GUWAHATI, April 11 - French development agency AFD (Agence Fran�aise de D�veloppement) has agreed in principle to provide an assistance of Rs 500 crore for development of the fishery sector in Assam, with special focus on conservation of indigenous species to preserve the biodiversity.
The project will also target providing sustainable livelihood to farmers without disturbing the biodiversity.
Official sources told The Assam Tribune that the country director of AFD was convinced at a presentation given by a State fishery department team and has in principle agreed to provide the assistance by September. The State had sought Rs 1,700 crore, and the AFD agreed in principle to provide Rs 500 crore in the first phase.
While the current fish production in the State is 300 kg per hectare per annum, the project targets to increase it by five-fold, up to 1,500 kg per hectare per annum in three years. The project will target 27,000 farmers. �We will have to prepare the DPR (detailed project report) and submit it before September. It will be an externally-aided project,� the sources said.
An important component of the project is to develop the derelict beels, especially those water bodies which have been encroached upon or heavily affected by siltation. Dredging would be done and aquatic weeds removed to restore the water bodies.
�We will then go for production of small indigenous fishes in those beels and simultaneously start hatcheries. In the first phase, around 500 beels would be targeted,� the sources said.
Another component of the project would be capacity building of farmers and officials through introduction of new technology. Emphasis will also be on starting self-help groups and cooperatives among fishermen.
Currently, under various government schemes, around 3.60 lakh metric tonnes of fish are produced in the State annually. However, every month some 2,530 metric tonnes of fish are imported from other states to meet the demand here.