The Kochi based ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology has been ranked fourth, among 93 ICAR institutes of India, for its performance in 2019-20 and 2020-21. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), an autonomous organization under the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, is one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world.
The work of CIFT has had manifold impacts on the fisheries sector. The Institute has been in the forefront of designing fishing vessels for the country and almost all existing trawlers are versions of basic designs provided by the Institute. A recent introduction has been a green, combination fishing vessel that considerably reduces fuel use. The design provided by the Institute under the PMMSY is now being adopted by various maritime states and 200 of them have already been fabricated by the Cochin Shipyard Ltd. for various state governments. Work has also extended to using non-conventional, renewable energy resources like solar, LNG and combination fuels. Attempts at resource conservation through suitably designed fishing nets that can exclude juvenile and other by-catch is another important area of work. The square-mesh cod-end designed by the Institute as recommendations on mesh size regulations are included in several state marine fisheries regulation Acts. The artisanal small scale sector has also been supported by more durable FRP boats and coracles that are distributed through flagship projects of the Institute to beneficiaries.
The Institute’s efforts at value addition of fish are directly augmented by building capacities, especially of women, who can start small enterprises. Several traditional and innovative fish based products are today available in the domestic market as well as exported. The institute has been working on sustainable, active and intelligent packaging systems for fish and fishery products that have other food applications as well. CIFT also develops high value products from fishery waste including flavours, additives, nutritional substitutes, extracts, pigments and feeds. Dryers developed by the CIFT are now widely used by small and medium entrepreneurs who are ably supported by training through the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Centre at the Institute. The ABI also supports other fisheries start-ups by providing technical assistance and back-up through their incubation period.
The formalin and ammonia detection kit developed by the Institute is widely used for monitoring the fresh fish that is traded in the domestic markets across states. The seafood export sector also benefits from CIFT through technical advice and training of seafood processing technologists. CIFT also makes significant contribution as part of the Assessment Panel of Exports constituted by the Export Inspection Council, Government of India to do assess the export worthiness of all the seafood export units in India, which assesses the seafood factories all over the country and certifies the export worthiness. The Institute is the only mandated agency in the country to develop of quality systems for safe fish from production to consumption including standards, processes and protocols for ensuring and monitoring product quality and safety. It continues to develop standards for FSSAI at the National and Codex at the International levels. CIFT actively engages with all its stakeholders and is proactive in technology transfer through flagship government programmes.