Kochi: Kerala must use its sprawling Kole fields as prawn farms, considering that these wetlands lie submerged under water half a year, the Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) suggested at an investment meet today.

Such an initiative will work effectively in the coastal state that is endowed with water bodies and enjoys high domestic demand for prawns, MPEDA Chairman K S Srinivas noted here at ASCEND Kerala 2019 that aims to showcase Kerala as a top-notch investment destination.

The state also has a strong segment of labourers with high technical expertise in prawn cultivation, he pointed out at a session titled ‘Opportunities in the MSME and Food Processing Sectors’ of the day-long event organised by the Kerala government’s Department of Industries and Commerce, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation, Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion and Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation.

For better pisciculture, Kerala must emulate Andhra Pradesh by implementing a law that forbids use of antibiotics, the MPEDA chief said. Kerala’s fishing harbours warrant better infrastructure and such developmental projects can be carried out on PPP or BOT basis, he added.

The other speakers at the session, moderated by Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation chairman Dr Christy Fernandez, were Ram Mohan Mishra, Additional Secretary & Development Commissioner, Government of India, Minhaj Alam, Joint Secretary, Food Processing, Government of India, and Cochin Port Trust (CPT) Chairperson Dr M Beena.

Dr Beena said the CPT has been giving impetus to food-processing, by allotting 20 acres in the harbour for developing it as a food district.

Mishra called for coordinated functioning between central and state governments along with private sector for enhanced growth of the MSME sector.

Alam noted that two mega food parks the Centre has allotted for Kerala will prove critical in the growth of the state’s small-scale industry.

By Manoj

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