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

Maritime Gateway - - Contents - Sisir Prad­han

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.

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