Fishing for riches: this entrepreneur from Assam is boosting aquaculture
India’s aquaculture industry is one of the largest in the world, experts say. While you might be tempted to look at those who run the business when it comes to relevance to the international fish market, the real MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) behind this impressive statistic are local farmers. The locals have long been the backbone of fish farming in India and if the industry is to make more progress, this is where attention needs to be paid; there must be a total overhaul of all methods and mechanisms from production to distribution of fish.
One entrepreneur who bridges the gap for these local fish farmers is Morigaon-based Razaqul Islam, founder of Aqua Blue Global Aquaculture Solutions. Like many other modern companies, the introduction of scientific methods in all types of farming is at the heart of the existence of Aqua Blue Global Aquaculture Solutions. Their overall goal is to increase productivity by 100% and, therefore, improve its economic benefits.
India ranks third for fish production and second for aquaculture. Fishing alone employed 145 million people and contributed 1.07% of GDP and generated export earnings of 334.41 billion rupees according to a recent estimate by the National Fisheries Development Board. The National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy has indicated that the projected demand will increase to 11.80 million metric tons by fiscal year 21. However, Razaqul says these sectors are very poorly organized in the northern region. East of India, which is why Assam and its neighboring states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh import frozen fish from other parts of India.
“Growing up, I observed first-hand a great potential for progress in the aquaculture sector in Assam, which will open up employment and growth opportunities for our local farmers and fishermen. Thus, I wanted to present to farmers a scientific fish culture that will promote rapid growth in production volume and economic output. We teach and encourage them to practice modern intensive fish farming, which includes designing the production unit, studying the production environment and its natural fluctuations, and understanding stressors such as pollutants, pathogens and parasites, etc. The idea was also to support the ‘vocal for local’ campaign while unveiling future opportunities for aquaculture in Assam, ”he said.
So far, local farmers have struggled to produce and distribute their produce – working tirelessly to grow fish, all for small profits. But not anymore! With the modern solutions introduced by Aqua Blue Global, fish farming has become simpler and more profitable, and farmers can now achieve good returns equal to the effort they put in.
Most farmers are farming the old-fashioned way and convincing them to switch to these modern solutions can be a bit difficult. To do this, the company had to explain in detail the business model and how the simpler model is more economically advantageous for them.
“The most worrying problem is the low literacy rate of local farmers. It is quite complicated to make them understand the scientific techniques of fish farming. However, our team constantly strives to deliver the required knowledge in the simplest version possible. We provide farmers with improved quality fish seeds, fish feed and aquatic medicines at very reasonable prices. Plus, we provide end-to-end support, from breastfeeding to harvest, and help them find a cheaper market where they can sell their fish. We have set up model fisheries in almost all districts of Assam so that farmers can come and see how they can benefit from scientific agriculture which includes semi-intensive and intensive aquaculture systems, ”Razaqul adds.
Razaqul put everything on the line for the farmers who continued to suffer because of their strict adherence to archaic methods. It is this deep respect for high-end customer service that gave birth to the idea of an aqua solution startup. Today there are several entrepreneurs who also claim to have the solution to the problems that local farmers face. The difference that Aqua Blue Global Aquaculture brings to the table – compared to other companies – is of genuine interest and concern to people with real lives and real problems.
Aqua Blue Global, headquartered in Jagiroad, Morigaon, offers services throughout Assam and also covers other northeastern states of India like Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura. Their vision is to create a ‘One shop-One stop’ solution model so that farmers do not need to be at a loss when finding their inputs. Aqua Blue Global, which started with an investment of Rs 30 lakhs, achieved a turnover of Rs 6.5 crore in the last fiscal year. Currently, they own around 30 hectares of fisheries.
The innovative entrepreneur thinks the difference is obvious in the fact that he is not looking to make a quick buck, but cares about improving his services and the lives of the locals. “Yes, last year was an important year for aqua solutions startups. We have seen so many new aquatic solutions startups emerging in the market. We always welcome companies with a similar vision to collaborate with us. Startups such as Jolkuwori, incubated by IIMCP, Mahabahu Fisheries, Assam Fisheries, Ayat Fisheries and many more have collaborated with us to plan and implement better programs for fish farmers. I firmly believe that the mutual sharing of ideas helps to plan growth strategies for the future and at the same time stimulates networking with people from all possible regions, ”he said.
A mantra the company wholeheartedly follows is to keep customers satisfied with good service.
“For us, customer satisfaction comes first. It is the spirit that has helped us win so many loyal customers from across the North East region. Over ten thousand farmers partnered with us last year and were able to derive more benefits than in previous years from their business, ”said Razaqul.
While there have been many challenges along the line that may have directly tested their determination and dedication to making an impact on the lives of farmers and the market as a whole, Razaqul says these challenges did not. not deterred in its struggle for the sustainability of agriculture. Its impact can be measured by studying the level of growth it has been able to achieve. “We are focusing on two different aspects of growth. The first is to provide an appropriate knowledge base and teaching techniques for fish farming rather than cash support. The second is to generate employment.
“Today people run behind corporate jobs without even considering the opportunities in agriculture. Our aim is to open the door to opportunities for young people to get into farming on their own, a way in which we can provide employment for many people, ”he adds.
Despite the many remarkable accomplishments of all these years, Aqua Blue Global plans to go even further in every part of its business by creating more specialized units focused on solving the problems they face. For Razaqul, the goal is to create an online platform for farmers to interact and share ideas on how to take the industry to greater heights. “I am more than happy to report that we are launching an online ecosystem very soon exclusively for fish farmers, aquapreneurs and aqua traders in India. I am convinced that this will be a revolutionary step in the water business sector. We have also recently implemented a modern technology known as Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) under Aqua Blue Global Aquaculture Solutions Private Limited in association with the Fisheries Department of the Government of Assam, ”he concludes. .
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