Hyderabad: With the monsoon season on the horizon, the State government is gearing up to release a staggering 85.6 crore fishlings and an additional 10 crore shrimp seedlings into 26,357 water bodies spread across the region. Tenders have already been invited for the supply of fishlings and shrimp at a total estimated cost of Rs 107 crore under the fish distribution scheme for this fiscal.
Under this scheme, which is expected to speed up the Blue Revolution being spearheaded by the State, fishlings worth Rs 82.35 crore will be introduced into 26,357 water bodies, including reservoirs, tanks, and other aquatic habitats. Additionally, shrimp seedlings valued at Rs 24.6 crore will be introduced into 300 major water bodies for cultivation.
Telangana boasts of the country’s third largest inland water spread, covering an area of 5.73 lakh square km across various water bodies, including reservoirs.
In an effort to boost fish production and support the sustainable livelihoods of fishermen, the Telangana government initiated the distribution of free fish seedlings in approximately 11,067 water bodies during 2017-18. This resulted in the stocking of around 51.08 crore fish seedlings at a cost of Rs 44.6 crore, leading to a fish production of 2.62 lakh tonnes after a period of 8-10 months.
Since then, the number of fishlings and shrimp being released into water bodies, including reservoirs and tanks, has significantly increased. Presently, Telangana ranks fifth in terms of freshwater fish production, valued at an estimated Rs 6,100 crore in the year 2022-23. This represents a three-fold growth compared to the fish production worth Rs 1,993 crore recorded in 2017-18. Over the same period, prawn production has also experienced considerable growth, rising from 7.78 tonnes valued at Rs 171.23 crore in 2017-18 to 11,734 tonnes worth approximately Rs 425 crore in 2022-23.
Thanks to various intervention programmes implemented by the State government, both the average income levels of the Fishermen Cooperative Societies (FCS) and their members have seen significant increases. The number of FCSs has grown by 15 percent from 4,002 in 2016-17 to 4,604 in 2020-21, while membership has risen by eight percent during the same period, from 2.85 lakh in 2016-17 to 3.09 lakh in 2020-21.
The State government has recently invited applications to establish more FCSs, with total membership estimated to reach nearly four lakh fishermen.