KOCHI: The ongoing Covid-19 lockdown has dealt a massive blow to the fisheries sector, especially the harvest and post-harvest sector. Voicing concern at the situation, Ravishankar C N, director, ICAR- Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), Kochi said, “Fisheries sector provides livelihood to around 16 million people in the country apart from its contribution to food and nutritional security and as a major forex earner. In 2018-19, seafood exports brought in $6.7 billion to the exchequer.”
According to the director, ICAR-CIFT Kochi will be supporting the government through a Covid-19 impact assessment study conducted by its scientists in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. And a comprehensive report on ‘Study of major impacts of Covid-19 on harvest and post-harvest fisheries in India’ along with suitable recommendations has been submitted to ICAR, New Delhi, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare for effective policy implications to keep national food supply chains alive in terms of food and nutritional security. The findings will help mitigate the fallout of this pandemic on the food system and protect vulnerable communities in the fisheries sector during the looming food crisis.
“The report calls for strong policy support to the sector, including assistance to fisher folk, and facilitation of export and domestic marketing of fish,” said Ravishankar C N.“ICAR-CIFT has volunteered to join hands with various stakeholders to face the challenges encountered by the sector on account of the lockdown and suggest measures to ensure livelihood security of millions of fishers during the pandemic by reinventing the value chain,” he added.
Ravishankar C N, flagged the macro issues which have cropped up during the 21-day lockdown, mainly due to the restrictions on gatherings, movement of fishermen, shutdown of harbours, markets and constraints in input and service delivery across the value chain etc. The slump in demand due to the Covid spread in major export markets like the US, China and European Union member states have started trickling to the ground-level.
“Though there is rise in demand for dry fish, drying units are unable to make optimum use of the opportunity due to difficulty in sourcing the raw material,” he added. Also, ICAR-CIFT has extended scientific support to the state government by providing real-time PCR machines for Covid testing. The institute has also donated one day’s gross salary of all permanent staff for March to PM-Cares Fund.
CRISIS IN THE INDUSTRY
● The slump in demand due to the Covid spread in major export markets like the US, China and European Union member states have started trickling to the ground-level.
● Though there is rise in demand for dry fish, drying units are unable to make optimum use of the
opportunity due to difficulty in sourcing the raw material