By: Suman Dey and Chinmaya Nanda* ICAR – Central Institute of Fisheries Education
Aquaculture provides an appropriate alternative for improving fish production to address increasing fish consumption with massive livelihood benefits for societies. However, aquaculture production of India is a mere 7.1% as compared to 61.5% of China. The current utilization pattern of inland water resources for farming and the productivity of India’s aquaculture systems are far below the global average. Since aquaculture requires both scientific capacity and business skills, hence promoting aquapreneurship development through skilled professionals can be a viable option in exploiting and expanding the aquaculture potentials of this country.
Present-day challenges of nutritional security, unemployment, and livelihood security for a thriving population of more than 9 billion people (by mid-21st century) vis-à-vis the impacts of climate change and resource degradation calls for an innovative approach towards sustainable development.
Agriculture and allied sectors, especially fisheries and aquaculture, possess the capability to gain sustainability while addressing the main issues of livelihood generation and unemployment (FAO, 2018).
“Although small scale fisheries contribute significantly in most rural areas of developing countries for food security and income generation (FAO, 2010), the current production has already reached its saturation (Kumaran and Anand, 2016).”
At the same time, aquaculture provides an appropriate alternative for improving fish production to address increasing fish consumption (Kumaran and Anand, 2016) with massive livelihood benefits for the rural poor (Phukan and Barman, 2015; FAO 2010, FAO, 2018). Sir Peter Drucker has also elucidated that “aquaculture, not the Internet, represents the most promising investment opportunity of the 21st Century”.
Currently, aquaculture contributes significantly to the Indian economy and ranks second in the global aquaculture production (Ayyappan and Diwan, 2007). However, aquaculture production of India is a mere 7.1% as compared to 61.5% of China (FAO, 2018).
The current utilization pattern of inland water resources for farming and the productivity of our aquaculture systems are far below the global average. Conversely, the share of employment in capture fisheries is stagnating or decreasing, and increased opportunities are being observed in the aquaculture sector (FAO, 2010; FAO 2018).
Since aquaculture requires both scientific capacity and business skills, hence promoting aquapreneurship development through skilled professionals can be a viable option in exploiting and expanding the aquaculture potentials of India.
“Aquapreneurship is a successful marriage of entrepreneurship with aquaculture. Aquapreneurship turns the farm into an aqua business. It mainly relates to establishing aqua enterprises that may reap favorable benefits for the farmers. The entrepreneurs involved in aqua enterprise establishment are referred to as aqua entrepreneurs/ aquapreneurs.”
Aquaculture entrepreneur/ Aquapreneur is an ingenious and creative person who is engaged in fish farming or fish trading activities that adds to their wealth (Mandania, 2012). It involves all the activities like farming, marketing, processing, trading, and value addition.
Aquapreneurs possess attributes similar to entrepreneurs, and so they are regarded as entrepreneurs too. Entrepreneurs are the innovators causing a change in the economy via new markets or new ways of doing things (Bairwa et al., 2014).
Fundamentally, an entrepreneur requires entrepreneurial knowledge, ability, opportunities, and spirit (Colin and Jack, 2004) and an interplay among people, society, rules, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem with suitable environments, organizations, and new venture processes (Gartner, 1985) to develop a sustainable enterprise.
“Visualizing aquaculture through the lenses of entrepreneurship, introduces several factors that hike into a beneficial undertaking.”
These elements like the development of goals, marketability of traditional species, availability and degree of technology, availability of production inputs and aid facilities and offerings, funding requirements, and environmental concerns (Baluyut, 1989) help such entrepreneurs to create something new, something distinct as they alternate or transmute values (Drucker, 1986).
Managing aquaculture serves both commercial and social purposes, generally indicated through the significant objective. Subsistence and family farming, crop/animal integrated farming, and farming for recreational purposes, are primarily orientated to social benefits. In contrast, small-scale farming enterprises, cooperative and state farms, as well as vertically integrated large-scale farms are run mainly for economic gains (Pillay, 1997).
Therefore, aquaculture ends up in providing employment/livelihood opportunities beside the development of rural areas (Baluyut, 1989).
In Asia, aquaculture nourishes an enormous rural population, mostly engaged in labour-intensive work through a protein-rich diet (Liao, 1988). Furthermore, aquaculture provides excellent opportunities for employment and income generation, particularly in the more economically depressed rural areas.
“Aquaculture employs large numbers of people either directly in fish farming activities (for example, fish pond/fish pen/fish cage operators, caretakers, construction workers, pump tenders, vehicle/ machine operators, harvesting aides) or indirectly as employees in related or ancillary industries (as net manufacturers, boat-makers, fry gatherers, bamboo suppliers) (Baluyut, 1989).”
Therefore, the concept of aquapreneurship is an essential focus of research that is making it possible to undertake concrete actions in aid of the productive sectors.
Entrepreneurial possibilities in Indian aquaculture sectors are still under-exploited (Mohanty and Sajesh, 2018). Entrepreneurial possibilities exist across the value chain in aquaculture, from production to value addition and marketing.
Technological options for various subsectors like harvest, post-harvest, aquaculture production, by-product utilization are being generated, and the process is still going on in research institutes and fisheries universities (Mohanty and Sajesh, 2018).
Conversely, remodeling fisheries education for promoting entrepreneurship can also foster this need where aquapreneurship can serve as a viable promising venture for the fisheries graduate professionals to meet their employment demands in 2020 (Kumaran and Anand, 2016) besides offering a cheap protein for human intake and opportunities for rural development.
Finfish and Shellfish aquaculture entails scientific capacity as well as business skills, which in turn needs entrepreneurship.
Consequently, an inflow of fisheries graduates is necessarily required for economic resource management and redeployment with a purpose to create economic values (Schumpeter, 1934) and foster such systems through sustainable development.
However, current graduates incubate moderate entrepreneurial motivation with reduced risk-taking, variant focus, and low self-efficacy (Kumaran and Anand, 2016).
“This is due to the inadequacy of the fisheries curriculum, which can be enhanced while incorporating aquapreneurship and personality development as a course with adequate practical exposure to enhance their capacity and attitudinal predisposition (Kumaran and Anand, 2016).”
Besides including separate courses for entrepreneurship, student incubation centres may be established embraced with the handholding facilities required for converting professionals into Aquapreneurs.
Role of the government towards promoting aquapreneurship
Although entrepreneurship in the fish farming sector is a neglected issue from the perspective of entrepreneurship development, (Phukan and Barman, 2015) efforts towards aquapreneurship development in governmental activities are evident through various developmental programs and schemes.
The government of India has proposed a Modular Employable Skill (MES) development program to train people with marketable skills.
Aquaculture is a potential area for employment generation, and is also included in this program. The program focuses on providing a minimum skillset vital for employability through a short-term modular course for specific skill development (Yasin, 2010).
“The government is also playing a proactive role through the provisions of Aqua-clinics and aquapreneurship development scheme with MANAGE as the nodal agency, as well as through the Aquaculture Incubation Centre, focussed on fisheries and aquaculture to promote entrepreneurship development (Mohanty and Sajesh, 2018).”
The government of India, in its Union budget 2020, has also announced investment for promoting entrepreneurship in the fish processing sector.
Aquapreneurship is a viable and promising venture for the next generation of entrepreneurs concerning livelihood, profitability, and sustainability. The aquaculture sector has the vast potential to utilize the business as well as the professional skills of the proliferating fisheries professionals in the sector.
Amidst of a plethora of benefits, aquapreneurship may entail various challenges before the professionals such as gaps in their knowledge and skill, lack of updated information on existing technology, ignorance of proper market information or access, and lack of risktaking ability.
However, to excel in any business, one has to face specific challenges that can be improved and translated into strengths. The formation of an independent Ministry for Fisheries, as well as the governments’ focus in budget allocation may provide impetus in promoting aquapreneurship development in the coming years, fostering the development of professionals into aquapreneurs.
References cited on the article by the authors are available under previous request to our editorial staff.
ICAR – Central Institute of Fisheries Education Mumbai, India.
Corresponding author – firstname.lastname@example.org