The way ahead for fish farming

Bihar consumes a billion dollars-worth of fish every year. But we produce only 50% in the state, and the rest comes in through unorganised retail.

We have 9,000 sq km of waterlogged, unproductive land, an area as large as Cyprus. We have all that land just sitting there, contributing zero to the lives of 1.2 billion people in India and 130 million people in Bihar. We could take that unproductive, waterlogged land, which has no use — you can’t do agriculture, you can’t build a hospital or school on it or [create some sort of] industry on it — and convert it into profitable fish farms, because it’s good only for storing water.

The demand for fish is huge, and it addresses malnourishment and provides food security. We started our first fish farm in 2014. In the last three years, we’ve grown significantly. Fish farming is very profitable, and it spits out cash. The yields are about 16 times higher than the [average] agricultural yield in Bihar. We reinvest whatever [profit] we make to prove a point about the potential. The task ahead of us is to build the whole value chain.… Bihar has 15 million fishermen, and we are connected to only 500,000. We send them text messages about diseases to look out for, or when it’s a good time to fish, and what rates are prevailing in the markets. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.

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