In the Indian state of Assam, capture fisheries and aquaculture provide livelihoods for thousands of rural households, who are directly or indirectly involved in the production and marketing of fish.
While the current average productivity in ponds is around 1,680 kg/ha/yr, beel fisheries produce less than 500 kg/ha/yr. This is far below the potential productivity as well as below the productivity achieved by other states, including Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. In addition, the quality of fish seed produced in the state is sub-standard because of inbreeding and use of undersized broodstock. The chronic shortage of fish feed also impedes farm productivity.
The Government of Assam (GoA), through the Government of India, has received a loan of USD 200 million from the World Bank for implementation of the Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART). The project development objective (PDO) is to add value and improve resilience of selected agriculture value chains, focusing on smallholder farmers and agro-entrepreneurs in targeted districts of Assam. Fish has been prioritized as one of the value chains for interventions under APART.
WorldFish will provide technical support to the Directorate of Fisheries in the implementation of the project's fisheries sub-component. In line with the PDO, the technical support aims to accomplish the following five broad objectives:
- Enable sustainable increases in aquaculture production without creating adverse socioeconomic or environmental impacts (sustainable intensification of aquaculture);
- Secure and enhance the contribution of small-scale fisheries to food security in Assam (increasing the diversity and productivity of beels);
- Increase the availability, access and consumption of nutrient-rich, safe fish, especially for women of reproductive age, infants and young children (improving fish value chains and human nutrition);
- Develop and promote climate-resilient technologies in support of sustainable aquaculture and small-scale fisheries (climate -resilient/climate-smart aquaculture technologies);
- Promote gender-transformative approaches in support of sustainable aquaculture and beel fisheries in Assam (gender-transformative approaches in aquaculture).