CHENNAI: Complimenting the ‘Make in India’ vision envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, researchers in Chennai at Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) have developed indigenously formulated feed for the multi-billion dollar shrimp industry, which is being dominated by a few foreign companies.
Branded as Vannamei Plus, the Indian-made feed is highly cost-effective, while matching the output levels of international brands.
The technology is attracting large-scale farmers and entrepreneurs from different aquaculture States like Andhra, Gujarat and Kerala. Three medium-scale feed mills have been built in several states and will be inaugurated later this month to meet the local demand.
CIBA director Dr K K Vijayan told Express that in shrimp aquaculture industry, the feed constitutes 60 percent of cost of production. In the last five years, the cost of shrimp-feed has more than doubled. The current market price is Rs 88 per kg, while the actual input cost is under Rs 50. Companies thus enjoy large margins. Firms offer high commissions along with fluid sops to dealers including lavish foreign trips to secure their market dominance.
“Now, through Vannamei Plus, we want to cut the cost of production by at least 20 percent. To produce one kilo of the commercial feed, it costs Rs 140 per kilogram. With Vannamei Plus, the cost is reduced to Rs 91 per kilo.
There is huge scope for small and marginal farmers to enter the market using the low cost Vannamei Plus,” the director said and added that the institute is in talks with NFDB to lend soft loans for farmers for setting up feed mills using CIBA technology. Karuna Raju, a farmer from Baptla in Guntur of Andhra, has invested Rs 1.5 crore to build a feed mill using CIBA technology to produce Vannamei Plus for his 50 hectares of shrimp farm.
Dr K Ambashankar, principal scientist and in-charge nutrition group, CIBA, said the technology needs to become more mainstream with small and medium scale feed mills that need to be set-up across the country.
Parasite attack fear looms
The Indian shrimp industry has witnessed phenomenal growth in the past four years
However, all aquaculture States are on alert following the emergence of a new microsporidian parasite called Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP), reported to be associated with retarded growth
Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) has pointed to urgent need for expert management in the Asiatic region through an advisory issued to the Indian farmers jointly by the CIBA and the CAA
The Marine Products Export Development Agency states that export production has grown from 1.7 lakh metric tonnes to 3.5 lakh metric tonnes in 2014-15. This production is likely to go down due to the disease
All major aquaculture States like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat have been placed under national surveillance
New testing centre at Muttukadu
CIBA experimental station, Muttukadu on the East Coast Road will shortly have a sophisticated testing centre (will also be a referral lab) at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore for the benefit of hundreds of aquaculture farmers.
Shrimp farmers can have their feed or seed samples tested for a nominal fee to ensure better harvests
With increasing concern over food safety, Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, is introducing stringent norms and decided to register all the aquaculture inputs, which are free of antibiotics of concern
Aqua farmers and hatchery operators will be permitted to use only the registered inputs in their facilities
Dr P Ravichandran, Member Secretary of CAA, said a public notice has already been issued and this is the first time such a regulation is being introduced. This will fix standards for all coastal aquaculture inputs like larval and farm feed, feed additives, chemical disinfectants, other chemicals and drugs, fertilizers, probiotics, immune-stimulants etc.