Open sea cage farming model of Gujarat Siddis to get tech push

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Representative Image File Photo
Representative Image
File Photo

Ahmedabad, 29 July (PTI): A cooperative model for open sea cage farming being promoted by Siddis of African origin in Veraval of Gujarat is all set to get a technological push with the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute lending its resources for the seed production of two types of mullet.

The initiative is also aimed at bringing a paradigm shift in traditional fishing and introducing anglers to fish farming so as to reduce pressure on fishing.

Over 20 Siddi families had formed a society under the banner of ‘Bharat Adin Jyot Matsya Udyog Mandali’ two years ago to launch the open sea cage lobster farming, off the Somnath coast, with the support of central agencies.

A large number of the indigenous African tribals had migrated to various parts of India centuries ago.

“We are trying to introduce standardised technology for seed production of two marine fish – Cobia and Pompano- at our Mandapam centre in Gujarat from this year,” said CMFRI Scientist-in-Charge, Veraval region, Mohammad Koya.

The initiative is aimed at boosting the financial status of the tribe members.

“Introduction of these two marine fish shall increase the quantity of produce and fetch better returns to the community,” Koya said, adding that another purpose behind this step is to introduce traditional fishermen to fish farming and thus reduce pressure on fishing.

Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture wherein fish are raised commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food

As per CMFRI estimates, breeding of around 500 cobia fish fetches approximately one tonne yield in 120 days.

“By introducing it through the small cooperative model of Siddi tribe, we want to demonstrate the model to the larger fishermen community of Gujarat,” he said.

Cobia (Rachycentron canadum), a high-end fish, is largely exported to the Middle East, US and European markets in the form fillets (a cut fish in frozen form).

The first harvest in April this year reaped a bumper crop to the community. From 20 cages provided to them by CMFRI, the community harvested around 2.5 tonne of lobsters generating around Rs 26 lakh for their cooperative.

“The open sea cage farming of lobsters has evolved to be a successful business model for us….Now we are looking to expand it further,” President of Bharat Adin Jyot Matsya Udyog Mandali, Hasan Musangara said.

“In the third year of open cage sea farming, beginning from October this year, we plan to rope in 22 families of the Siddi community,” Koya said.

“Also we are trying to make their business model a self-sustainable one by linking it to the schemes offered by Fisheries Development Board,” he said.

The CMFRI’s cage culture technology has been transferred to the Siddis while they work in the farm as partners/owners.

From this year, the tribe shall begin to partly bear the expenses incurred on sea cage farming, sources said.

Siddis, who originally belonged to Somalia in Africa, had migrated to Gujarat centuries ago and got settled in the jungles. One such group near Veraval was identified by CMFRI as beneficiaries under the TSP programme of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

A baseline survey conducted earlier had revealed that Siddis were living under BPL conditions and mainly working as labourers.

The open sea farming is one major source of fish production in many of the leading fish producing countries like Japan, China, South East Asian countries, Norway and others.

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