Investment to boost aqua entrepreneurship in Assam

Twenty-one selected aqua entrepreneurs, including 12 women from remote villages in Assam
Investment to boost aqua entrepreneurship in Assam

GUWAHATI: Twenty-one selected aqua entrepreneurs, including 12 women from remote villages in Assam, pitched their comprehensive business plans in four groups at the state-level investment evening programme as part of the Aqua Entrepreneurship Initiative supported under Indo-German Development Cooperation.

The aqua entrepreneurs were selected out of 1,000 applicants from Kamrup, Nalbari, Karbi Anglong East, Nagaon, Udalguri, Bishwanath, and Sonitpur districts. The aspiring entrepreneurs proposed their investment plans to representatives from the Department of Fisheries (DoF), Assam, NFDB, NABARD, Fishfed, APART (Fishery), College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara, College of Fisheries, Raha, NEDFi, Rang De, CIFRI, FPOs, FPCs, Agri-credit Processing Cell, World Fish, KVK Nagaon, and other potential investors in the final step of an intensively mentored development process over 1.5 years designed by German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and executed by Kalong Kapili. The aqua entrepreneurs have laid the groundwork for creating new income sources, businesses, and employment opportunities.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), along with implementing partners the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy (MoFAHD) and DoF Assam and Odisha, GIZ is implementing the Indo-German Development Cooperation project 'Sustainable Aquaculture for Food and Livelihood (SAFAL)' in Assam. As part of the Global Programme on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture implemented in seven countries under the umbrella of the BMZ Special Initiative "Transformation of Agriculture and Food Systems," the project aims to provide more fish products and higher income to the food-insecure population in India, Assam, and Odisha. This includes training farmers in resource conservation and efficient management techniques in sustainable aquaculture, as well as supporting aquaentrepreneurs through its partner organisations.

In Assam, the project on Sustainable Aquaculture for Food and Livelihood (SAFAL) is implemented in cooperation with the local non-government organisations Kalong Kapili, Seven Sisters Development Assistance (SeSTA), and Innovative Change Collaborative Services Private Limited (ICCSPL). For aquaentrepreneurs along the value chain, the SAFAL Aqua Entrepreneurship Initiative is expected to broaden their opportunities for accessing finances and increase the entrepreneurial culture in Assam. The initiative was carried out with a strategic design of identifying, guiding, and mentoring promising participants through May 2022 to February 2024 to foster their potential for business growth and success. Supported by Kalong Kapili, the selection process consisted of organising an awareness programme-cum-road show, screening tests, a pre-boot camp, a boot camp, and district pitching in the districts of Nagaon, Karbi Anglong (East), Biswanath, Sonitpur, Kamrup Rural, Nalbari, and Udalguri.

Four aquaentrepreneur groups pitched their strategies at the state-level investment evening after narrowing down through pre-boot camps, boot camps, and business plan development. Opening the event, Jyotish Talukdar, Director of Kalong Kapili, commented on the passion and commitment of the contestants and extended his heartfelt wishes for their pitches and future business development. Welcoming words from SAFAL were given by project leader Pratap Sinha, who emphasized that strengthened sustainable production and consumption as well as economic empowerment are important pillars of the Indo-German Green and Sustainable Development Partnership and Agroecology. Furthermore, he highlighted the key outcome of the entrepreneurship identification process. The chief guest of the programme, Nabin Roy, General Manager-cum-OIC, NABARD Regional Office, applauded all the aqua entrepreneurs for delivering their business ideas, and his speech mainly emphasised the further development of the aqua entrepreneurs and also assured opening a door of opportunities for the aqua entrepreneurs. An inspiring message and guidance on government schemes to support entrepreneurs were provided by Dr. Ramen Barman, Joint Director, DoF Assam.

Reiterating the core objective of the initiative to support small aqua entrepreneurs with innovative ideas by providing a platform and financial assistance led to providing the floor to the eagerly waiting entrepreneurs to present their current business ideas, plans, and funding strategies. Taking the lead, the Khayati Group of entrepreneurs explained their business model, emphasising their engagement in the production and sale of spawn, fingerlings, and fish, all within a cycle of one year.

Following, Debakanta Nath took the stage to present Jeevika's pitch. His primary focus was on the concept of integrated 'rice-cum-fish culture', interlinking agriculture with aquaculture. Birangana Group, representing women's empowerment, took the spotlight. Their pitch mainly focused on value-added fish products, especially fish pickles. Concluding the pitching session, Luitporia Group presented their business plan on 'Integrated Duck-Fish Culture'. Each presentation reflects the scope of diversified income and innovative ideas within aquaentrepreneurship.

The concluding open session allowed the potential investors to seek clarifications and share feedback with the aqua entrepreneurs to ensure a thorough understanding of the proposed business models. Finally, encouraging guidance for future financial assistance, convergence, and capacity-building support were addressed by panel and jury members from the Department of Fisheries, NEDFi, NABARD, the Collage of Fisheries, APART (Fishery), NFDB, the Agri Credit Processing Cell, and Rang De, a press release said.

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