Rising shrimp prices in the domestic market has brought cheers to aquaculture farmers especially when the sector is facing subdued export demand.

In New Delhi, prices have reached new heights with the wholesale rate (Jumbo B) touching ₹484 per kg, a 38 per cent year-on-year growth. The upward price trend has been witnessed since April, reportedly due to the anticipation of production cuts. The global prices have been subdued since the second half of 2022 due to an increase in production. Shrimp prices in mid-May declined to ₹312 per kg and it started gaining on the back of production cut expectations, market sources said.

“If the domestic shrimp prices are going up it will be good news considering the current global scenario where rates are on a downward trend in the US, Europe and China”, said Jagdish Fofandi, national president of Seafood Exporters Association of India. “I think the rise in prices in the domestic market will give shrimp farmers a chance to put up more crops because of the lower prices in the overseas markets”, he said.

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Rising disposable income

D. Ramaraj, past president of the All-India Shrimp Hatcheries Association, attributed the reason to rising disposable income and a glut in the international market that attracted retail consumers to shrimp, which is considered as a healthy and nutritious food. It is the only meat which is sold in the domestic market with international standards. Bulk of the meat consumed in India is chicken and with the availability of shrimp, consumers have the choice to get good quality meat.

Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, general secretary of the Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association, said declining overseas orders have forced seafood exporting firms with exposure in the retail business to focus on the domestic market and it boosted the demand. However, the price surge is not benefiting the local fishermen even as wild-caught is the most sought after variety in the domestic market.

The future of shrimp farming in India is definitely in domestic consumption, says Lakkaraju Satyanarain of All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association. After the lead taken by Ecuador in shrimp exports overtaking India, the time has come for the country to look at alternate markets. A lead should be taken by entrepreneurs and start tapping the market. Cities such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad have huge potential. A good logistical approach would resolve the problems being faced by farmers today. The farmers can even think of forming small societies and start selling in cities.