This issue brings an exclusive e-interview of Shri K S Srinivas, Chairman, MPEDA where he discusses about Indian aquaculture industry, what does the body envisage for value-added product market, what are they doing to build brand image of India shrimp in global market and much more. Read the excerpts below.
Would you please share with our readers the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian Aquaculture industry?
The Shrimp Production was not affected significantly during 2019-20 as the COVID 19 crisis hit the sector by the mid of March. During the year 2019-20, the aquaculture sector recorded an increase of 14.43% in area utilization, however the increase in shrimp production was a meager 2.88% compared to the previous year.
Impact on Production
During the pandemic period Aquaculture sector has faced issues related to Labour as migrant labours returned to their native states/villages; Feed related issue as the prices have gone up due to lack of raw materials for feed manufacture and movement of feed was also restricted; Fuel shortage – shortage of diesel in gensets for running pumps and aerators; Shortage of seed due to lack of skilled labour and movement restrictions; Reduced intake by processing plants. Due to shortage in labour and uncertainty about the international market led to lower procurement from farmers by exporters; Panic harvest due to uncertainty and shortage of feed and diesel farmers resorted to panic harvest during the initial months of the 2020 and Low price for product. Due to panic harvesting, reduced demand from exporters, lack of adequate storage facilities and uncertainty of markets the prices fell during the first half of 2020.
Impact on Shrimp Hatchery
Due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, the hatcheries in various stages of production were forced to stop its operation and the stocks were terminated anticipating poor demand. Major issues faced by Hatchery sector included reduced demand for seed due to cancellations of seed bookings and postponement of pond stocking and there were some issues in importing SPF brood as the reservation made by hatcheries for the import of about 7600 Vannamei broodstock were cancelled during the lockdown period along with the cancellation of two Monodon broodstock shipments and one SPF PL shipment.
Interventions made for sustaining the sector
MPEDA in coordination with the Central and State Government made efforts to build confidence among the farmers and provide them both forward and backward linkages. Several coordination meetings with state government officials, farmers, and exporters were held to mitigate the crisis and support the farmers in getting fair prices for their produce.
Actions taken by MPEDA include building confidence among the farmers by requesting them not to panic by desisting from rumours and suggesting to continue farming with available resources. Several interventions were done for the easy movement of processed material from factory to port and from port to the importing countries. Interventions were also made to address the labour issues, availability of raw material and packing material for the processing plants for continuous operation. The Quality Control labs of MPEDA have taken swift measures to issue PHT certificates for enabling export of shrimp to the EU market.
The AQF operated by RGCA for quarantine of imported broodstock opened up the cubicle from May 2020 and the hatcheries were able to import the brood stock without hindrance and the total brood stock imported during 2020-21 was much higher than the previous year.
In an interview, you stated a decline of 40% in seafood exports to China in April-December of FY21. So is the case with other markets. What is the response of MPEDA to this situation?
The Market wise export provisional data in USD term from April to December 2020 showed a decline of 36.35% exports to China, 5.26% to Japan, 10.94% to USA, 12.95% to EU, 15.28% to South East Asia, 20.29% to Middle East and 11.70% to other countries. The actual export status will be arrived once the export figures for the year are compiled.
What are export promotion measures taken by MPEDA to gain new export destinations?
Shrimp is the main stake of Indian marine products exports contributing 73% in value of total exports and Cultured shrimps contribute 90% in value of total shrimp exports.
India is exporting aquacultured products to almost 76 countries among the total 113 countries that consume Indian marine products. The top ten countries that purchase 95% of cultured marine products are USA, China, Japan, Vietnam, Canada, UAE, UK, Belgium, Netherlands & Russia.
Shrimp being a premium product is been preferred by the developed and developing economies and efforts are being made to build the brand image of Indian shrimp across the nations through international TV commercials, print or digital media, social media handles of MPEDA and by organising virtual webinars & buyer seller meets with importers in countries other than top ten aquaculture products importing nations for promoting the shrimp exports.
India is the top producer and exporter of shrimp in the world. But smaller countries like Vietnam and Indonesia are exporting value-added products, do you think India should also start focusing more on value-added products exports?
Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia etc., have expertise in value addition and are considered to be the hub for value addition in the world. India has been the one of the largest producers and exporters for Aquaculture Shrimps, but the percentage for value addition in the overall exports is only 6%. Most of the Seafood exports from India are happening in the raw form, which has less risk and is easy for sending huge volumes. Although the unit value realization from these raw products is less, the bulk exports will ensure more turnovers.
MPEDA has been promoting value addition in the seafood sector through its schemes and training program. MPEDA schemes promote investment in infrastructure development for value addition. Training programs are conducted in collaboration with Indian Fisheries Research Institutes like ICAR CIFT and by utilizing external expertise from Thailand and Vietnam.
With the efforts it is envisaged to increase the exports of value-added seafood products from MPEDA from the current 6% to 12% within a span of 5 years.
Pradhan Mantri Matasaya Yojna (PMMY) aims to bring blue revolution in the country. Please share your thoughts on how the scheme helps in doubling aqua farmer income?
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India launched the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) on 10th September 2020 to “transform” the fisheries sector and add strength to the efforts of building an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. The PMMSY is a flagship scheme for focused and sustainable development of the fisheries sector in the country with an estimated investment of Rs 20,050 crore comprising Central share of Rs 9,407 crore, State share of Rs 4,880 crore and Beneficiaries contribution of Rs 5,763 crore. PMMSY will be implemented over a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024- 25 in all States/Union Territories. This is the highest ever investment in the fisheries sector that will result in doubling export earnings to Rs 1,00,000 crore and generate about 55 lakhs direct and indirect employment opportunities in the fisheries sector over a period of next five years. The scheme is aiming to support farmers with various assistance and hence it is envisaged that the scheme will help in doubling the income of farmers.
New start-ups with investors are making huge investments in branding to attract Indian consumers. How can the government support the Indian fisheries sector in marketing?
MPEDA has the objective of brand promotion of Indian seafood in overseas markets through various promotional campaigns utilizing the service of the Indian missions and trade promotion offices, wherever available. The outreach plan to promote Indian Fisheries shall encompass the following five strategies to be followed under the Market Promotion activities.
1. Participation in international seafood fairs.
2. Organizing Trade Delegations, Buyer Seller Meets (BSM), Reverse Buyer Seller Meets (RBSM), Road shows, Stakeholder consultation meetings etc.
3. Branding & Advertisement of Indian seafood in various markets through digital and print media.
4. Collecting advanced market intelligence by conducting Market Research studies.
5. Strengthening & expanding Trade Promotion Offices of MPEDA abroad.
The above-mentioned activities will promote the Indian Seafood brand in the overseas market, reach out to buyers and consumers alike by engaging with them, assess the market conditions in advance to provide market intelligence to the Indian exporters/producers and tackling major issues in the international market by negotiating with the importing authorities and overseas buyers.
What all services can be availed by the aqua farmers in Aqua One Centre (AOC) labs? How can a farmer enroll for the same?
“Aqua One Centers (AOCs)” established at strategic farming locations provide Aquaculture Support Service to the Fish Farmers, disseminate newer technologies and innovations and facilitate their wider adoption for the sector’s growth; AoC’s facilitate identification and mitigation of issues/ hurdles/ problems faced midway by hatcheries, seed growers and fish farmers at ground level and could also address new challenges while promoting adoption of improved fish varieties, technologies, processes, approaches, etc. AOCs will provide both technical and testing support services for the aquaculture industry.
Farmers can avail the services through the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) an outreach organization under MPEDA for uplifting the livelihood of small-scale shrimp farmers located at Kakinada