Govt to announce fish policy soon: Minister

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 16 (APP):Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehmood Sultan Wednesday said the government would soon announce a fish policy to promote aquaculture and fish farming in the country.

Inaugurating Cage-Fish Farming Center in Chakwal, he said the policy envisaged 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 sufficient water resources were available in the country 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 added.

It would help the country exploit world market, as there was around 20 kilogram annual per head fish consumption in the world, he said, adding the government was 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 Prime Minister Pakistan to promote agriculture sector, he added.

He said the government had initiated three big projects, including farming of Jinga fish, cage farming and trout fish farming in Northern Areas. With the establishment of small fish farms in Potohar region, the overall fish output would increase, he added.

In addition to catering to the domestic needs, he said the fish production would help the country earn foreign exchange by exporting the surplus yield.

The minister said through the project employment, feed mills, farmers and processing plants would benefit. During the first week of November, a meeting would be arranged on value chain to make this business more viable and profitable, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen said when the incumbent government came into the 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 added.

He said the fish farming was emerging as an industry in the country and was creating employment opportunities for the people.