Tata Trusts’ Open Source Fisheries Programme Helps Improve Livelihood and Expand and Develop Inland Fish Farming

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India, October 8, 2020: Open Source Fisheries (OSF), a Tata Trusts initiative to help expand and improve inland fish farming and adopt culture fisheries practices to enhance productivity, is being run across four States –  Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tripura and Jharkhand in 1240 villages over 19 districts, and has positively impacted over 35,000 households. The programme will essentially help India achieve a better aquatic balance and assist in increasing the incomes of 150,000 families in India in the next five years.

The programme focuses on training the communities to breed and rear fish spawn into fingerlings through fairly simple techniques. In FY 19-20, more than 1200 fish nurseries have been supported in an entrepreneurship model, producing 4.6 crore fingerlings. The pond-based integrated livelihoods model has been adopted by more than 1000 farmers in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, engaging in fisheries with duckery, bund plantation (fruits, vegetables, pulses) and poultry. Five Self-Help Groups have been established and trained in Jharkhand and Maharashtra to support allied activities like feed production and net-making. The OSF intervention has thus led to an annual incremental income of Rs 25,000 per household through fisheries and increased their productivity by almost three times.

OSF has been designed to reduce distress migration by providing an additional source of livelihood to the farmers, support the nutritional requirements of the region, as well as help meet the fish demands of States which are currently being fulfilled through imports. Despite being a fairly young programme, the initiative has shown a good track record in its first phase, achieving more than 85 per cent of its expected outcome.

“There is tremendous potential for growth in India’s fisheries sector. However, in order to unlock this potential, it is necessary to empower fishers and the fishing communities to adopt sustainable culture fishing practices which will also essentially improve livelihoods of the communities,” said Shashwati Bhunia, Fisheries Theme Lead at Tata Trusts.

The OSF programme is a joint collaboration of Tata Trusts, State Governments and NGOs, and focuses on the necessary shift of knowledge from traditional practices to those of culture fishing. With the aim to develop the required local ecosystem to support and sustain the practices and communities in the long term. The OSF intervention also drives standardization of Package of Practices (PoP) covering the entire fisheries value chain, from breeding, to seed production, seed rearing, marketing, as well as the development of the ecosystem through fishery allied activities, all anchored through strong community institutions.