India Safeguarded Aqua Farmers’ Interests at WTO: Minister Goyal

KOCHI:
The government safeguarded the interests for the country’s marine farmers even in the last round of WTO discussions, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

India is working towards realising marine exports worth Rs one lakh crore by 2025, Goyal revealed at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel here last evening .

In his video speech at Grand Hyatt in Bolgatty Island here, Goyal made four proposals for a comprehensive development of the country’s marine resources. “Identify 20 markets for items that contribute to 90 per cent of the exports, prepare state-wise export development plans in consultation with state administrations, aim at exports worth 20 billion dollars in the next five years and, four,raise the lives of fishermen by reducing their risk, creating awareness among them, increasing their income and shielding them against middlemen,” he said at the two-hour function, where Patel released LegaSea, a coffee-table book on the occasion of MPEDA completing 50 years.

Goyal noted that the country has a potential to add two lakh shrimp farmers “in the next few years”. This will increase its production from the present 40,000 tonnes to seven lakh tones, which is nearly 18 times today’s production, he said, hailing MPEDA’s role in enabling India enjoy a quantum leap in global rankings from the 13th to the fourth position during the last decade.

Minister Patel, in her online address, said the government is implementing prompt measures in coordination with all pertinent departments to ensure that India’s income from marine exports hit Rs one lakh-crore within three years.“We are making efforts to boost the exports through our embassies abroad,” she said. “Our target is to contribute 10 per cent of the global exports in the marine products sector.”

Pointing out that all foreign markets have gone stricter on inspection of marine products in the post-Covid era, the Minister said it has become 100 per cent for vannamie shrimps in Japan. Presence of antibiotics in the products is a major issue in EU countries, America, Australia, Korea and Thailand, she added.

Patel said MPEDA has been adopting top-rate checking systems as part of its creative strategy to overcome such issues.

Noting that the future holds “very bright” for seafood owing to its rising domestic consumption and increasing demand the world over, Patel said, its health benefits are immense. “Thus the consumption pattern of the world population is shifting towards seafood,” she added.

Hibi Eden, MP, noting that marine products make stupendous contributions towards India’s exports, called for better livelihood care of the country’s fish workers who play a crucial role in the marine sector.

MPEDA Chairman Mr Dodda Venkata Swamy, welcoming the gathering, said the organisation is making coordinated efforts to form a chain that would guarantee sustainability and high quality of seafood.

Overlapping with the country’s 75th Independence Day festivities under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Wednesday’s event was addressed by MPEDA former heads T.K.A Nair (ex-Principal Secretary & Advisor to Prime Minister), K.B. Pillai and Leena Nair, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Chairman Paul Antony (Kerala’s former Chief Secretary), MPEDA ex-Chairman A. Jayathilak (Additional Chief Secretary) andand Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) National President Jagadish Fofandi.

The function also saw the distribution of the MPEDA Export Awards for Outstanding Performance (2019-20 and 2020-21) under seven categories. These went to the best manufacturer exporters of marine products based on an offline selection mode.

A cultural programme by MPEDA members and their families followed.

MPEDA, founded in 1972 as a statutory body of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has taken India’s marine exports to 1.4 million tonnes (Rs.57,586 crore) as against 35,523 tonnes in the year of inception.

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