In a major development that would energise the aquaculture sector in the country, three fisheries graduates from Mangalore Fisheries College have come up with a start-up initiative in seed production of Asian seabass, which has huge commercial importance, with the technical support of the ICAR-Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), Chennai. This is the first attempt in the country in setting up the seabass hatchery in the private sector on a start-up mode. An MoU was signed between the CIBA and ‘Canares Aquaculture’ owned by the young entrereneurs from Kumta, Karnataka on the Westacoast of India to ensure transfer of CIBA’s technology on seabass seed production to the latter. The initiative assumes significance in the wake of the launch of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17th September, for boosting fish production, doubling farmer’s income and the sustainable growth of fisheries sector.
Unlike most of their colleagues, Mr. Karthik Gowda V.S., Mr. Kaushik Alike and Mr. Sachin V. Savan, the three fisheries graduates from Manglore Fisheries College, chose to develop their career in entrepreneurship. Rather, they wanted to become job providers in the area in which they are familiar with thanks to their bachelor programme, than becoming job seekers. Their visit to the CIBA’s seabass hatchery at Muttukadu experimental station during their Bachelor of Fisheries Science (BFSc) programme became influential in setting their career in aquaculture start-up. While they informed their intention with the CIBA authorities, the institute provided them technical guidance and field training in seabass nursery rearing while they communicated with the institute authorities their desire to set up start-up in the field. The CIBA followed up the start-up with hand-holding which enabled them getting funding support to start the firm.
Dr K K Vijayan, Director of CIBA called the start-up initiative a milestone in brackish water aquaculture. “It is a path-breaking development in country’s aquaculture sector with youngsters coming to this field with start-up ventures which will pave way for a resurgence and growth in the brackish water aquaculture, especially Asian seabass farming in the country”, he said. According to him, private sector has become largely reluctant to enter marine fish seed production consequent to the relatively longer production cycle and need for unique skill sets required for rearing marine fish larvae.
“It is heartening to see fisheries graduates turning to become entrepreneurs in aquaculture. Since they are equipped with technical skills in the area, they are more likely to become successful entrepreneurs in aquaculture, which is increasingly becoming popular these days”, he said. Emphasising the need for boosting the production of quality seeds of Asian seabass, Dr Vijayan said that it is equally important to use indigenous technologies in both hatchery reared seeds and formulated feeds for development of scientific seabass farming in the country.
With the farmed Asian seabass having huge commercial value, there is a huge demand for its quality seeds among aquafarmers across the country. Presence of a well-established value chain for sea bass is very evident from spawn to harvest size, where huge demand exists among the farmers for the range of hatchery and farm produced seeds. According the CIBA, in seabass value chain, on tier wise rearing mode for fry, fingerlings, advanced fingerlings and subadults, a net profit of Rs.1.0 – 1.5/-, Rs.10-15/-, Rs.30-50/- and Rs.140-190/-, can be made respectively, and the final grow-out seabass above one kg size fetches a market price in the range of Rs-450 to 750, again with smart profits for the sebass farmer.
The initiative of PMMSY, if implemented in right earnest, should be able to bring about the envisaged “Blue revolution” contributing to 9% GVA by 2024-25. Simultaneously, it could position India as a strong competitive force in the global trade of marine products ‘increasing exports substantially’ and the income of fishers and fisheries farmers.
CIBA Director Dr K K Vijayan and three fisheries graduates exchanging an MoU for the transfer of technology regarding the setting up of the start-up
Young fisheries graduates being trained at CIBA prior to the setting up of start-up on seed production of Asian seabass