Agri Business

Covid-19 inflicts a ₹308-crore loss on Kerala’s shrimp production

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on August 21, 2020

Fearing losses, many farmers resorted to ‘panic harvest’ and sold small-sized shrimps at lower prices   -  The Hindu

Lack of quality seeds, feed and labour hits production and employment

Kerala’s shrimp production has suffered a loss of around ₹308 crore owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA).

A CIBA study on shrimp aquaculture found that the unprecedented circumstances following the pandemic led to significant reduction of shrimp production of up to 500 tonnes in the State, leaving thousands of people unemployed.

Shrimp farming in Kerala is carried out in around 3,144 hectares with an average production of 1,500 tonnes a year.

The shrimp aquaculture was hit mainly due to reduction in farming activities and reduction in days of culture during the lockdown period. The difficulty in accessing seeds, feeds and labour for which Kerala depends on other States was the major reason for the disruption in farming. Also price hike in farming inputs and market uncertainty worsened the situation.

About 50 per cent of farmers gave up shrimp farming, even after they prepared ponds prior to the farming, as they faced difficulty in accessing quality seed and uncertainty over the culture and market. In addition to constraints in sourcing seeds due to logistical issues, increased feed cost and difficulty in accessing other farming requirements led to a 30-per-cent reduction in farming area.

The sector was badly hit as the lockdown restrictions affected transportation of shrimp feeds from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh leading to hike in feed prices.

‘Panic harvesting’

Fearing larger financial losses, farmers who had a standing stock resorted to 'panic harvesting' of small-sized shrimps and sold at lower prices.

The probable loss to Indian shrimp sector due to lockdown is estimated at 40 per cent and the total loss in value terms was estimated at $1.60 billion, said KK Vijayan, Director, CIBA.

“However, both the Central and State governments stepped in to take proactive measures such as notifying aquaculture as an essential activity, easing the restrictions for the movement of farming inputs and people and ensuring minimum procurement price for the farmed shrimp”, he said adding that additional efforts are required to implement the plans at the ground-level and follow-up the initiatives using government mechanism.

Published on August 21, 2020

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