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Scaling up Tilapia production in India – Potential for species diversification
Nov 10, 2022

Scaling up Tilapia Production in India – Potential for species diversification


Indian Fisheries and Aquaculture sector is considered as a sunrise sector and is poised to play a significant role in the Indian economy in near future. India continues to retain its position as the second largest fish producer in the world with a production of 14.16 million metric tonnes during 2019-20. The sector too has witnessed a paradigm shift from marine dominated fisheries to inland fisheries, with the latter emerging as a major contributor of fish production from 36% in the mid-1980 to 70% in the recent past. Within inland fisheries, a shift from capture to culture-based fisheries has paved the way for sustained blue economy.

Towards identifying the enablers for diversifying into potential species like Tilapia - one of the most productive and globally traded food fish in the world, Confederation of Indian Industry in collaboration with the World Fish organised a Dialogue on “Scaling Tilapia Production in India” with the aim of Showcasing India as a potential production and processing hub for Tilapia on November 10, 2022.

The sector has shown an impressive growth with fish production registering an average annual growth of 7.53% during the last 5 years. Besides the domestic market, fisheries and aquaculture sector contribute greatly to India’s export earnings as well. The country exported 12.89 lakh metric tons of fisheries products valued at Rs.46,662 crores (USD 6.68 billion) during 2019-20, largely mitigating the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Releasing the report on “Tilapia Scaling Strategy” jointly prepared by CII and World Fish, Mr Jatindra Nath Swain, Secretary - Fisheries, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying congratulated CII and World Fish on the report on production potential and mentioned that “there is a need to focus on domestic market consumption along with exports, deploying more scientific methods of production and preservation”. He emphasized on creating a seamless cold supply chain for the movement of fisheries from river regions to land locked states to create a stable price and availability. He also proposed that, the government is open to give a buying support for a period of three years , if seeds can be available under PPP model through hatcheries.

He emphasized that in order to significantly expand tilapia production in India, a collaborative approach that leverages WorldFish’s expertise, including the development of brood stock hatchery, infrastructure, finance, capacity building, branding and marketing as well as the extensive support of state fisheries departments to further reach out to fishers, farmers, entrepreneurs and donors is critical. 

Realising the sector’s potential, the Government has committed to a national target to increase fish production to 22 million metric tons by 2024-2025, which will have a positive impact on 28 million fishers and fish farmers and almost twice that number along fish-related value chains.

Towards reaching the vision, the government is providing fiscal support through several schemes. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) has been set up with a fund size of Rs. 7,522.48 crore towards creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and inland fisheries sectors and augment the fish production. Further, the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) was launched with an allocation of Rs. 20,050 crores, the highest ever investment for fisheries sector. The PMMSY will be implemented over a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024- 25 in all States/Union Territories.

Focusing on the role of world fish in tapping the full potential of Tilapia, Dr John Benzie, Lead- Genetics Group, Acting Director of Aquatic Foods Biosciences, World Fish highlighted “50% world production of Tilapia is either through GIFT or GIFT derived strains of Tilapia”. He also mentioned that in 2019, despite the huge growth in aquaculture production, the genetic growth has been limited , although through these genetically improved strains  , India possesses a huge opportunity for the production and processing of Tilapia and access to global market.

Another important driver in the sector growth story will involve focusing on value added products, especially for the export market, and the private sector is expected to play a key role towards right infrastructure development at right places.

The global fish processing market is segmented into frozen, preserved, dried and others (smoked and surimi); with frozen is the most common fish processing type practiced. The industry believes that the sector has a lot of untapped potential and a huge scope and opportunity to increase India’s share in the global export market.

Mr Salil Singhal, Member, SCALE Committee and Chairman Emeritus, PI Industries, mentioned that “Within the 24 identified sectors, Fisheries & Aquaculture has been included as one of the Champion Sectors, due to the huge potential of export and the inherent strength India possesses. As per the Champion Sector initiative, the fisheries and aquaculture industry has set a target of Doubling the exports to 14 Bn USD by 2027 and further doubling in 5 years to 28 Bn USD.”

Fisheries sector has huge potential for value creation and livelihood generation. The sector contributes 1.2 per cent to the national Gross Value Add (GVA) and 7.3 per cent to the agriculture GVA. The focus from the Government on infrastructure to support Fisheries & Aquaculture will further help the segment grow.

He highlighted the financial estimate outlay that would be required for the development of Tilapia, from the year 2023 till 2032 is Rs. 5,557 crore and Rs. 2,587 crores respectively.

Mr Arabind Das, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, stated that “CII through its National Task Force on Fisheries is committed to work along with the government and various agencies to achieve the vision setup for the sector; and will work towards positioning India as an investment destination and export leader for marine products.” He also emphasized that the culture of tilapia has become commercially popular in many parts of the world and the fishery experts have labelled tilapia as “aquatic chicken” due to its quick growth and low maintenance cultivation.

Dr M Vijay Gupta, World Food Prize Laureate, Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate, Former Assistant Director General, WorldFish Centre (CGIAR), Former Research Coordinator, International Network on Genetics in Aquaculture mentioned that “Tilapia is a species that can be grown easily at multiple water bodies and can act as a highly nutritious protein source for rural population.” He highlighted that it is a species that can provide livelihood to large group of women farmers, and it has a huge role to play in export market”. It is critical to establish certified hatcheries for tilapia production in India to reap its benefits.

The Opening Session was followed by a session on Potential of Tilapia Farming, Processing and Markets. The primary focus of increasing tilapia production is on increased rural livelihoods and job opportunities, particularly for women and youth. Scaling tilapia production in India will help deliver simultaneous progress both domestically and internationally across several Sustainable Development Goals. Tilapia has the potential to become part of India’s export basket and substantially contribute to India’s export target.

The discussions during the day reinstated the fact that Tilapia production and processing has a huge potential to position India as a world leader in fisheries and aquaculture. While the government has taken significant steps in the form of schemes and funds to boost the sector; it is critical to utilize these reforms in a strategic manner to realize the full potential and reap the benefits as intended.


10 November 2022

New Delhi

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