12th April, 2013, Somnath coast
Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR launched the harvest of lobsters from commercial sea cage farm established by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) for tribals under ICAR’s Tribal Sub Plan programme off Somanath coast, Gujarat. DG complimented the CMFRI staff led by Dr. G.Syda Rao, Director and Veravel staff for this illustrious cause of integrating technology for social benefit of tribal community and hoped for more initiation in this direction by several other ICAR Institutes. The tribals led by Mr. Hasin Bhai expressed their gratitude for ICAR and expressed that this is first Government agency that has helped for their upliftment in their history.
Dr. N.C. Patel VC of JAU, Junagad, Shri Darbar IAS, Commissioner of Fisheries, Gujarat, Dr. Madan Mohan, ADG (M.Fy.) and senior officials of ICAR participated in the programme along with several farmers, entrepreneurs and fishermen.
"Sidi” tribes of Gujarat originated from Somalia, Africa centuries back settled in the jungles of Gujrat.One such group near Veravel was identified by CMFRI as beneficiaries under the Tribal Sub Plan programme of ICAR. A baseline survey indicated that they were living under BPL conditions and working as labourers for diving, wielding etc.
CMFRI, Veravel Centre arranged for their training in sea cage culture at Karwar and Mandapam. A sea cage farm was established for their benefit under TSP off Somanath in the Arabian Sea with their whole hearted participation. The CMFRI’s cage culture technology was transferred to them while they were working in the farm as partners/owners. Twenty cages of 5m dia were installed in the sea at a depth of about 7 m facing Somanath temple.The tribal farmers were trained in collecting/obtaining the seed. As a first step they procured lobster seed that was coming as discard from trawlers operated in Gujarat. If not attended, the seed will die in few hours. These farmers saw that seed is secured live and stored in seawater pits for further transport to Somanath. Thus, this activity also helps to conserve these resources from destruction at the same time providing livelihood to them and increased food production to the country.
At the time of collection the seed weighed about 50-80 gr weight. They were stocked in 17 cages during December 2012/Jan 2013 and fed well with trash fish etc .All the day to day work like feeding, cleaning net, security etc were attended by the tribal group under the careful supervision of CMFRI, Veravel staff. In the process they were trained in the fabrication of cages, mooring, net handling, feeding and all other requirement for the cage farm management. This is the India’s largest commercial sea cage farm. Ultimately, they emerged as cage farming entrepreneurs.
After about 110 days the crop is ready for sale as an item of high valued live export. The total estimated production is about 2,500 kg which is being sold at a price of #Rs1200/kg valued about Rs. 26 lakhs. They will have the opportunity of raising one more crop after September 2013 and can get equal production in this year. Thus CMFRI/ICAR has empowered their permanent livelihood from hunger to an income of about Rs 15,000/ month for 20 families in this phase.
(Source: CMFRI, Cochin)