Tamil Nadu

Now, crop insurance likely for highly vulnerable shrimp farmers

SV Krishna Chaitanya

CHENNAI: The Chennai-based Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) is working on modalities to introduce crop insurance for shrimp farmers who are highly vulnerable to big losses.

A consultation meeting was recently organised at CIBA to develop a pragmatic crop insurance product for shrimp aquaculture. Officials from leading insurance companies, farmers, farmer representatives, scientists and other stakeholders participated in the meeting.

KK Vijayan, director, CIBA, told The New Indian Express the shrimp farming industry in India has transformed from a traditional fishing system to a capital oriented semi-intensive system. Availability of large areas of suitable coastal land has led to phenomenal growth of this industry. Official statistics show shrimp farming accounts for about 70 per cent of Indian seafood exports revenue to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore.

"However, it is an investment intensive and risk laden farming activity mainly due to viral disease outbreaks and crop losses. After white spot disease caused extensive damage globally in 1994 and the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) declared crop holiday in 1995, there hasn't been any insurance cover for shrimp farmers, although the industry has evolved greatly withsustainable practices," Vijayan said.

Adoption of better management practices, bio-security measures including aquatic health management and use of Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) shrimp seeds, helped to tackle the disease issues in the Indianshrimp farming clusters. Institutional support in the form of bank credit and insurance would further support the farmers in adoption of good aquaculture practices and ensure sustainability of the production system," Vijayan argued.

Insurance companies have been reluctant to provide insurance cover to shrimp farming for the last two decades, assuming that it is a risky venture. "CIBA has been sensitizing insurance companies and facilitating them with scientific data that shrimp farming with adoption of better management practices is sustainable and needs institutional support, such as suitable insurance products," the official said.

T Ravisankar, principal scientist from Social Sciences Division, CIBA, said institutional insurance was the need of the hour for shrimp farming and it would create a win-win situation for both insurancecompanies and farmers.

He said that during the stakeholders meeting Allianz Insurance, New India Assurance and ICICI General Insurance exchanged views with the farmers who detailed their coverage requirements, adding thatthe majority of the farmers would avail the insurance package.

C A Srinivasan, Vice President, Allianz Insurance, said the meeting was a good start to develop suitable insurance products. "There would be further discussion on premium and other aspects," he said.

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