Global conditions favourable for vannamei as Thailand output suffers

The slump in prices of vannamei shrimp in Andhra Pradesh by roughly Rs 100 or so a kg (30 count) has left farmers disappointed, and they allege that the seafood exporters are depressing the prices.

However, on the whole, trade sources as well as farmers and also Government agencies say that vannamei shrimp culture during the past few years has proved profitable to farmers, notwithstanding the recent price slump.

Andhra Pradesh, always at the forefront in shrimp culture, has switched over to vannamei culture during the past few years from monodon (tiger shrimp) culture in the nineties and the early years of the first decade.

Fortunately, there has been no disease problem in vannamei culture so far.

According to G. Raj Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture, samples have been sent to labs for analysis and there is no sign of early mortality syndrome. He said the international market conditions were all right for vannamei culture at present, as Thailand and other countries were grappling with early mortality syndrome.

Exotic variety

He said vannamei was an exotic species and therefore the brood stock was being imported and supplied to hatcheries, after being subjected to the quarantine scrutiny.

He admitted that there were many unauthorised farmers taking up culture in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The farmers should obtain permission from the Coastal Aquaculture Authority of India.

For want of enough seed, some of the hatcheries were supplying local seed, resulting in some problems.

He said if the farmers stocked the ponds with certified seed and observed the bio-security measures and sanitation measures there would be no problems in vannamei culture.

G. Rambabu of Kesanakurrupalem said he had been in aquaculture for the past 20 years.

Prices decline

“Earlier, I used to culture monodon and now I have switched over to vannamei. However, whenever there is excess production as now, the importers depress prices. One month ago, the prices were in the range of Rs 410-430 a kg and Rs 370 (40 count). Now, we are being paid Rs 320 (30 count). I think we do not have enough processing capacity and therefore the exporters depress prices whenever there is excess production, even though the conditions in the international market are favourable. The farmers are at the mercy of exporters,” he said.

Chantibabu of Kajuluru in East Godavari is of the same opinion.

“There is no rational explanation for the recent slump in prices. It happened last year also during May, June and July when vannamei production was high. The margins for exporters are high, as there is good demand for the shrimp in the international market. There is no market intervention mechanism for the produce and therefore we have to accept whatever price is paid by the exporter,” he lamented.

There are also apprehensions expressed by some experts over the culture of vannamei in Indian conditions.

Dr T. Rajyalakshmi, former Director of the Centre for Brackish Water Aquaculture, is of the opinion that many precautions should have been taken before the introduction of an exotic species such as vannamei. She fears many more complications may crop up in future.

sarma.rs@the hindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 21, 2013)
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