India’s resurgent seafood industry needs renewed impetus to make its stupendous growth sustainable, gain competitive edge in international markets, provide nutritional security and generate employment, especially in rural areas, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said here today.
Inaugurating the fifth edition of three-day Aqua Aquaria India (AAI), a biennial showpiece event in Asia’s marine products sector organized by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Naidu said the country’s aquaculture sector has registered huge growth, but there is enough potential for its expansion through diversification, value addition and penetration in the country’s hinterland and non-coastal states.
“Most of the Asian countries are focusing on advanced technology for increasing fish production and productivity. In China and Israel, production of marine products is 10 to 15 metric tonnes per hectare. India also needs to substantially increase its production for exports and domestic requirements,” he added.
The focal theme of the event, being held at HITEX exhibition center, is ‘Taking Blue Revolution to India’s Hinterland’. Describing aquaculture as the “best alternative for reinforcing the fish sector”, the Vice-President said there is immense scope for both horizontal and vertical expansion and importance has to be given to environment-friendly aquaculture in rural areas. Besides, branding and export-oriented aquaculture practices have to be adopted.
“Sustainability and productivity have to be the twin mantra for India’s aquaculture sector,” he said, adding that the country holds immense potential in developing inland aquaculture that can significantly boost exports.
Noting that the Central government has set a target to double the income of farmers by 2022, he made a strong plea to increase investments in the fields of aquaculture, especially in shrimp farming. “India is the fourth largest exporter of fish and the fisheries sector gives employment to more than 40.5 million people. Of the five per cent GDP contributed by the agriculture sector, one per cent came from the fisheries. But it has to be increased substantially.”
On the occasion, Naidu launched the indigenous “Pearl” brand Artemia, the most important live feed produced and marketed by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA), a society under MPEDA, under the ‘Make in India’ programme. Artemia or brine shrimp is widely used in shrimp and fish hatcheries, and is presently imported mostly from USA and China involving an outgo of foreign exchange worth Rs. 250 crore.
Addressing the gathering, Telangana Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Talasani Srinivas Yadav said after the formation of the state Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has given priority to this sector by allocating sops to the farmers in the form of 100 per cent grant and 80 per cent subsidy for Integrated Fisheries Development Programme. Besides fishermen are being insured for Rs six lakh each under the PM Suraksha Bima Yojana.
“The state government has simplified the registration process for farmers for the expansion of aquaculture and put emphasis on measures like quality control, Research and Development,’’ he informed.
Andhra Pradesh Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana also spoke on the occasion. He expressed the importance of live feeds using at shrimp hatcheries and suggested MPEDA should take a lead role in development of disease free polychaete worm.
The Vice President also presented awards to ten aquaculture farmers who made remarkable success in the field. The awardees included Hormis Tharakan, former DGP of Kerala and ex-chief of RAW, for successfully cultivating Black Tiger shrimp using the high health disease free seed from the multispecies aquaculture complex of MPEDA at vallarpadom island Kochi.
Earlier in his welcome address, MPEDA Chairman K S Srinivas said AAI 2019 provides a unique opportunity to experience the latest technological interventions in aquaculture and aquarium sector.
“The Agriculture Export Policy of the Union Government aims to double the agriculture exports of the country to 60 billion dollars by 2022. In this context, the marine products have been performing well on the export front in recent times. During 2018-19, India exported 14,37,445 MT seafood worth 6.8 billion US dollars. US is the major market followed by EU, South East Asia, China and Japan,” he added.
The coastal shrimp aquaculture production has risen from 76,000 metric tons a decade ago to 6,83,472 to metric tonnes during 2018-19, which is a phenomenal growth story after the introduction of exotic whiteleg shrimp (L. vannamei) in the country, he said, adding the targeted production of shrimp from acquaculture is 11,00,000 metric tonnes by 2021-22.
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Dr. G. Ranjith Reddy, MP from Chevella; Sanjay Raut, Rajya Sabha MP and MPEDA Authority member; Keshav Chandra, Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce; Sandeep Kumar Sultania, Principal Secretary Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department, Govt. of Telangana and V Padmanabham, President, Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI).
Around 5,000 delegates from India and abroad are participating in the mega event where more than 200 stalls are displaying various production and harvest technologies, machinery and accessories in the export-oriented aquaculture as well as ornamental fishery sectors.
Over the next two days, renowned domain experts from India and abroad will address technical sessions on topics of current interest such as ‘Sustainable production and diversification in aquaculture’; and ‘Certification and Traceability in Global Shrimp Trade’.
An interesting feature of the event is a special session on farmers’ success stories, which will be held on the concluding day of the event on Sunday. It will be chaired by Rama Shankar Naik,, Commissioner of Fisheries, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh.
The first edition of AAI was held in Chennai in 2011 while Vijayawada hosted the event twice in 2013 and 2015. The fourth edition was held in Mangalore in 2017.