Seafood exports Riding high tide
Long coastline, brackish water resources and some enterprising business leaders have made the seafood industry in Odisha a major exporting state in the country. Now with ports in the state offering reefer container service, the industry is up for some exc
Long coastline, brackish water resources and some enterprising business leaders have made the seafood industry in Odisha a major exporting state in the country. Now with ports in the state offering reefer container service, the industry is up for some exciting times ahead.
Way back in 1980s some young entrepreneurs could foresee the potential of seafood exports from Odisha and took the risk of venturing into the unchartered territory. And the rest is history as now Odisha is one of the largest exporters of marine food to the world. Some of the seafood exporters from the state top the list of largest exporters in the country, and also supply private labels to multinational retail giants Walmart and Costco, and are also trusted supply partners to upscale American restaurant chains like
Red Lobsters, Legal Sea Foods, and Golden Seafood, to name a few.
In the initial days, one of the largest brackish water lagoons in the world, the Chilika Lake was the major source of premium black tiger prawn. But later as the demand grew, aquaculture took over and breeding of prawns in captive caught pace. Now about 4,18,000 hectares of brackish water resources in various coastal districts produce marine food for export markets. Currently, Odisha exports about 1,400 reefer containers to the world lead by the US (1,062), Vietnam (229), Canada (49), Japan (23), and Italy (9).
According to Tara Ranjan Patnaik, Chairman, Falcon Marine Exports, Odisha has one of the best fishery policies in the country but the implementation was painfully slow. Fish farming should be treated as an agriculture activity so that the farmers can avail benefits. The sector comes under multiple departments, hence the government should set up a single point of contact or put everything under the Department of Agriculture to expedite resolution of various issues. Running a farm using diesel generators adds up to `30-40/kg to production cost, which is not calculated while giving duty drawbacks.
The trade in the region opines that shipping lines charge `2.3-2.4 lakh per reefer container and exporters in the region have to bear additional cost of about `1.3-1.4 lakh as compared to counterparts in neighbouring states due to long-haul of reefer containers from production centres to the port in the neighbouring states. Due to this, exporters struggle to remain competitive as it puts pressure on their operating costs.
Global consumption of seafood has increased from 114.9 million tonnes in 2006 to 135.6 million tonnes in 2012, and the demand is likely to touch 160.5 million tonnes by 2022. Despite the vibrant marine food industry, the ports in the state for long have shied away from offering fullscale reefer container service. Hence, the exporters had to depend on ports in the neighbouring states. But of late the state government has realised the potential of the sector and its contribution to the economy, as a result a Seafood Park spread over 150 acres has been initiated at Deras, located on the outskirts of the state capital. Among the major companies which have already committed investments for setting up units at the seafood park are Falcon Marine Exports, Magnum Seafoods, Utkal Exports and Vizag-based Coastal Corporation. Falcon Marine Exports will set up the largest sea food processing unit with a capacity of 37,000 MTPA of sea food. Paradip Port with the support of Concor has recently started offering rail siding for container movement, and the port is soon going to start operation of a container terminal as well. According to the Fishery Survey in India, the fisheries potential of Odisha is 513,667 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). Additionally, Odisha’s proximity to South-east Asian markets and increasing demand in Japan and Europe will further aid the development of sea food sector in the state.