Shrimp farm­ers hold­ing back sec­ond crop on dis­ease, over­seas de­mand wor­ries

Prices are stag­nant glob­ally, as over­all out­put is in­creas­ing, rais­ing fears of a glut

The Hindu Business Line - - COMMODITIES - V SAJEEV KU­MAR

Sub­dued over­seas de­mand cou­pled with dis­ease out­break such as white fae­ces syn­drome and EHP (pathogen) could pull down shrimp pro­duc­tion by 15-20 per cent in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try play­ers.

Given the sce­nario, farm­ers are hes­i­tant to stock their ponds and the area cur­rently un­der farm­ing for the sec­ond crop is down. The stock­ing is ex­pected to pick up from Jan­uary. Last year, do­mes­tic shrimp pro­duc­tion was 6.5 lakh tonnes (lt), said D Ram­raj, Pres­i­dent of All In­dia Shrimp Hatcheries As­so­ci­a­tion (AISHA).

De­spite the ex­pected dip in out­put, shrimp prices have re­mained steady with far­m­gate price of 30 count shrimp at ₹420/kg and 100 count at ₹210/kg. Over­all, farm­ers are ap­proach­ing the sec­ond crop cau­tiously due to per­ceived risks. “Be­ing a cooler sea­son, the out­put is ex­pected to be lower,” Ram­raj told Busi­nessLine.

Shrimp has been a ma­jor item in the coun­try's seafood ex­port bas­ket, help­ing In­dia emerge the world's largest shrimp ex­porter. Ma­rine Prod­ucts Ex­port De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (MPEDA’s) pro­vi­sional fig­ures re­veal that ma­rine prod­ucts ex­ports dur­ing AprilSeptem­ber this year has reg­is­tered a 6.35 per cent growth in quan­tity and 5.8 per cent in ru­pee value. How­ever, earn­ings in dol­lars de­clined by 2.7 per cent. In­dia, in the last fis­cal, ex­ported 13.77 lt of seafood val­ued at $ 7.8 bil­lion..

Shrimp con­tin­ued to be the ma­jor item ac­count­ing for 41.10 per cent share in quan­tity. The US is the largest mar­ket for frozen shrimps (2.25 lt) fol­lowed by South East Asia (1.59 lt), EU (78,426 tonnes), Ja­pan (33,828 tonnes), West Asia (23,441 tonnes) and China (13,107 tonnes).

Sub­dued de­mand

Ac­cord­ing to Alex K Ni­nan, Pres­i­dent of Seafood Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia – Ker­ala Re­gion, Christ­mas sea­son de­mand was over but the sales were not as ex­pected from the over­seas mar­kets. “There has been a 7 per cent drop in dol­lar terms. The EU mar­ket was shaky due to an­tibi­otic is­sues and the As­so­ci­a­tion has de­cided to take it up with the Com­merce Min­istry,” he added. To con­form to the EU and USFDA stan­dards, Ram­raj said the in­dus­try and the MPEDA have come to­gether to elim­i­nate an­tibi­otics in ex­port shrimp. As a first step, So­ci­ety of Aqua­cul­ture Pro­fes­sion­als (SAP) in as­so­ci­a­tion with AISHA and MPEDA con­ducted a se­ries of aware­ness cam­paigns at Chen­nai, On­gole and Kak­i­nada.

Over 500 shrimp hatcheries were ap­praised of the dan­gers of us­ing an­tibi­otics and the op­tion of al­ter­na­tive ther­a­peu­tics were high­lighted. MPEDA, he said, will fol­low up with in­ten­sive mon­i­tor­ing for residues in hatch­ery pro­duced seed to act as a de­ter­rent and in­tro­duce vol­un­tary cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an­tibi­otic residue free seeds. This has been planned to be taken up in as­so­ci­a­tion with the hatch­ery fra­ter­nity.

“Given the qual­ity of shrimps, In­dia has emerged as the big­gest player in shrimp ex­ports and no coun­try can match our fresh­ness. The US has now re­alised it and they can­not go with­out In­dian shrimps”, a lead­ing seafood ex­porter in Kochi told Busi­ness Line. How­ever, the prices world­wide are stag­nant as sev­eral coun­tries have taken up shrimp pro­duc­tion and are faced with ad­e­quate sup­plies. By value, the prices will be less, but quan­tity will go up, he said.

A re­port by the US-based fin­tech com­pany Drip Cap­i­tal says that the com­bi­na­tion of a fall­ing ru­pee, strong de­mand for raw ma­te­ri­als and a re­duc­tion in raw shrimp pro­duc­tion have en­cour­aged farm­ers to in­crease prices, par­tic­u­larly in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Ker­ala. The ru­pee de­pre­ci­a­tion is likely to sup­port In­dian ex­porters. Andhra Pradesh has been the top per­form­ing ex­porter among the States, con­sis­tently con­tribut­ing over 30 per cent of the coun­try’s shrimp ex­ports over the last four quar­ters.

How­ever, the re­port warned of a glut in the mar­ket amidst com­pe­ti­tion from China, Ecuador, Thai­land and Viet­nam.

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