KOCHI:Vannamei shrimp is leading India’s aquaculture shrimp production and seafood exports which is expected to touch $6billion this financial year.The Indian seafood export sector, which is today a $5 billion industry, has set a target of $10 billion by 2020.
The main exports in the seafood basket were vannamei shrimp, which grew to 175,071 tonnes from 91,171 tonnes the previous year. The export of vannamei shrimp recorded a growth of 92 per cent in quantity terms and 173 per cent in dollar terms in the last financial year, according to A J Tharakan, president of Seafood Exporters Association of India. This year, aquaculture shrimp production is likely to be 375,000 tonnes, from which the exports of processed aquaculture shrimp is expected to be 250,000 tonnes, compared to last year’s 175,000 tonnes. In comparison to vannamei, the export of farmed Black Tiger Shrimps came down from 61,177 mt to 34,133 mt.
Aquaculture shrimps have been the primary contributors to the seafood industry’s growth, contributing 47 per cent of the total exports. Shrimp exports were $3.2 billion in 2013-14, which was 64 per cent of total exports, of which aquaculture shrimp alone was worth $2.3 billion. Shrimp exports from capture fisheries contributed only 27 per cent of total exports with a value of $900 million.
Vannamei shrimp was introduced on a trial basis in 2009 when India lagged behind nations like Vietnam and Thailand. After convincing the government to introduce its cultivation, today the country leads in vannamei culture and are among the top exporters to the US, said industry officials.
Experts said the main reason for the quantum leap of vannamei was the ease with which domestication could be done to eliminate all possible viruses; give farmers selective pathogen free (SPF) broodstock, which could cater for almost entire needs of the world markets. This domestication that started in a small way in the US caught the interest of China and Thailand, and subsequently spread to other Latin American and Asian farming countries.
India was one of the last countries to accept and allow import of vannamei broodstock into the country. But the late entry turned out to be a blessing as several early starters are struggling with new problems, like Infectious Myonecrosis Virus, Early Mortality Syndrome etc. The pond farm gate prices were so phenomenally high for the Indian farmers that the entire industry went overboard with large-scale expansion in a short span of time - be it hatcheries, farms, feed mills or processing plants, said industry officials.