Blue revolution

The fifth edition of Aqua Aquaria India (AAI) 2019 was held in September 2019 at Hyderabad with the aim of spreading aquaculture to the inland states of India, with this year’s theme being ‘Taking blue revolution to India’s hinterland’. More than 250 stalls showcased various production and harvest technologies, machinery and accessories in export-oriented aquaculture as well as the ornamental fisheries sectors. A large number of delegates from India and overseas took part in the conference.

“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,” said M. Venkaiah Naidu, vice-president of India at the inauguration. “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 focussing on advanced technology for increasing fish production and productivity. In China and Israel, production of marine products is 10-15 tonnes per hectare. India also needs to substantially increase its production for exports and domestic requirements,” he added.

Doubling exports India’s seafood industry has become one of the leading suppliers of quality seafood to all the major markets of the world. India is the second largest aquaculture producer in the world, the second largest exporter of shrimps to Europe, the third largest exporter of shrimps to Japan and the US. The fisheries sector gives employment to more than 40 million people. Of the 5 per cent GDP contributed by the agriculture sector, 1 per cent came from fisheries. There is still a huge potential in the sector for further growth.

Looking at the potential and growth of the fisheries in India, the Union government is working on number of initiatives for the livelihood of fishermen and to double income/production. It has created a separate department to help support is marine and inland fisheries. The support in terms of infrastructure and extending subsidies through joint venture projects for setting up hatcheries/nurseries. “The government also earmarked an investment of   ₹ 25,000 crore for different schemes. Setting up laboratories and disease treatment system are the few major areas under the ‘blue revolution’ project. With all these measures, the government is planning to double exports in the next five years, from the current exports of  ₹ 47,000 crore. Quality control is the major concern for exports. We are closely working with Iceland, Norway and Denmark through joint ventures for using their technology. Going forward, I see the greenfield industry going to boom in India. We are also working on safety and welfare measures for fishermen and their boats. Every vessel will be protected by a vessel monitoring system,” said Rajni Sikhri Sibal, secretary, department of fisheries.

There were technical sessions on sustainable production and diversification in aquaculture; certification and traceability. India has a huge responsibility as a major seafood producer. The experts at the conference on marine products stressed the need for better management practices for a smooth route to certification, improve the value chain of shrimp culture and secure exports. “AAI 2019 provides a unique opportunity to experience the latest technological interventions in aquaculture and the aquarium sector,” said K.S. Srinivas, chairman, MPEDA. The agriculture export policy of the Union government aims to double the agriculture exports of the country to 60 billion dollars by 2022. During 2018-19, India exported 1,437,445 tonnes of seafood worth $6.8 billion. The US is its major market, followed by the EU, South East Asia, China and Japan.

Coastal shrimp aquaculture production has risen from 76,000 tonnes a decade ago to 683,472 tonnes during 2018-19, which is a phenomenal growth story, after the introduction of the exotic white leg shrimp in the country. The target set for production of shrimp from aquaculture is 1.1 million tonnes by 2021-22. An app, christened Aquamonk, has been developed by a Hyderabad-based marine sector company Savitri Aquamonk. It was displayed at the event. According to officials, the app can help harvest tracking for total farm yield analysis. Besides, it gives a snapshot of data of all tanks, daily pond operations log, biomass growth reports and harvest data records.