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As a follow-up of the publication on Rural Aquaculture: Overview and framework for country reviews - RAP Publication 1997/36, efforts have been made to review rural aquaculture in some of the major aquacultural countries in Asia and the Pacific region. Rural Aquaculture in the Philippines was the first publication under this new series, and this is the second. It is expected that similar publications on other countries such as China, Bangladesh, etc. would follow.

India, a vast country with an area of 3.3 million sq km and a population of about 1 billion people is endowed with rich freshwater, brackishwater and marine resources. The country produces about 5 million mt of fish of which total aquaculture production is about 1.6 million mt. Aquaculture production has increased three times during the last ten years. Although aquaculture has made very good progress in the last five decades, it is still a very small sub-sector of agriculture. Considering the country’s vast potential for aquaculture (both freshwater and coastal), the recent achievements in R&D on various aspects of aquaculture, and the public and private interest in the sub-sector, the future of aquaculture as an economic activity is promising. A Ten-Year Brackishwater Shrimp Farming Development Plan with the aim of developing 0.1 million ha of shrimp farms has been prepared. Similarly, a Five-Year National Freshwater Aquaculture Development Plan has been developed with a view to doubling the freshwater aquaculture production to about 3 million metric tons.

Most of the aquaculture activities in India could be regarded as rural aquaculture as defined by Edwards and Demaine. Freshwater aquaculture in village tanks and ponds follow the improved traditional or semi-intensive composite culture/polyculture system and they serve the household needs for fish and generate some additional income for the family. Only in recent years, commercial pond fish culture have become very successful in the States of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, etc. In brackishwater aquaculture more than half of the total area (100,000 ha) under shrimp culture is made up of small farms following the traditional/improved traditional/extensive system of culture and as such they are considered as rural aquaculture.

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