Chettuva (Kerala), April 10 (ANI): Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Saturday reiterated the Government's high priority to the fishing sector keeping in view the immense possibilities in the sector in coming years.
He said that the sector has achieved over 6% growth rate. The sector has been one of the major foreign exchange earners, with revenue reaching approximately Rs. 8,000 crore in 2007-08, accounting for about 14% of the agricultural exports.
Speaking at Chettuva in Kerala, where he inaugurated the construction work of a fishing harbour, Mr. Pawar said that the Agriculture Ministry has been implementing a number of Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes, besides initiating various policy initiatives aimed at enhancement of production while securing livelihoods and welfare of fishermen.
Development of Fishing Harbours and Fish landing Centres is one of such schemes initiated and prioritized by the Ministry.
"Through this scheme, we have already taken up 7 major fishing harbours, 65 minor fishing harbours and 194 fish landing centres for construction along the country's vast coast line. Out of these, 6 major fishing harbours, 44 minor fishing harbours and 176 fish landing centres have been completed, while 1 major fishing harbour, 21 minor fishing harbours and 18 fish landing centres are at various stages of construction," he stated.
Pawar called upon States to adopt a proactive approach and formulate appropriate projects for more landing facilities since infrastructure facilities for berthing, landing and handling of fish created so far are still inadequate.
Explaining the importance of such infrastructure, he said: "Apart from the requirement for providing sheltered basin for berthing of boats and landing of catches, stringent quality requirements and food safety standards have assumed greater relevance in international fish trade. Fish importing nations insist on clean and hygienic landing facilities as a prerequisite to meet the high quality standards of seafood."
It is being believed that the Chettuva fishing harbour project would give a tremendous boost to fishing activities in the region and be an important instrument for economic growth.
On the benefits that would accrue after commencement of this harbour, the Minister said: 'I understand that Chettuva is one of the important fishing centres in Thrissur District, with rigorous fishing activity, close proximity to potential fishing grounds and good road connectivity.
Prof. K.V. Thomas, Minister of State for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; S. Sharma, Kerala Minister of Fisheries, K.P. Rajendran, Kerala Minister for Revenue, P.C.Chacko, Member of Parliament and K.V. Abdul Khader, MLA were lso present on this occasion. (ANI)