Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan today inaugurated the 22nd India International Seafood Show (IISS) here, calling for efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the sector for increasing employment opportunities and boosting the country’s seafood exports through an innovative model based on diversification and value addition.
Delivering his inaugural address at the three-day showpiece event of the marine industry, Khan expressed confidence that India would be able to increase its share in global seafood trade from the present 4.1 per cent to 6.7 per cent by 2030 by increasing production, value addition and diversification.
“Blue evolution: Beyond Production to Value Addition” is the focal theme of the biennial event being jointly organised by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the nodal agency of Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and the Seafood Export Association of India (SEAI).
Highlighting the importance of seafood, the Governor pointed out that 40 per cent of the global population live within 200 km from seacoasts and 12 of the 15 mega cities are on the coasts. In India alone, about 40.5 million people are involved in the fisheries sector, which also contributed one per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP), he noted.
Oceans and fisheries had always fascinated the imagination of Indians as the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu was in the form of a fish, he explained.
Billed as one of Asia’s largest seafood fairs, the IISS is being held in Kochi after a gap of 12 years. Over 1,500 delegates, 50 of them from 12 foreign countries, are attending it to deliberate on policies and actionable roadmaps to achieve the country’s marine products export target of US$10 billion by 2022.
Among others who addressed the inaugural function were MPEDA Chairman K.S. Srinivas, his predecessors Leena Nair and G. Mohan Kumar, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) Chairman Dr. Christy Fernandez and SEAI National President Jagdish V Fofandi.
Welcoming the delegates, Srinivas talked of a three-pronged strategy to promote the sector, increase productivity, expand area under cultivation and diversification of species. An increase of productivity from the present five metric tonnes per hectare to 10 metric tonnes is desired. A vision document in this regard has been submitted to the government in this connection, he pointed out.
Improvement in infrastructure, focus on value addition, brand promotion and increase in the number of trade promotion offices would go a long way in achieving the trade target, he said.
Fofandi said the sector was hit this year by natural calamities, particularly the primary producers in aquaculture.
Leena Nair said the sector was on a roll since 2008-09 when it achieved the export target of two billion US dollars. The figure stood at 6.8 billion dollars now, she noted.
Kumar pointed out that India accounted for only five per cent in the global seafood trade, but had the potential to dominate the export scene, overcoming tariff and non-tariff barriers and moving forward from shrimp-centric focus through diversification, including black tiger revolution.
On the occasion, MPEDA launched an online certification scheme “Shaphari” for the farmers to ensure quality produce, bereft of anti-biotics which hindered exports.
Fernandez in his presidential address said the traditional markets were going down, giving way to new markets due to change in the consumers’ preference. Innovation, investment and integration would be the way out to overcome the hurdles, he felt.