The value of seafood exports from India dropped from ₹63,969 crore to ₹60,523 crore in 2022-23. In dollar terms, exports contracted 8.74 per cent to $7.37 billion. So the value of seafood exports must double this fiscal, to attain the 2025 target of $12 billion.

Demand dip, high inflation in importing countries, stiff competition from Ecuador are the reasons for export decline.

Ecuador has steadily improved its shrimp exports to the US and Europe since the last few years.

India has around 100,000 small farms most of which are in Andhra Pradesh.

The small farm format enables income equality which boosts the rural economy.

Small farm model

Therefore, the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) model of small farm operations ensures sharing of resources and infrastructure, identical production systems involving the same candidate species.

Close supervision and guidance by the Department of Fisheries and central agencies could ensure substantial savings in input costs and output delivery systems.

The recent conference organised by the Jai Bharat Ksheera Rama Aqua Farmers’ Association; West Godavari district reiterates this model.

The near continuous farming operations in these one lakh farms is driven by commerce. Feed, processing companies and export houses drive the small holder shrimp farmers to engage in farming round the year leading to crop losses and indebtedness.

Feed companies offering feed on credit and on farm consultancy services may also lead to sustainability issues resulting in disease occurrence and crop failure.

The use of the Kisan Credit Card by shrimp farmers must become a force of habit. It could also be linked to UPI system like the Rupay credit Card, if it has not been done already.

This will help shrimp farmers getting out of the clutches of non-institutionalised credit.

The invisible bond in the NACSA model that binds the farmers together, must be strengthened by Performance Linked Incentives (PLI). The PLI scheme is being availed by shrimp farmers but the scheme could be tweaked to make the same available only to cluster farming groups.

The innovations of aqua start-ups cover the entire value chain of shrimp sector from use of satellite imageries in crop planning to novel feed ingredients, diagnostic and treatment methods, to energy conservation and making innovative by-products from shrimp processing wastes.

These innovations need to be integrated in the production system to generate the volumes that are necessary for production of value-added shrimp products.

Outward FDI

Investments by Indian shrimp processing companies in cost effective Central American countries could be one way of improving the share of Indian products in the US and European markets.

The free trade agreement signed with European Free Trade Association (EFTA), after 16 years of painstaking negotiations, will do away with tariffs on almost all products including seafood.

The recent Shrimp Summit of the Centre for Responsible Seafood, Chennai, addressed resolution of irregularities, confidence building among Indian shrimp exporters, and adoption of improved certification and audit systems for farmed shrimp worldwide.

Consistent delivery of volumes backed by efficient and certified input use, strategically located global production centres and strong institutional backing can generate a diversified portfolio of products and services that can help achieve the export target set for 2025.

M Krishnan is former Principal Scientist and Head, ICAR- Central Institute of Fisheries Education (ICAR-CIFE), Mumbai; and P Krishnan is Director, Bay of Bengal Program – Inter Governmental Organization (BoBP-IGO), Chennai. Views expressed are personal