The federal government will soon announce a fish policy to promote aquaculture and fish farming in Pakistan, according to Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Muhammad Mehmood Sultan.
Inaugurating Cage-Fish Farming Centre in Chakwal, he said that the policy envisaged the provision of technical and other assistance to the farmers to promote fish farming, which would boost exports and help earn foreign exchange.
The minister said that sufficient water resources are available to boost fish production for local consumption as well as for export purposes. At a time when cage fish farming was gaining popularity across the world, Pakistan could utilize its water resources, including rivers, lakes and ponds to promote aquaculture, he said.
It would help Pakistan to exploit the world market, as there is around 20 kilogram annual per head fish consumption in the world, he said, adding that the government is providing 80 percent subsidy on the establishment of cage fish farms.
He lamented that previous governments had not paid any attention towards the lucrative farming sector. Now, the Food Ministry had been working in accordance with the vision of the prime minister to promote agriculture sector, he said.
Mehmood Sultan said that the government had initiated three big projects, including the farming of Jinga fish, cage farming and trout fish farming in the country’s northern areas. With the establishment of small fish farms in the Potohar region, the overall fish output would increase, he said.
In addition to catering to domestic needs, he said that the fish production would help the country earn foreign exchange by exporting the surplus yield. Through the projected employment, he said that the feed mills, farmers and processing plants would benefit.
During the first week of November, a meeting would be arranged on the value chain to make this business more viable and profitable, he said. Speaking on the occasion, former minister Jahangir Tareen said that when the government came into power, the Fisheries Department of Punjab was almost closed down.
When the prime minister’s attention was invited towards the issue, he appreciated the move and allocated Rs13 billion for launching projects for fish farming, he said. He also said that fish farming is emerging as an industry and is creating employment opportunities for the people.