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New initiative revives Kerala's ornamental fish sector

Husbandry Open farming systems Marketing +12 more

Kerala Aqua Ventures International Limited (KAVIL) has hosted multiple buyer-seller meets, startup training sessions and effective marketing strategy sessions for the local ornamental aquaculture sector - helping it rebound from Covid-19.

KAVIL has hosted multiple initiatives like buyer-seller meets and startup training

KAVIL facilitated a buyer-seller meet that connected wholesale traders in the sector from across India to ornamental fish farmers in the state.

Over 500 start-up units in the ornamental fish sector are on a course of revival after suffering heavy losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to efforts of the Kerala Aqua Ventures International Limited (KAVIL), an undertaking from government of Kerala. According to a news release, KAVIL hosted multiple initiatives like buyer-seller meets, startup training and effective marketing strategies with the Department of Fisheries. They estimate that the initiatives helped support hundreds of families in sustaining their livelihoods and improving their incomes.

The buyer-seller meet played a major role in streamlining the market avenues and connecting wholesale traders in the sector from across the country to the ornamental fish farmers in the state.

The meets, being conducted every Monday, yielded good results. Potential buyers turned up to buy fish from the farmers associated with KAVIL. “Over the last two years, the event has generated a business worth around Rs. 72 lakhs [approx $87,000],” said M S Saju, managing director of the KAVIL and joint director of the Department of Fisheries. “Each session of the event in a week from 9 am to 12 pm witnesses a business of up to Rs. 2 lakhs [$2,400], turning the ornamental fisheries into a lucrative source of income for farmers,” he said.

“The buyer-seller meet has become a game-changer in the sector as the platform is becoming increasingly popular among farmers and traders, witnessing increased dealings in recent months. We are taking measures to attract wholesale giants in the industry into KAVIL, aiming to do a business of Rs. 5 crores [approx $605,000] annually by 2025 through this platform and make the state a hub of ornamental fisheries in the country,” Saju said. Additionally, it launched a newly-designed website ( with an e-commerce facility to further boost the sales of ornamental fishes.

As a government nodal agency to improve ornamental fisheries in the state, KAVIL provided intensive training that paved the way for the increased number of startup units in the ornamental sector. These units now produce quality ornamental varieties and reach targeted consumers. The body also acts as a facilitator by ensuring a reasonable price for farmers by avoiding middlemen.

Discus farmed in Kerala

KAVIL provided intensive training that paved the way for the increased number of startup units in the ornamental sector.

The news release explains that ornamentals from Kerala are known for good quality and health and varieties such as koi carp, oscar, angelfish, cichlid, tetra and morphs in varied colours are the most demanding fishes produced by the farmers.

Large-scale production

Dr Mini Sekharan, the marketing consultant of KAVIL and associate professor in school of industrial fisheries at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) said: “The lack of large-scale production for consistent supply to domestic and international markets and proper marketing strategies hindered the growth of a highly prospective industry in Kerala in the past. India is a country with huge domestic market potential which can be explored well with enhanced production and marketing.”

A series of startup training and advanced training would help the farmers enhance technical skills for large-scale production to respond to the demands, she added. KAVIL will organise an advanced training on the technology of large-scale breeding of market-demanded ornamental fishes on 24 and 25 March. Global experts in the field, Kapila Tissera from Sri Lanka and Sriram Hatwalne from Mumbai will lead the training sessions.

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