The factors that affect the rural poor in general are further exacerbated in marginal and remote areas where, land productivity is lower, availability of inputs and access to markets is poor to non-existent, cropping, horticultural and livestock raising techniques are unimproved due to isolation and constraints imposed by arid or mountainous conditions. Balochistan is a fit case for all these factors. It is geographically the largest province (almost 44% of landmass) but least populated (5% of national population). It is also the most under-developed due to low population densities, poor communication infrastructure, historically low investments in human development, and politico-tribal strains. However, it is a province of immense mineral, agriculture and marine riches with huge development potential.
Balochistan’s two coastal districts of Gwadar and Lasbela cover 760 km of the 1,100 km national coast line and have access to some of the richest fishing grounds containing tuna, mackerel, sardines, herrings, shrimps, squids and crabs. However, Balochistan contributes only one sixth of the national fisheries value added. The main reasons are low productivity along the entire value chain, policy/regulatory issues, lack of access to knowledge /capital /technology and poor supportive infrastructure ( jetties/landing sites, auction halls, ice availability and manipulated buyers market ). Most of the fishing fleet consists of small and dilapidated boats with limited endurance and capacity unable to reach richer fishing grounds. About 20% of the boats have deep sea fishing capacity. Low knowledge and awareness and abysmal onboard cold storage facilities coupled with poor/inappropriate fishing gear results in high wastage (in the range of 20% to 50%). A well entrenched informal and usurious financing system has many fishermen captive forcing them to sell their catch at lower prices to the lender (‘Mole System’). Harbour and auction halls are either missing or poorly operated and fail international health and safety standards. There are around 22 processing units in the region but mostly purchase catch at rock-bottom rates, lack modern preservation and packaging techniques and export to low end markets.