With its sound sweet water sources, Kalahandi district has a good potential for developing pisciculture. But it lags behind in harnessing those resources due to lack of interest among local entrepreneurs and support from bankers.
Presently, the total area of the ponds in the district stands at 5414.03 hectares, reservoir and minor irrigation projects (MIPs) in 8806.91 hectares and rivers and canals in 6565 hectares.
Though the district has a predominantly fish consuming population, the supply of fish is inadequate to meet its growing demand, forcing the local market to import it from Andhra Pradesh and coastal Odisha. The present per capita fish consumption is 11 kg in the district. Out of the annual requirement of 17.06 million tonne (MT), 9.636 MT are produced in the district and 4.06 MT are imported leaving a gap of 3.664 MT.
District Fisheries Official Sibaprasad Bhoi said the import can be stopped and gap bridged by increasing local production and there is a ample scope for it in the district. Similarly, there is a gap in demand and supply of fish seed.
There is a need for development of existing water bodies, creation of additional sources, establishment of new hatcheries, aqua shop, feed mills, supply of boat and net, post-harvest care and capital investment for large scale fish production.
It will not only meet the internal consumption but also export to other markets, Bhoi said.
The State Government has decided to release 17 lakh fish seeds in Indravati reservoir and utilise the reservoirs of minor irrigation projects for developing breeding farms of commercially potential species in a large scale.
Though the Government has launched several schemes to encourage pisciculture in the district, lack of support from banks in financing interested entrepreneurs has added to the problem. Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) has been formed to facilitate bank loans for this purpose, but it is yet to yield any result.
In 2013-14, total 128 cases amounting to `2.45 crore were sponsored to different banks by FFDA to cover 68,20 hectares. But only 11 cases were sanctioned funds by the banks.
Similarly, 177 cases were sponsored to banks to release `1.12 crore for short term credit to improve existing tanks but only 31 cases were granted credit amounting to `9.15 lakh.