Shillong, June 27: The Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission has received nearly 40,000 applications from individual fish farmers across the state to partner with the state government in attaining self-sufficiency in fish production.
A majority of the applications, which were received from November 2011 till April this year, have come from West Garo Hills district, a senior state government official told this correspondent.
The district-wise break-up of the applications received includes South Garo Hills (2,997), East Khasi Hills (5,892), Ri Bhoi (7,202), West Khasi Hills (2,674), West Garo Hills (11,007), Jaintia Hills (3,061) and East Garo Hills (6,906).
As of now, the government is scrutinising the applications before finalising the beneficiaries under the mission, the official added.
The mission, which will be in place from 2012-17, has been further sub-divided into six other mini-missions, also intends to expand area under fish ponds by 10,000 hectares in five years, on the lands of one lakh farmers.
Those who will partner with the government for the mission will have to shell out 15 per cent of the total cost.
The remaining — 60 per cent and 25 per — cent will come in the form of financial grants, and credit from banks at a subsidised rate of interest, respectively.
Moreover, under the mission, funds amounting to Rs 37 crore have been received under the Special Plan Assistance and value chain management (Planning Commission’s assistance).
“We intend to use the funds to construct around 6,000 fish ponds this year itself. For the balance applications, we will mobilise more funds to set up the individual ponds,” the official said.
Further, for the development and construction of five hatcheries, 40 applications have been received so far from across the state.
The hatcheries will be constructed according to the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) norms at an estimated cost of Rs 16 lakh each.
For construction of these hatcheries, the same financial formula, which has been applied for the construction of the individual fish ponds, would be pertinent.
“In case most of the applications were found to be good, then we might as well increase the number of hatcheries,” the official said.
Moreover, around 70 hatcheries on a small scale would be developed in the remote areas using fibre reinforced plastic technology.
The cost of each of these hatcheries would be around Rs 2.5 lakh.
Five feed mills, which will produce around 300kg of fish feed per day, would be developed in the next two years.
Official estimates indicate that while the annual fish consumption in the state is around 11,000 metric tonnes, Meghalaya can produce only 5,000 metric tonnes.
However, this ambitious programme, which is one of the nine missions under the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Programme, intends to produce 15,000 metric tonnes of fish in five years.