Meghalaya imports fish as demand outstrips supply

SHILLONG: The per capita availability of fish in the state has declined "as a result of the high population growth and stagnation in production". Meghalaya has registered the highest population growth rate in the country as per the latest census report. In fact, the internal demand for fish outweighs the supply, making the state import fish from Andhra Pradesh.

"It is disheartening to note that we are dependent on other states for fish," said chief secretary WMS Pariat. He added that the state government is now looking to make the state self-sufficient in fresh water fish production and reduce its dependence on other states.

The stagnation in fish production has also resulted in declining contribution of the sector to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

"The share of the fisheries sector in the total agricultural GSDP is only 1.15 per cent as against 5.20 per cent at the national level. Its share in the overall GSDP is as low as 0.21 per cent while the corresponding proportion at the national level is four times higher," an official report pointed out.

The report added that the reason for "stagnation in fish production despite the expansion of area under fish ponds by 500 hectares is not clear". According to the 61st round of the National Sample Survey, per capita consumption of fish in Meghalaya is approximately 6.425 kg as against 7.096 kg at the national level with the total consumption in the state estimated at 19,000 MT. The gap between the demand and supply is over 15,000 MT.

"Given the wide gap between demand and supply, the development of the fishery sector is a priority of the state government in order to exploit the full potential of the sector, which will help increase the supply as well as ensure economic prosperity and livelihood security of the rural poor in the state," said an official of the Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission.