors, has captured the attention of the government as well as the bureaucrats. In this regard, lot of funds for schemes , projects are being released by the government for different culture systems. The irony is that the fish farmers/ fishers are not able to avail the facilities due to lack of proper knowledge, awareness, and capabilities to harness the benefits. Herein lies the scope for fisheries professionals to act as a project consultant for entrepreneurs and help them to prepare projects for institutional funding.
Biotechnological applications in marine processing – In the modern era, biotechnology is a field to harness and apply to make breakthrough products in the field of fisheries. These areas can be extraction of bio-active compounds, extraction of functional ingredients, bio-polymers (agar, carrageenan), novel drugs and health-care products, anti-cancer drugs, vitamins, chitin, chitosan, collagen, nutraceuticals, biofuels and biological prospecting-discovery of novel genes that lead to commercial development of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, cosmetics etc (Alam, 2018). These areas are still unexplored, and a lot more can be done. The fisheries professionals can be breakthrough leaders in this field earning handsome income.
Extension based applications – Extension is a dynamic discipline supporting all the fields of fisheries. It also offers opportunities for tech-savvy youth and professionals. The areas which can be explored are developing fisher friendly and consumer-friendly apps, database collecting agencies for marketing, inland fisheries; developing and monitoring AI-based sensors for farm management, managers of big data analytics for identifying illegal fishing activities and also help in predicting business trends, diseases; developing block chain based traceability systems for seafood and fishes; capacity building expert agencies for fisheries officers and farmers on the new domains of fisheries. The extension-based link is very important since most of the technologies developed reach farmers/fishers, but adoption remains weak due to gap in communication. The use of user-friendly and simplified ICT based tools is the need of the hour. This will enhance the speedy transfer and adoption of technologies. One more important domain of research which can strengthen the growth of the sector and quantify the contribution of research and extension towards blue economy is to estimate the due impact of the technologies on the livelihoods and income of stakeholders after proper incubation.
The intensification of aquaculture and the expansion of fisheries will play a crucial role in achieving second blue revolution and doubling farmers’ income by 2022. At present there is a huge mismatch between demand and supply of fisheries professionals coupled with lack of jobs and increasing unemployment in the country. Skilling youth, school dropouts, and fish farmers will help in speedier creation of manpower to effectively manage the sector. Harnessing the potential areas in fisheries through fostering entrepreneurship may help the sector to grow by leaps and bounds in the forthcoming days.
Alam, A.K.M.N., 2018. Blue economy development: Scope for entrepreneurship development among fisheries professionals. 3rd International Symposium on Aquaculture and Fisheries Education (ISAFE3), Conference paper, Pp. 1-5
FAO. 2001. Production, accessibility, marketing, and consumption patterns of freshwater aquaculture products in Asia: a cross-country comparison. FAO Fisheries Circular. No. 973, Rome, 275p.
Kumar, B. G., K. K. Datta, P. K. Joshi, P. K. Katiha, R. Suresh, T. Ravisankar, K. Ravindranath, and M. Menon. 2008. Domestic Fish Marketing in India – Changing Structure, Conduct, Performance, and Policies. Agriculture Economics Research Review 21:345-54.
NFDB, 2019. About Indian fisheries, Available on - http://nfdb.gov.in/about-indian-fisheries.htm, (Accessed on 06-09-19).
Yes Bank (2015). Indian Feed industry: Revitalising Nutritional Security, Available on https://www.yesbank.in/pdf/indian_feed_industry_revitalizing_nutritional_security.pdf.
Potentialities in Higher Fisheries Education.pdf